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Powerful Brainstorming: The Do’s and Don’ts

Generating ideas is the lifeblood of the creative professional. As a content creation agency, we are no strangers to the importance of a good brainstorming session. We understand the necessity of it, the fun of it, and the dangers of it. Every sports team must devise a plan to execute on the field in order to win and often times, allowing players to bring their skills to practices can be where these plans develop. Most games are won and lost on the practice field. Brainstorming sessions for us are a much more fun and much less sweaty version of sports practices. “Brainstorming” shouldn’t be foreign for you either, however, it’s important to make sure you are efficient and successful in your sessions, so let us step in and offer some tips.

What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a popular idea that dates back to 1939, with a guy named Alex F. Osborn. He was an advertising professional that outlined this idea in his book, Your Creative Power, under the chapter title, “How to Organize a Squad to Create Ideas.” What a great word – “Squad.” Brainstorming should definitely feel like a “squad” effort. Everyone contributing, collaborating and creating.

  • Quantity over quality of ideas
  • Withhold criticism
  • Welcome ALL ideas
  • Combine and improve

These are the foundations of Osborn’s formula, and frankly, they haven’t changed much in today’s powerful brands. Take Forbes or Disney for example, who both still preach many of these ideas in their brainstorming processes. Like many things in the creative sphere, brainstorming can look different for every company depending on the situation or problem you’re tackling.

 

Big Slate’s Do’s and Don’ts of Brainstorming

 

Valiant effort Michael Scott, but whatever this monstrosity is (although hilarious!); DON’T allow it to happen. We have appropriately come up with brainstorming guidelines that work for us under the acronym – S.Q.U.A.D. 

 

S – Simplicity

  • DO: Have a meeting leader that sets rules and a time limit on these meetings – (we have found that 30 minutes is a sweet spot for us). People get tired and it’s ok to cut a meeting off and let ideas simmer so you can come back to them later for a more finite meeting.
  • DON’T: Allow people to come in with no idea of the problem at hand. Give them a heads up to prepare ideas so the meeting can offer value.

Q – Quantity

  • DO: Allow any and all ideas. Even if an idea is far off, let it be a casting point for branch ideas that might be awesome.
  • DON’T: Cut the ideas off at just a few. The more the merrier, because once you sit down with the client or upper management to make a decision, it’s better to have a hierarchy of 100 ideas to present than to only have one that you love and watch it get crushed.

U – Understanding

  • DO: Understand each other’s ideas, and if the leader says that your idea is out of scope, understand that it’s ok. You aren’t bad at ideas, you just need to change your approach.
  • DON’T: Be mean. First grade 101. Treat people with respect and have fun creating.

A – Ask and Apply

  • DO: Ask people to extrapolate their ideas so you can start analyzing the ones that will work best and try applying these answers to other ideas.
  • DON’T: Narrow perspective. Let people be creative when you ask questions. [“I don’t see how that works.” – Not constructive or helpful.]

D – DEMOCRACY!

  • DO: We put it up to a voting system for people to pick the best thought-out and creative solutions so that we have a system of choosing the best ideas. It allows for fairness to the approach and it’s AMERICA’s founding principle, so naturally, we like it.
  • DON’T: Allow someone to “iron fist” the session. That should be a rule set at the beginning. It’s about a collaboration of everyone’s ideas, not just one person’s.

 

Above all these guidelines we use, our number one is to HAVE FUN. A brainstorm space should be a safe place for creative people to laugh, build and imagine together to create awesome solutions. When you leave with that feeling of “wanting more,” that’s the good stuff. When it doesn’t feel as powerful, back off the table for a little while and come back later. It’s ok. Plenty of world-famous chefs had to try recipes multiple times to make it perfect. So, get back to the stove and whip up something fresh and new!

Other Sources of Brainstorming Fun

12 Brainstorming Techniques – HubSpot

Brain-Writing

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Big Slate Media Team
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Net Neutrality is in Danger (and it WILL Affect You)!

We’re hoping that by now, you’ve heard of net neutrality. It’s a big deal, and it’s a principle that protects many of the liberties we currently enjoy online. Repealing net neutrality can only yield unfortunate and oppressive results for anyone who actively uses the internet. We’re going to break down what it is and why repealing it is a bad idea. We’ll detail what you can do about it, and why you should. This is extremely important. But first, please read one of the recommended letters from Battle for the Net you can send to your representatives, as it thoroughly explains the threat at hand. There’s also a brief explainer video below if you don’t have the time to read this.

I urge you to stop the FCC’s plan to end net neutrality *before* the FCC’s December 14th vote.

I don’t want ISPs to have the power to block websites, slow them down, give some sites an advantage over others, split the Internet into “fast lanes” for companies that pay and “slow lanes” for the rest, or force me to buy special “tiers” to access the sites and services I choose. But that’s exactly what the FCC plan would do. Please read it here.

Blocking & throttling by ISPs is a serious problem. Comcast has throttled Netflix, AT&T blocked FaceTime, Time Warner Cable throttled the popular game League of Legends, and Verizon admitted it will introduce fast lanes for sites that pay-and slow lanes for everyone else-if the FCC lifts the rules. This hurts consumers and businesses large and small.

If some companies can pay ISPs to have their content load faster, startups and small businesses that can’t pay those fees won’t be able to compete. This will kill the open marketplace that has enabled millions of small businesses and created America’s 5 most valuable companies. Without strong net neutrality protections, Internet providers will effectively be able to impose a tax on every sector of the American economy.

Moreover, under Chairman Pai’s plan, ISPs will be able to make it more difficult to access political speech that they don’t like. They’ll be able to charge fees for website delivery that would make it harder for blogs, nonprofits, artists, and others who can’t pay up to have their voices heard.

If the FCC passes their current order, every Internet user and business in this country will be unprotected from abuse by Internet providers, and the consequences will be dire. Please publicly support net neutrality protections by denouncing the FCC’s current plan. Do whatever you can to stop Chairman Pai, to ensure that businesses and Internet users remain protected.

 

What Net Neutrality Is

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs (Internet service providers) such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T shouldn’t be allowed to control what we do and see when we’re online. It says that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to speed up some websites and slow down others, depending on who’s willing to pay up. Major critics say this could be detrimental to innovation and would make growth for start-ups even more difficult. This principle protects the interests of everyone – people and small to medium-sized businesses alike. Repealing net neutrality is a massive threat, and it only serves to benefit the financial interests of ISPs by granting them the ability to control the Internet.

 

The Threat of Repealing Net Neutrality

This battle has been going on for a long time now. In most recent events, the Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai (formerly Verizon’s Deputy General Counsel) announced the FCC’s intentions to repeal regulations (with a BUNCH of technical errors and inaccurate information) established in 2015 that limited ISPs from throttling traffic, charging for various service packages, etc. They could charge companies higher rates to become a “premium website,” offering faster speeds to those visiting. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T could begin charging you extra for additional packages to your plan (ex. For $5.99/month, you can get the social media package included in your Xfinity plan, which includes Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This plan would even allow ISPs to decide what they can censor. Entire websites could be blocked off, all at the discretion of the ISP. The proposed plan is hilariously titled “Restoring Internet Freedom,” but it will do anything BUT increase or maintain your current online liberties. Seriously – do you want that?

Comcast “throttled” Netflix, until they came to an agreement in 2014. And voilà – Netflix paid up and their video quality increased. Now imagine this, but on a much wider scale.

“Despite purchasing transit on all available routes into Comcast’s network that did not require direct or indirect payment of an access fee to Comcast, the viewing quality of Netflix’s service reached near-VHS quality levels. Faced with such severe degradation of its streaming video service, Netflix began to negotiate for paid access to connect with Comcast. Netflix and Comcast eventually reached a paid agreement. Within a week of that agreement, viewing quality for Netflix streaming video on Comcast’s network shot back up to HD-quality levels.” (Source: https://goo.gl/8joU13)

Repealing net neutrality is a threat to anyone that does business online. That’s exactly why big companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, and eBay (all members of the Internet Association) support net neutrality. In fact, there’s a chance they’re going to be proactive in response to these changes:

Members of the Internet Association could band together to fund an internet service provider that would guarantee neutrality and offer service to every American at affordable rates. Google Fiber could build out its existing services nationwide with funding from these other companies who have a huge interest in protecting open access to the net. Even if the effort is costly, it would be less expensive than the potential alternative of customers being unable to access their sites. (Source: https://goo.gl/LFoFn5)

The Opposing Argument

So, what’s the argument for repealing net neutrality? The FCC claims repealing net neutrality will open up a free market. They claim that most Americans have access to multiple options (a competitive market for providers) when it comes to choosing an ISP. This isn’t the case. Roughly 50{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3} of Americans live in an area where there is only one option, usually provided by a major ISP like Comcast. Ajit Pai argues that the rules need to be repealed because there’s been a noticeable decline in broadband investment – but the numbers don’t support his assertion. Instead of a massive decline, it’s actually been fairly consistent since 2013. This is not defending a free and open internet. This is killing it.

 

What You Can Do About It… And Why You Should

50,000 net neutrality complaints were excluded from FCC’s repeal docket. Senators asked the FCC to delay the vote scheduled for December 14th, saying that “A free and open internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding…In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.”  The FCC ignored them and said there will be no delay. As a government agency, we’re seeing a lack of public service here – they are currently maneuvering to benefit major ISPs instead of being open-minded and addressing a major public concern. On the same day the FCC announced the repeal, Comcast deleted their net neutrality pledge. Their current “open internet” pledge no longer mentions paid prioritization or promising they won’t block/throttle websites – something that is, as of right now, outlawed by the standing net neutrality rules. This is terrifying stuff. Companies shouldn’t have this kind of power. They shouldn’t stand to benefit from a scheme like this with such a massive public outcry. Portugal doesn’t have net neutrality – check out what they’re having to deal with. This could be coming to the U.S. very soon if we don’t speak up. Major ISPs can split the whole internet into packages and charge us for each section. It could look like this:

Call and email Congress. This site makes it so easy to reach out to them.  Individuals and small businesses have nothing to gain, and only more to lose if this proposal is voted into effect. The internet is our public commons. A place for discourse and discovery. Net neutrality is free speech. Please do your part in defending it. If phone calls aren’t your thing, you can even text your representatives.

We believe in a free and open Internet. We’re making calls and sending emails and we’re asking you to join us. The vote is in one week, on December 14.

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Big Slate Media Team
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Do You Know About the Search Function?

The Big Slate Media team recently had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr. Dan RussellGoogle’s Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness. Quite the title, right? One of Dr. Russell’s prime goals at the moment is to understand how Google users tick. He works at Google. He’s given a Ted Talk (below). Lifehacker had a chat with him about how he works. We didn’t want to miss out.

The lecture lasted roughly an hour. It scratched the surface of just how insanely in-depth Google’s search functions can be and the curiosities of search users. But there was something he mentioned earlier, a statistic that knocked our socks off. It blew our minds. But before we mention this ground-shattering statistic, we’d like to ask you a question.

You’re on any web page – reading a scientific article on gambling plants, a PDF for school, a relatable article, whatever – and you’re looking for a particular word. You’re pretty sure it’s on the page, you’ve just got to find it. So… What do you do?

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, ‘DUH! Use the search function, you knucklehead!’ That’s what we were thinking until Dr. Russell said roughly NINE IN TEN people don’t know about the search function (CMD+F for Mac, CTRL+F for PC). Nine in ten. 90{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3}. What. We are literally in pain with this knowledge. It ain’t right. It can’t be!

If you’re reading this – we sincerely hope you’re already familiar with the search function. But keep that number in mind. 90{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3}. Look to your left. Look to your right. It’s 2017 and some of the wretched souls you just looked at might not know how to find a word or phrase on-page – the easy way. Needle in a haystack, some may say dejectedly, eyes spinning from speed-read-scrolling pages, phantom words flying behind the eyelids with the same effect as a Guitar Hero marathon. So much time spent searching. Wasted time. This is a digital-age tragedy.

Image result for i've wasted my life

Going through life not knowing CMD+F is not okely-dokely.

Try to imagine the precious collective hours wasted by paid employees who don’t know about this shortcut. Dr. Russell said Google went through and made sure all of their employees were familiarized with the search function and other shortcuts. Guess what? They saved a ton of money afterward, and things became more efficient. So, maybe it’s not a bad idea to bring this up in conversation with a family member, friend or coworker. It’s clearly far larger of a problem than we would have anticipated. Dan said, “the tools you know change the way you think about information.” G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” You get it.

Using the search function on a desktop is one thing. Using it on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is another. Here’s a helpful article on the search function for mobile devices. It requires clicking the share button (not very intuitive…) and scrolling horizontally until you find the search button. Meh.

If you enjoy a challenge or just want to up your search game, check out A Google a Day.  It’s fun and you might just learn something. That, and if your boss says anything you can tell them you’re actively building your credibility as a professional. That might work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You can find a pretty thorough index of shortcuts here if you haven’t had your fix yet.

Stay tuned – we’ll be delivering more helpful tips and tricks in the future!

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Big Slate Media Team
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WTF Is Up With These Marketing and Web Development Acronyms!?

In the digital marketing business (and many other businesses), acronyms get thrown around. A lot of acronyms. While I may be a writer, I work in a room with a bunch of web developers. At first, I thought my brain bailed on me and I was getting hit with alphabet soup, hearing terms like SQL, UI/UX, PHP, etc. Either that or these developers were just screwing with me. Programmers have their own language; I know they’re speaking some form of English, but I just can’t keep up. I’m catching every other word. It was the same way listening to rock climbers’ jargon when I worked at REI. I had to start asking questions. Almost a year into the job now, things are making a bit more sense than they did in the beginning.

I decided it might be helpful to make a short list. Consider this… a brain snack. A morsel of information for the precious three pounds of meat between your ears. We could go totally overboard and dump 149 acronyms in your lap, but we’ll keep the list manageable. Bite-sized. We’ll dive into ten common acronyms found in both the digital marketing and web development fields, plus some bonus items!

Marketing Acronyms

marketing web development acronyms - PPC

PPC is a great way to take up some real estate on the front page of your customers’ search results.

Return On Investment (ROI)

  • B2B / B2C – Business to Business/Consumer. These two differ on whether they’re selling products and services to other companies or customers.

Web Development Acronyms

  • HTML – Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the standard markup language for creating web pages and apps.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets. It’s a mechanism for adding elements such as font, colors, spacing, etc. to Web documents.
  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator. You’ve heard this one before – it’s a reference (address) to a resource online.
  • UX  User Experience design. From Career Foundry’s article titled “The Difference Between UX and UI Design – A Layman’s Guide“: “If you imagine a product as the human body, the bones represent the code which give it structure. The organs represent the UX design: measuring and optimizing against input for supporting life functions.
  • UI – User Interface design. “…UI design represents the cosmetics of the body–its presentation, its senses and reactions.
  • CAPTCHA  Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. According to the GIF below, it can be fooled…
marketing web development acronyms - CAPTCHA

And so begins the rise of the machines.

  • XML – Extensible Markup Language. XML is a set of rules for encoding documents that both people and machines can read.
  • PHP – PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive acronym PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It’s a programming language for generating websites. 80{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3} of all websites run on PHP – primarily due to WordPress.
  • SQL Structured query language. It’s a standardized query language for requesting information from a database.
  • WYSIWYG – (pronounced “wizzy-wig”) – What You See Is What You Get. Used when editing content for a document, web page, presentation, etc. Wikipedia’s got some literature on this if you’re absolutely enthralled.

Bonus Round

These are just a couple personal favorites that have absolutely nothing to do with marketing or web development, but they’re pretty cool. How many of these did you already know?

  • SCUBA – Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
  • LASER – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
  • TASER – Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. From a young adult novel published in 1911 by Victor Appleton, oddly enough. Has nothing to do with the actual taser, other than inspiring the name.
  • SONAR – SOund Navigation And Ranging.
  • RADAR – RAdio Detection And Ranging.
  • ZIP – Zone Improvement Plan.
  • SIM – (as in SIM chip) – Subscriber Identity Module. Sounds a little creepy when you word it like that.
  • WD-40 – Water Displacement attempt #40. No joke.
  • YAHOO! – “Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle” or “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
  • Alcoa – Here’s a local one for you! ALuminum Company of America.
marketing web development acronyms - LASER

“Not another step, or I’ll roast you alive with my Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation gun!”

 

So, there. Now you’re just a little bit smarter. Apply what you’ve learned in your next trivia game. Or use it to fill the awkward silence in a conversation when you’re not sure what else to say. At Big Slate Media, we handle all of the items mentioned above. We manage PPC campaigns, bolster SEO ratings, and much, much more. If you’re interested in taking your success to the next level, let us know!

 

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Big Slate Media Team
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Conversion Marketing: Get ’em in the Funnel!

“Every aspect of marketing is entirely useless unless it produces conversions.” – Jeremy Smith

conversion marketing

If you can create compelling, original content… People will eat it up. (Image from the film Office Space, 1999.)

As we all know, conversion marketing is about luring a poor customer into your trap and convincing them to buy things they don’t need…right? We’re kidding! We’re just kidding. Conversion marketing is about providing quality content that will draw visitors to your website, where they will (ideally) find what they’re looking for (a service or product that you provide) and taking action (making a purchase). 

 

Scott Brinker of Search Engine Land gives content marketing this awesome definition:

Thriving at the intersection of SEO and social media, content marketing has become central to digital marketing strategy. Its objective is simple: create genuinely useful or entertaining content for many specific niches of your target audience—not to overtly promote your business, but to build rapport and brand equity—and give it away for free.

Keep the conversion funnel in mind. Awareness leads to interest. Interest leads to desire. Desire leads to action. Action leads to the light side of the marketing force.

A big part of the battle is getting folks to visit your website in the first place – and that requires quite a few foundational blocks before you can move on to the next phase. Let’s touch base on the basics:

  • Optimize your website for search engines (SEO). You won’t get any traffic if they can’t find you.
  • Provide compelling content. Quality ad copy and high-definition images (optimized images that won’t slow down the site!) We’ll dip into content a bit deeper later on.
  • Make sure your website doesn’t suck. Any well-oiled machine requires a toolbox for regular maintenance.

To pursue a successful conversion marketing goal is to play the long game. Like any successful and healthy relationship, it will take time to develop. This is an investment in the community and in time, and it will work to your advantage in the long run. You are planting a seed that one will eventually blossom into one awesome little tree. The coolest tree. Like, Baby Groot cool.

 

Note: Good content marketing leads to better conversion rates, and it totally pays off. (Image from the film Dodgeball, 2004.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Hendricks breaks it down to 10 simple tactics that can increase conversions:

  1. Write quality copy. Strong and compelling content goes a long way. Make it worth the read.
  2. Make sure your headlines don’t suck. It’s one of the first things visitors see. Grab their attention and hold it.
  3. A/B split testing is a must. This will give you insight into what works. Good data leads to better business.
  4. Get the word out with social media. Facebook, Twitter, etc. Post frequently. Engage. Trust us – it works. 
  5. Know thy audience. Find your target audience. Narrow it down. Refine it. That’s how you get quality leads.
  6. Email marketing – give it a whirl. It can be informative or sales-oriented, but it keeps you fresh in their memory.
  7. Don’t remain static – change things up every now and then. Gradual shifts in content show you’re invested.
  8. Urgency works, sometimes. “Only two days left until the sale ends!” It works surprisingly well. 
  9. Be a traffic cop. Show your visitors where to go. Make the path from awareness to action as easy as possible.
  10. CTAs! Call to Action, yo! Whatever you put out there (blogs, posts, comments, etc.) – there should always be a clear call to action.

 

Do you know what else works exceptionally well for increasing your conversions? Being personable. Check out our blog post about building your personal brand.

Big Slate Media works with a wide and diversified client base. We know the conversion marketing funnel well, and we know what it takes to get that visitor from attention to action. Digital marketing is our bread and butter. So if you want to create or revitalize your marketing efforts, we’d love to sit down and talk with you. Give us a call at (865) 291-0005 or shoot us a contact request!

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Big Slate Media Team

Make it Personal! (Tips for Building a Personal Brand)

From the movie ‘The Godfather’, (1972).

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

-Michael Corleone (The Godfather, 1972)

Tip #1: Don’t be Lame

The soon-to-be head of the Corleone family knew how to drive a strong message across. Think of creative initiative as a cannoli, and lame content as a gun (stay with me here) – Leave the gun, take the cannoli. In today’s digital world when you’re trying to build a brand, it’s the exact opposite: you want it to be personal. Personal is fun. It’s engaging. It’s not some cookie-cutter, run-of-the-mill dry content that gets passed around social media channels without any flavor to it. Sometimes it’s refreshing for your audience to be reminded that your company is composed of interesting human beings with jobs, just like them. Just because you’re a business or an organization doesn’t mean you have to be as boring as watching paint dry. It’s not personal, it’s business…but make it personal. 

Heck, sometimes we’ll post a picture of everyone out at lunch together. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. When you have good chemistry with your team, it’s a fun environment. Share that. People dig that stuff.

 

Building a Personal Brand - Share it!

Oh, Nama – your sashimi is my soymate.

Creative content is what drives a successful business – and we often find ourselves having fun with projects – like flying World’s Fair Beer over Knoxville.

 

Tip #2: BLOG, BLOG, BLOOOOOOG

“What the Internet’s value is that you have access to information but you also have access to every lunatic that’s out there that wants to throw up a blog.”

-George A. Romero

Make that work in your favor! Crank out blogs about cool tips and tricks you’ve learned in your industry. Write listicles about anything – they’re fun, brief, and perfect for the “TL;DR” (too long, didn’t read) reader. Client spotlights and testimonials are great. How about a blog post in which you reflect on where you were a year ago and what you’ve learned since then?

Building a Personal Brand - Blog, Blog, Blog!

Good ideas, a strong cup of coffee and a blank word document… The ingredients for sweet, bloggy goodness.

Other ideas include:

  • Infographics and Videos
  • Tutorials
  • Checklists
  • Blog series

Tip #3: Get Engaged (with Social Media) and Establish Your Voice

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are prime platforms for establishing your organization’s ‘voice’ – that is, the tone you take with the content you put out there. You can be silly while still maintaining a professional tone. Find groups who are in your field or match your target audience.

Consistency is key, here – if you slack off, you lose followers and public interest. Be diligent in maintaining your marketing drumbeat.

 

Tip #4: Pay Attention to the Big Fish

This one might seem like a given, but it’s always a smart idea to pay attention to the big fish that are making waves. Keep an eye on the type of quality content they share, their engagement with readers, and so on. Look to the pros – they got to where they are because they’re consistent, creative and driven. And most importantly – their content doesn’t suck!

Building a Personal Brand Takes Time!

This is a process that will take a lot of time and effort, but it sets you apart from the competition by leagues. By creating and sharing personal content that people actually want to engage with, you’re building a personal brand that resonates authority and credibility – and making an offer your audience can’t refuse. At Big Slate Media, we do it all – photography, video production, blogging, social media management and more. If you’re ready to get your name out there and have fun doing it, give us a call at (865) 291-0005 or contact us online!

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Big Slate Media Team
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Dark Social: What Stats are Lurking in the Shadows?

Have you ever heard of ‘dark social‘? It sounds ominous, perhaps even malicious. But don’t worry – it’s not some evil machination of the internet conspiring against you or your business. Dark social, as first explained by Alexis Madrigal (a senior editor at The Atlantic), is the harder-to-measure data that shows how content is shared online.

 

Content Gets Around – But Can it All be Tracked?

Think of it this way – you find a cool article about Elon Musk calling for a moon base – whoa! That’s so cool! Gotta share that with the friends. You click the ‘share’ button and post it to Facebook. For Space.com (or any website), a Facebook share is easy to track. But then you remember you’ve got a friend who’s crazy about space travel – but they don’t have a Facebook. So you email them the link. When Space.com checks the analytics for their article, they’ll see a certain percentage attributed to social media shares. Then there’s this other category – an even larger percentage than social media – it’s vague, and it’s typically labeled ‘Direct.’ The email you just sent falls into that category. Same thing goes for instant messages, text messages, and native mobile apps like Facebook. Enter the world of dark social – web traffic without a known source/referrer.

 

According to Techopedia,

The prevalence of sharing through dark social suggests that social media marketing that fails to focus on the type and quality of content may be overlooking a huge portion of social sharing.

 

Content shared via dark social channels is pretty much one big lump of data as far as web analytics goes. Working with the web analytics firm Chartbeat, Alexis jumped in to get a breakdowofor The Atlantic’s sources of traffic. This is what they found:

Dark Social Stats

Image Source: http://theatln.tc/2meGl34

That’s HUGE! You might never have heard of dark social, but it’s super important to be aware of. Those stats are just for The Atlantic, too. For mobile sharing in general, it’s been reported that dark social is responsible for 84{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3} of outbound sharing. The numbers are too big to ignore.

For a very in-depth exploration of dark social, check out RadiumOne’s white paper on “The Dark Side of Mobile Sharing.”

 

My Head is Spinning – Can I Track Dark Social?

So, can you accurately track this stuff? Well, not easily. It’s not a matter of poor analytics or anything – it’s just that referral data doesn’t always hop along for the ride when a link gets shared. Take email, for instance – your privacy rights dictate that referral data doesn’t come along. With secure browsing (HTTPS), referrer data doesn’t get transmitted if you shift to an HTTP site. Still, there are ways to customize your analytics to track parts of it for more accurate measurements.

 

So, What’s the Takeaway from All of This?

It really boils down to this – with great content brings comes great traffic. Sometimes you can’t always accurately gauge how your visitors got to your site, but you can control the quality of the content you’re putting out there. Good content is interesting. Great content is engaging, informative and fun – and that’s exactly what we do at Big Slate Media. If you’re ready to rock your next social media campaign, we would love to be a part of it. Give us a call at (865) 291-0005 or contact us online and we’ll get the ball rolling!

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Big Slate Media Team
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What’s Your Marketing Drumbeat?

Think about a drumbeat. In a band, it establishes a rhythm and keeps everyone on track. Up until the late 19th century, a battlefield drummer wasn’t just there to bolster morale – they were an important part of the communication system.  In the same sense, your marketing drumbeat keeps your business moving forward and lets the world know you’re there.

We’re talking about the basics of internet marketing. There’s a minimum level of action a business should engage in to maintain their marketing drumbeat. Let’s go through the essentials and how they’re beneficial (and necessary) for the growth of your business.

List Your Business

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you list your business with Google and Bing. If you want your business to show up in search results, this is an absolute must. It’s also incredibly beneficial for local businesses, as your business (and address) will appear in local search rankings.

If you would like assistance in getting your business verified, please let us know and we’ll get you started!

 

Social Media – Get Interactive!

Chances are, you probably use social media. In 2016, almost 70{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3} of all Americans were using Facebook. Here are some other outlets you should look into, depending on your business:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

These will not only help build links (super important for SEO) – but you’ll also establish your company’s persona and voice. Consistency is key here – post regularly! Maintain your digital presence. You might even want to consider having someone in your company take ownership of your social media campaign. Someone of the same mind who is invested in your brand can work miracles for getting your name out there. For more information on social media marketing, check out this guide from Search Engine Land.

Email Marketing

Keeping a list of email addresses from your clients/customers is crucial for communication. If you’ve got something to promote, plan your email marketing strategy.

  • Thank You Letters
  • Monthly Newsletters
  • Product / Event Promotion

You may also want to consider setting up a drip marketing campaign.

Things to keep in mind: (You want to convert a reader into a buyer.)

  1. Make sure your email list is built with permission marketing contacts.
  2. Always have a call to action.
  3. Write as if you’re writing a letter to one person. Be personable, not a robot.
  4. Make it fun. Throw in a quote or an interesting fact. Make the email offer up some kind of reward.
  5. Finally, make sure your email is worthwhile. If you don’t have something engaging and read-worthy, come up with a plan.

This list can go on and on. If you’re interested in sharpening your email marketing game, check out this great article from Copyblogger.

To Wrap Things Up…

Your marketing drumbeat should be loud and proud – and frequent! Once you’ve followed through with these items and practice them regularly, it’s not marketing. It’s protocol. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, focus on targeted keywords and up your SEO game. Dive into social media – engage in conversations, share posts/tweets and interact with people.

Consistency and relevancy is key to maintaining your brand exposure and presence. With these things in mind, get out there and make some noise!

If you own a business and want to increase your exposure, we’d love to have a chat. Give us a call today at (865) 291-0005!

 

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Big Slate Media Team