Facebook Apocalypse: The Journey, Episode 17

The Journey, a Social Media Examiner production, is an episodic video documentary that shows you what really happens inside a growing business. //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG6dvXW-cUE Watch The Journey: Episode 17 Episode 17 of The Journey follows Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, as he continues to pursue what many will see as an impossible goal: to

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How to Promote Your YouTube Videos With Google AdWords

Want to promote your YouTube channel? Wondering how to get started? In this article, you’ll discover how to set up a Google AdWords campaign with YouTube video. #1: Set Up an AdWords Campaign When you know your audience and create awesome videos that offer value to that audience, promoting videos with AdWords can help grow

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Reading Between the Lines: A 3-Step Guide to Reviewing Web Page Content

Posted by Jackie.Francis

In SEO, reviewing content is an unavoidable yet extremely important task. As the driving factor that brings people to a page, best practice dictates that we do what we can to ensure that the work we’ve invested hours and resources into creating remains impactful and relevant over time. This requires occasionally going back and re-evaluating our content to identify areas that can be improved.

That being said, if you’ve ever done a content review, you know how surprisingly challenging this is. A large variety of formats and topics alongside the challenge of defining “good” content makes it hard to pick out the core elements that matter. Without these universal focus areas, you may end up neglecting an element (e.g. tone of voice) in one instance but paying special attention to that same element in another.

Luckily there are certain characteristics — like good spelling, appealing layouts, and relevant keywords — that are universally associated with what we would consider “good” content. In this three-step guide, I’ll show you how to use these characteristics (or elements, as I like to call them) to define your target audience, measure the performance of your content using a scorecard, and assess your changes for quality assurance as part of a review process that can be applied to nearly all types of content across any industry.

Step 1: Know your audience

Arguably the most important step mentioned in this post, knowing your target reader will identify the details that should make up the foundation of your content. This includes insight into the reader’s intent, the ideal look and feel of the page, and the goals your content’s message should be trying to achieve.

To get to this point, however, you first need to answer these two questions:

  1. What does my target audience look like?
  2. Why are they reading my content?

What does my target audience look like?

The first question relies on general demographic information such as age, gender, education, and job title. This gives a face to the ideal audience member(s) and the kind of information that would best suit them. For example, if targeting stay-at-home mothers between the ages of 35 and 40 with two or more kids under the age of 5, we can guess that she has a busy daily schedule, travels frequently for errands, and constantly needs to stay vigilant over her younger children. So, a piece that is personable, quick, easy to read on-the-go, and includes inline imagery to reduce eye fatigue would be better received than something that is lengthy and requires a high level of focus.

Why are they reading my content?

Once you have a face to your reader, the second question must be answered to understand what that reader wants from your content and if your current product is effectively meeting those needs. For example, senior-level executives of mid- to large-sized companies may be reading to become better informed before making an important decision, to become more knowledgeable in their field, or to use the information they learn to teach others. Other questions you may want to consider asking:

  • Are they reading for leisure or work?
  • Would they want to share this with their friends on social media?
  • Where will they most likely be reading this? On the train? At home? Waiting in line at the store?
  • Are they comfortable with long blocks of text, or would inline images be best?
  • Do they prefer bite-sized information or are they comfortable with lengthy reports?

You can find the answers to these questions and collect valuable demographic and psychographic information by using a combination of internal resources, like sales scripts and surveys, and third-party audience insight tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights. With these results you should now have a comprehensive picture of your audience and can start identifying the parts of your content that can be improved.

Step 2: Tear apart your existing content

Now that you understand who your audience is, it’s time to get to the real work: assessing your existing content. This stage requires breaking everything apart to identify the components you should keep, change, or discard. However, this task can be extremely challenging because the performance of most components — such as tone of voice, design, and continuity — can’t simply be bucketed into binary categories like “good” or “bad.” Rather, they fall into a spectrum where the most reasonable level of improvement falls somewhere in the middle. You’ll see what I mean by this statement later on, but one of the most effective ways to evaluate and measure the degree of optimization needed for these components is to use a scorecard. Created by my colleague, Ben Estes, this straightforward, reusable, and easy to apply tool can help you objectively review the performance of your content.

Make a copy of the Content Review Grading Rubric

Note: The card sampled here, and the one I personally use for similar projects, is a slightly altered version of the original.

As you can see, the card is divided into two categories: Writing and Design. Listed under each category are elements that are universally needed to create a good content and should be examined. Each point is assigned a grading scale ranging from 1–5, with 1 being the worst score and 5 being best.

To use, start by choosing a part of your page to look at first. Order doesn’t matter, so whether you choose to first check “spelling and grammar” or “continuity” is up to you. Next, assign it a score on a separate Excel sheet (or mark it directly on the rubric) based on its current performance. For example, if the copy has no spelling errors but some minor grammar issues, you would rank “spelling and grammar” as a four (4).

Finally, repeat this process until all elements are graded. Remember to stay impartial to give an honest assessment.

Once you’re done, look at each grade and see where it falls on the scale. Ideally each element should have a score of 4 or greater, although a grade of 5 should only be given out sparingly. Tying back to my spectrum comment from earlier, a 5 is exclusively reserved for top-level work and should be something to strive for but will typically take more effort to achieve than it is worth. A grade of 4 is often the highest and most reasonable goal to attempt for, in most instances.

A grade of 3 or below indicates an opportunity for improvement and that significant changes need to be made.

If working with multiple pieces of content at once, the grading system can also be used to help prioritize your workload. Just collect the average writing or design score and sort them in ascending/descending order. Pages with a lower average indicate poorer performance and should be prioritized over pages whose averages are higher.

Whether you choose to use this scorecard or make your own, what you review, the span of the grading scale, and the criteria for each grade should be adjusted to fit your specific needs and result in a tool that will help you honestly assess your content across multiple applications.

Don’t forget the keywords

With most areas of your content covered by the scorecard, the last element to check before moving to the editing stage is your keywords.

Before I get slack for this, I’m aware that the general rule of creating content is to do your keyword research first. But I’ve found that when it comes to reviews, evaluating keywords last feels more natural and makes the process a lot smoother. When first running through a page, you’re much more likely to notice spelling and design flaws before you pick up whether a keyword is used correctly — why not make note of those details first?

Depending on the outcomes stemming from the re-evaluation of your target audience and content performance review, you will notice one of two things about your currently targeted keywords:

  1. They have not been impacted by the outcomes of the prior analyses and do not need to be altered
  2. They no longer align with the goals of the page or needs of the audience and should be changed

In the first example, the keywords you originally target are still best suited for your content’s message and no additional research is needed. So, your only remaining task is to determine whether or not your keywords are effectively used throughout the page. This means assessing things like title tag, image alt attributes, URL, and copy.

In an attempt to stay on track, I won’t go into further detail on how to optimize keywords but if you want a little more insight, this post by Ken Lyons is a great resource.

If, however, your target keywords are no longer relevant to the goals of your content, before moving to the editing stage you’ll need to re-do your keyword research to identify the terms you should rank for. For insight into keyword research this chapter in Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is another invaluable resource.

Step 3: Evaluate your evaluation

At this point your initial review is complete and you should be ready to edit.

That’s right. Your initial review.

The interesting thing about assessing content is that it never really ends. As you make edits you’ll tend to deviate more and more from your initial strategy. And while not always a bad thing, you must continuously monitor these changes to ensure that you are on the right track to create a highly valued piece of content.

The best approach would be to reassess all your material when:

  • 50% of the edits are complete
  • 85% of the edits are complete
  • You have finished editing

At the 50% and 85% marks, keep the assessment quick and simple. Look through your revisions and ask the following questions:

  • Am I still addressing the needs of my target audience?
  • Are my target keywords properly integrated?
  • Am I using the right language and tone of voice?
  • Does it look like the information is structured correctly (hierarchically)?

If your answer is “Yes” to all four questions, then you’ve effectively made your changes and should proceed. For any question you answer “No,” go back and make the necessary corrections. The areas targeted here become more difficult to fix the closer you are to completion and ensuring they’re correct throughout this stage will save a lot of time and stress in the long run.

When you’ve finished and think you’re ready to publish, run one last comprehensive review to check the performance status of all related components. This means confirming you’ve properly addressed the needs of your audience, optimized your keywords, and improved the elements highlighted in the scorecard.

Moving forward

No two pieces of content are the same, but that does not mean there aren’t some important commonalities either. Being able to identify these similarities and understand the role they play across all formats and topics will lead the way to creating your own review process for evaluating subjective material.

So, when you find yourself gearing up for your next project, give these steps a try and always keep the following in mind:

  1. Your audience is what makes or breaks you, so keep them happy
  2. Consistent quality is key! Ensure all components of your content are performing at their best
  3. Keep your keywords optimized and be prepared to do additional research if necessary
  4. Unplanned changes will happen. Just remember to remain observant as to keep yourself on track

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9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018

9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018

B2B content marketing is almost universally embraced. 87 percent of all business-to-business organizations are using content, according to an eMarketer survey of firms with 100 employees or more.

So the question about B2B content marketing isn’t WHETHER it’s a viable marketing approach. Rather, it’s WHAT must be done in 2018 to make it more viable, and HOW content marketing for B2B must change in the face of altered customer expectations and heightened competition.

eMarketer recently released a new report on this topic called B2B Content Marketing 2018. I was one of the content marketers interviewed for this study. It’s a sound and thorough report, and I encourage you to review the summary, listen to the podcast overview, and consider becoming an eMarketer PRO subscriber to get access to the entire piece.

Good news: I’ve reviewed and analyzed the complete report. Here are my favorite findings, plus commentary on what I think they mean for the future of B2B content marketing.

Publish Your Own Research

According to a survey from Ascend2, 50 percent of B2B marketers say that research reports generate leads with the highest customer conversion rates, compared to other forms of content marketing.

(Note: Convince & Convert will be kicking off a research series soon.)

50% of B2B marketers say research reports generate leads with the highest customer conversion rates. #contentmarketing
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Seek Content Downloads

The same survey from Ascend2 finds that leads with high conversion rates begin with a content download. Two-thirds of B2B content marketers believe this to be the case. Compare this to webinar registration (45 percent) and demo request (37 percent).

This surprises me. I would assume (wrongly, it appears) that a webinar registration indicates more specific and meaningful interest than a content download.

Taken in tandem with the point above about research (which is typically distributed via download, like the eMarketer report) the “make research, and allow people to download it if they provide their information” is an even more sound approach.

Know That Credibility Is Only Somewhat Important

This one is disheartening to me. Research from our friends at the Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief found that when seeking information about potential products and services in a B2B environment, prospective buyers aren’t all that concerned about where that information comes from.

40 percent of respondents say the source of the information doesn’t matter, as long as it is credible. (To which I say, “Well, then how do you know it’s credible?”)

31 percent say they prefer the information to be unbiased.

Interestingly, 24 percent prefer the information to come from the company or manufacturer that they are considering. (I call this the “fox watching the henhouse” approach to content marketing.)

Taken together, I interpret this to mean that while it is, of course, optimal to have strong third-party endorsements, creating content marketing that extolls your own virtues is more than just possible. It’s actually acceptable and desirable in many B2B consideration funnels. Fascinating!

40% of B2B buyers say when researching, the source of info doesn’t matter, as long as it’s credible.
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Consider Increasing Your Content Marketing Budget

Competition gets tougher, and audiences get more jaded. That’s the current cycle in B2B content marketing. To continue to succeed, many firms are increasing investment.

38 percent of companies in B2B anticipate boosting their content marketing budgets in 2018, according to an Informa survey.

And content is also becoming a larger and larger share of total marketing spend. Based on their research, Content Marketing Institute finds that the most successful companies in B2B are spending approximately 40 percent of all marketing dollars on content marketing.

So what do we cut in that scenario, as content vacuums up more and more budget dollars? Collateral material? Events and exhibits? Sponsorships? Print ads? Logo golf balls?

Part of this budget increase is for content marketing software, including robust editorial calendars and productivity tools.

38% of B2B companies anticipate boosting their #contentmarketing budgets in 2018
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Don’t Stop Content Marketing at the Purchase

You’ll find excellent commentary in the eMarketer report about the need for content to be created and targeted explicitly at all stages of the funnel, including post-purchase. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I wrote a whole piece about why B2B content marketers are spending their resources incorrectly and mostly ignoring content for retention:

B2B Marketers Are Working Harder Than Necessary

Think Quality, Not Quantity

The script has flipped on this equation. Back when there were still green field topics and authority to be seized, a quantity-driven strategy made sense. Now, there are very few—if any—stones unturned.

Changes to customer expectations, massively increased competition, and social media and search engine algorithm shifts have, in combination, resulted in a new content marketing world. Now, crafting the definitive piece on a particular topic is a far better idea than crafting a bunch of okay content executions across a broader topical spread.

I loved this quote from the eMarketer report:

“There’s this push for quality content over quantity,” said Timothy Morral, director of editorial content at Walker Sands Communications. “Part of it is driven, because B2B brands recognize that they need quality leads. Quality content and quality leads work in parallel.”

Exactly! Not only does quality content break through, but quality content creates quality leads, and mediocre content creates mediocre leads.

Get Good at Multi-Sensory Content Marketing

Most B2B content marketers come from a writing or publishing background, either via education or experience. This is because, for a long time, B2B marketers deployed the overwhelming majority of their content marketing in writing. B2B content marketing meant white papers, ebooks, data sheets, FAQs, and so forth.

Now, however, changing consumer content consumption patterns (powered partially by the shift to mobile and the ability to stream video just about everywhere) have made written content (like this content, ironically) less popular, in favor of multi-sensory executions like videos and interactive white papers and the like.

Companies (and Convince & Convert partners) like Vidyard and SnapApp are powering B2B video and interactive content to increase reach and conversions. Here’s an article Anthony Helmstetter, one of our Analysts, wrote on video marketing:

The 3-Part Secret to Video Marketing in 2018

Don’t Sleep on Search

Despite the shift to multi-sensory content executions to break through the clutter, a Digital Donut survey found that organic search is still the top-performing method for driving traffic to content, with 44 percent of respondents listing it as one of their top three choices.

39 percent cited email to your own list. (Although if those prospects are already on your list, it’s not really a new audience or source of traffic.) Paid search ranked third with 33 percent of respondents ranking it in the top three. Linkedin and Facebook were next, and the remaining options lagged far behind.

Organic search is still the number one tactic for driving traffic to B2B #contentmarketing
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Find Ways to Boost Relevancy

Your prospective customers, even when in active shopping mode, have no shortage of content consumption options. Content is EVERYWHERE. From you, from your competitors, and from third parties.

Content becomes disproportionately successful when it’s more interesting at the format level (video, interactivity), or more specific and relevant to the potential customer. This is what is powering the move toward account-based marketing (ABM) in B2B. In an ABM scenario, the content is by definition customized and tailored to a specific industry or company. Why? RELEVANCY is the killer app.

One of the easiest ways to boost content marketing relevancy is through personalization. If you’re not already personalizing, you’re probably behind. 68 percent of B2B marketers said they are testing personalization of content and offers, according to a Chief Marketer study.

As I acknowledged in the eMarketer study, however, while personalization is effective—and clearly is the future of content—it requires effort. This approach can be a strain on your resources and team. This is especially true if you are already having trouble getting buy-in from leadership that the existing content program is worthwhile. Asking to allocate additional funds to create highly bespoke content can be an obstacle.

There you have it. The 9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018. Thanks to eMarketer and all the other organizations that are putting out such great research and reports on this topic.

If my team and I here at Convince & Convert can help you stay ahead of customer expectations in the area of content marketing, please get in touch about a free analysis. We create Digital Marketing Maturity Maps for some of the world’s most interesting brands, and guide them as they accelerate, measure, and propel their digital. 

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How to Write Facebook Comments That Trigger Positive Feedback

How to Write Facebook Comments That Trigger Positive Feedback

Here’s something you’ll agree on:

Consumers avoid ads. They hate, ignore, and block them. Put it to the latest update of Facebook feed, and it happens that we marketers have to forget about brand communication with consumers in this social network.

Well… not really.

The core factor of marketing success on Facebook is two-way communication. For business pages, it’s crucial to understand how to write Facebook comments so consumers would respond and feel the loyalty of a brand. It makes users find themselves involved in a product development and become brand evangelists to buzz about it.

Why it’s important:

Today, people receive information about brands from social connections. They don’t trust ads but their friends and influencers they follow on Facebook. As a marketer, you need to advocate buzzing about your business; for that, do your best to communicate with the Facebook audience so they could trust you, like you, and talk about you.

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7 Mobile Apps That Create Quality Visual Content

Do you want to easily create video or images on the go? Looking for easy-to-use apps to enhance your social media visuals? In this article, you’ll discover seven mobile apps for creating quality visual content with your smartphone or tablet. #1: Remove and Insert Photo Backgrounds With Pixomatic If you market physical products, the ability

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The 2018 Local SEO Forecast: 9 Predictions According to Mozzers

Posted by MiriamEllis

It’s February, and we’ve all dipped our toes into the shallow end of the 2018 pool. Today, let’s dive into the deeper waters of the year ahead, with local search marketing predictions from Moz’s Local SEO Subject Matter Expert, our Marketing Scientist, and our SEO & Content Architect. Miriam Ellis, Dr. Peter J. Myers, and Britney Muller weigh in on what your brand should prepare for in the coming months in local.

WOMM, core SEO knowledge, and advice for brands both large and small

Miriam Ellis, Moz Associate & Local SEO SME

LSAs will highlight the value of Google-independence

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) and loyalty initiatives will become increasingly critical to service area business whose results are disrupted by Google’s Local Service Ads. SABs aren’t going to love having to “rent back” their customers from Google, so Google-independent lead channels will have enhanced value. That being said, the first small case study I’ve seen indicates that LSAs may be a winner over traditional Adwords in terms of cost and conversions.

Content will be the omni-channel answer

Content will grow in value, as it is the answer to everything coming our way: voice search, Google Posts, Google Questions & Answers, owner responses, and every stage of the sales funnel. Because of this, agencies which have formerly thought of themselves as strictly local SEO consultants will need to master the fundamentals of organic keyword research and link building, as well as structured data, to offer expert-level advice in the omni-channel environment. Increasingly, clients will need to become “the answer” to queries… and that answer will predominantly reside in content dev.

Retail may downsize but must remain physical

Retail is being turned on its head, with Amazon becoming the “everything store” and the triumphant return of old-school home delivery. Large brands failing to see profits in this new environment will increasingly downsize to the showroom scenario, significantly cutting costs, while also possibly growing sales as personally assisted consumers are dissuaded from store-and-cart abandonment, and upsold on tie-ins. Whether this will be an ultimate solution for shaky brands, I can’t say, but it matters to the local SEO industry because showrooms are, at least, physical locations and therefore eligible for all of the goodies of our traditional campaigns.

SMBs will hold the quality high card

For smaller local brands, emphasis on quality will be the most critical factor. Go for the customers who care about specific attributes (e.g. being truly local, made in the USA, handcrafted, luxury, green, superior value, etc.). Evaluating and perfecting every point of contact with the customer (from how phone calls are assisted, to how online local business data is managed, to who asks for and responds to reviews) matters tremendously. This past year, I’ve watched a taxi driver launch a delivery business on the side, grow to the point where he quit driving a cab, hire additional drivers, and rack up a profusion of 5-star, unbelievably positive reviews, all because his style of customer service is memorably awesome. Small local brands will have the nimbleness and hometown know-how to succeed when quality is what is being sold.

In-pack ads, in-SERP features, and direct-to-website traffic

Dr. Peter J. Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

In-pack ads to increase

Google will get more aggressive about direct local advertising, and in-pack ads will expand. In 2018, I expect local pack ads will not only appear on more queries but will make the leap to desktop SERPs and possibly Google Home.

In-SERP features to grow

Targeted, local SERP features will also expand. Local Service Ads rolled out to more services and cities in 2017, and Google isn’t going to stop there. They’ve shown a clear willingness to create specialized content for both organic and local. For example, 2017 saw Google launch a custom travel portal and jobs portal on the “organic” side, and this trend is accelerating.

Direct-to-website traffic to decline

The push to keep local search traffic in Google properties (i.e. Maps) will continue. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen local packs go from results that link directly to websites, to having a separate “Website” link to local sites being buried 1–2 layers deep. In some cases, local sites are being almost completely supplanted by local Knowledge Panels, some of which (hotels being a good example) have incredibly rich feature sets. Google wants to deliver local data directly on Google, and direct traffic to local sites from search will continue to decline.

Real-world data and the importance of Google

Britney Muller, SEO & Content Architect at Moz

Relevance drawn from the real world

Real-world data! Google will leverage device and credit card data to get more accurate information on things like foot traffic, current gas prices, repeat customers, length of visits, gender-neutral bathrooms, type of customers, etc. As the most accurate source of business information to date, why wouldn’t they?

Google as one-stop shop

SERPs and Maps (assisted by local business listings) will continue to grow as a one-stop-shop for local business information. Small business websites will still be important, but are more likely to serve as a data source as opposed to the only place to get their business information, in addition to more in-depth data like the above.

Google as friend or foe? Looking at these expert predictions, that’s a question local businesses of all sizes will need to continue to ask in 2018. Perhaps the best answer is “neither.” Google represents opportunity for brands that know how to play the game well. Companies that put the consumer first are likely to stand strong, no matter how the nuances of digital marketing shift, and education will remain the key to mastery in the year ahead.

What do you think? Any hunches about the year ahead? Let us know in the comments.

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How Storytelling Turned Dollar Shave Club Into a Billion Dollar-Brand

How Storytelling Turned Dollar Shave Club Into a Billion Dollar-Brand

In July 2016, Unilever shocked the business world. They were purchasing Dollar Shave Club—a startup dreamed up just five years earlier by an improv comedian named Michael Dubin— for $1 billion.

Reporters were baffled. Similar e-commerce subscription startups like Birchbox, Trunk Club, and Stitch Fix had failed to attract anywhere near the same interest. Plus, Dollar Shave Club sold blades that paled in comparison to the high-tech razors that brands Gillette and Schick were famous for. Heck, it didn’t even make its own razors! It just bought them wholesale from manufacturers in China and resold them. The billion-dollar price tag was also five times Dollar Shave Club’s expected 2016 revenue—a near-unprecedented multiple for a retail startup.

So why did Unilever pay such an unprecedented price tag? As forward-thinking analysts began to explain, it wasn’t about revenue. It was about the company’s relationships—with customers, and consumers at large. Relationships that began with possibly the greatest startup launch video of all time.

Dollar Shave Club’s Origin Story

In 1990, a group of comedians that included Amy Poehler, Adam McKay, Ian Roberts, and Horatio Sanz had created an improv group called The Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB). Before long, the UCB had its own Comedy Central TV show and served as a talent pipeline to Saturday Night Live. As class offerings expanded, it became the destination for the thousands of young creatives who stumbled out of their college acting classes and into the bright lights of New York City each year.

In the early 2000s, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin was one of those young creatives. For eight years, he honed his craft at UCB while working in various television and marketing jobs. In December 2010, he found himself at a Christmas party talking to one of his father’s friends. The conversation took an unexpected turn, and before long, the family friend was asking him for help selling 250,000 razors he had acquired from Asia. (We’ve all been there, right?) The conversation would have weirded a lot of people out, but it gave Dubin an idea. What if he started a service that would eliminate the expense and hassle of selling razor blades? What if they just showed up at your door each month for $1 each?

Faced with the challenge of getting the startup off the ground and attracting investors, Dubin knew that he had to speak to men like him. Men who were fed up with a razor monopoly that forced them to pay more than $20 for just a few blades. And so he bet big on what he does best. He created a hilarious video to connect with his target audience and cast himself as the protagonist in the Hero’s Journey of his own brand.

“Are our blades any good?” Dubin asks in the beginning of the video. “No, our blades are fucking great.”

What follows is 90 seconds of absolute absurdity that nonetheless touts all of the features of Dollar Shave Club’s razors. There’s a toddler shaving a man’s head, polio jokes, a machete, a clumsy bear, a giant American flag, and perhaps the best “make it rain” scene of all time.

The rough cut of the video convinced former Myspace CEO Michael Jones to sign on as Dubin’s partner. When the video was released on March 6, 2012, it went viral. The startup got more than 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours.

What Dollar Shave Club Got Right About Content Creation

Dollar Shave Club’s origin story highlights something powerful: The economics of marketing are changing quickly, with great content as the ultimate currency. As a result, brands that embrace great storytelling can achieve an incredible advantage over their competition.

The principles behind Dubin’s success aren’t new. Companies have always told stories to drive sales. From the very first barters made to the present day, that hasn’t changed. But everything else has. The sheer pace of technological change in how we are able to communicate our stories to each other—from the birth of radio a century ago to the hurricane of social media apps that mark the 2010s—can be daunting for brands.

On one hand, it presents a huge opportunity. Content is being published everywhere, and consumers are now immersed in stories everywhere they go. Per comScore, time spent with digital media tripled between 2010 and 2016. At last count, 65 percent of all time spent with digital media occurred on mobile devices, consumed primarily via social networks. As a result, companies that excel at storytelling can reach their target customers more effectively and at greater scale than traditional advertising ever offered—all at a fraction of the cost.

On the other hand, there’s more content now than ever. At a conference in 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed that we create as much information every two days as we did in human history up until 2003, a figure that’s only increased since.

As a result, brands can’t create mediocre content and expect to stand out. Half-baked content simply has little chance of breaking through on social or search.

“There’s not a whole lot of value in writing a decent blog post anymore. [There’s not a lot of value] unless you can be pretty extraordinary,” SEO and content analyst Rand Fishkin, who also founded Moz, told us. “Ask: If they’re searching for an answer to a question, would they rather reach your piece of content than anything else on the internet right now? Unless the answer is a slam dunk, ‘Yes, this is 10 times better than anything else out there,’ I’m not necessarily sure it’s worth publishing.”

But when you do create something amazing that stands out? The results are staggering.

Especially when you keep doing it over time.

Brands can’t create mediocre content and expect to stand out.
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How Dollar Shave Club Scaled Its Storytelling

Dubin and Dollar Shave Club continued to crank out hilarious videos that their target audience watched millions of times and shared enthusiastically. One of the best follow-ups, “Let’s Talk about #2,” introduced their new butt wipes product and made more jokes about bears pooping than you ever thought you’d see in a brand video.

It also started shipping The Bathroom Minutes, a small comic newspaper, with every order. And in late 2015, it launched MEL, one of the most ambitious editorial sites ever launched by a brand.

Dollar Shave Club's The Bathroom Minutes

As Contently managing editor Jordan Teicher wrote in The Content Strategist: “MEL is a great example of how ambitious storytelling can stand out if brands stop trying to play it safe. It’s the only place you can read articles like ‘I Went Shark Fishing and Accidentally Caught a Kilo of Coke’ or watch short documentaries about subjects like former Harvard graduates who become medieval fighters.”

In total, these videos helped build an incredibly strong brand and lasting relationships with consumers. Moreover, they helped Dollar Shave Club achieve a financial exit that seemed impossible just a few years before.

As David Pakman, a partner at Venrock and an early investor in Dollar Shave Club, explained: “There are two things that drive multiples: the financial metrics and the story.”

As Dollar Shave Club proved, the right story can make those financial metrics look five times as good.

The Storytelling EdgeThis is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. Order it today to take advantage of some awesome bonuses, and sign up for the free storytelling course based off the book.

This post is part of a paid sponsorship between Contently and Convince & Convert.

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Indirect Social Conversations – A Missed Opportunity For Brands

Indirect Social Conversations – A Missed Opportunity For Brands

Brands have adjusted to engaging on social media quite well; in fact, social media engagement is incorporated into virtually every marketing plan. It’s important, especially as it is a consumer driven initiative. When social media emerged as a way for consumers to connect with brands, it was typically one way communication. Consumers enjoyed interacting with brand posts, receiving social media driven discounts and promotions, and sharing products and services with friends and family. Once consumers found that they could “talk” to brands and get answers and help with issues, they started using it more and more frequently for a variety of purposes.

In response, brands had to find ways to ensure that they were monitoring their social sites regularly and responding in a timely manner. With some bumps in the road and thanks to the help of emerging software platforms to manage all social communication, brands were successful in acclimating to the new normal.

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