Business 2 Community

10 Strategies to Share Food Stories With Real Time Content

The relationship between food and content consolidated over time, and expanded into a whole new realm following the launch of Instagram. There was a time when food lovers and food bloggers used to gather solely in the Great Realm of Instagram. At the time Facebook had not even acquired Instagram, though the new platform rapidly became one of the fastest growing social channels on the web.
As Gene Tiernan wrote in an article titled The Digital Recipe for Marketing Food “food is experiential.” According to Tiernan, the food experience constitutes an innate push to share insights, reviews, and other valuable content across social media to provide useful information for social networks. “Food is inherently social,” according to Tiernan.
A significant number of Scribblelive clients, recognizing the experiential and social phenomenon, created their own content experiences about food in all its forms. These cases are as diverse as the colourful tastes of Dubai, the world class chefs and nutritionists within Australia, and also the exquisite experience of one of Italy’s greatest chefs.
This tour will explore global examples and identify 10 strategies used by food buffs to create streams of food related content that were then shared across social media.
1- Create a Real Time Content Marketing Hub
Dr Oetker and Kenna part of MDC – Oetkernews
Canada
The agency Kenna part of MDC Parters, created their own content marketing experience on the website Oetkernews. The website’s server is based within Canada, and maintains an English version and a French version of all curated content.
Utilizing ScribbleLive technology, Kenna created an ‘Engagement Hub’, an online meeting place that provides consumers with information about Dr. Oetker’s latest products and latest trends. The Hub includes metrics that gauge how many people visit the site, how much time they spend online, and the most important information sought by those visitors.
Kenna pinned every one of the tour festivals on an interactive map.
Oetkernews Home Page
The website is enriched with multiple content experiences with particular attention paid to the individual festival’s page. When the audience clicks on one of the locations on the map, they are directed to a dedicated webpage which contains:
a core stream featuring user generated content published with the hashtag #TrattoriaToura left-side stream showcasing the best tweets that express love for the Festivala poll about the overall experienceThe focus of the Trattoria Tour is the festival experience. However, the foodies are provided their own treats. Every week a slideshow is published with new recipes in the OwnYourSweetTooth section. Users with their own recipes are also invited to share them on the main social networks.
Dr Oetker Recipes
2- Curate Content Published in Different Online Communities
Iceland – Get Social
United Kingdom
The next stop on the journey brings us to the United Kingdom and the social community named Iceland – not the country. Iceland is one of the most famous brands in the frozen food market. Part of Iceland’s strategy is an emphatic focus on social media engagement. The best discussions occurring on social media channels are displayed in a pinboard published on the community webpage Get Social!
Iceland Community Social Wall

3 – Cover a Food Fair and Create a Consistent Brand Identity Online and Offline
Nestlé Maggi – #MaggiArabia
United Arab Emirates
The winter season in Dubai finishes with an event called Taste of Dubai. Local and global food brands join the fair, open their own stalls, and promote their foods to the public. It is very common to see live cooking shows where attendees can acquire free food samples. One of the most famous restaurants in the region also opens a pop up venue during the fair, providing a unique dining experience.

Nestlé Maggi wanted to create a live experience in its stand. A pinboard was displayed for the duration of the entire fair, encouraging the audience to share its own pictures. A member of the Scribblelive team enhanced the live coverage by uploading videos and images accessible using the mobile app. The Maggi team moderated the content from the backend to create a harmonized platform of published content and user generated content.
4 – Include Readers in the Coverage
Mindener Tageblatt – Wie royal isst Minden? Live-Blog zur Gourmetmeile #mindenroyale
Germany
“How exactly is the Andalusian octopus cooked?” “What are tonka beans?” Most importantly, why Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II was spotted in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany? These are just some of the questions that the editors of the German newspaper Mindener Tageblatt answered during their liveblog of the local food festival Gourmetmeile. The audience played an essential role in the coverage by updating the stream with their own food reviews as well as pictures of attendees in costume. Prior to the festival, the editorial team invited users to submit pictures, tweets, or videos using the hashtag #mindenroyale or with a dedicated email address, which was directly funneled in the moderation queue.

5 – Use the Account of a Food Critic to Judge a Festival
Star Tribune – Food critic tastes all the new foods at Minnesota State Fair, and tells all
Minnesota, USA
Food is not a joke. In some cases, it is considered a sport. That is the impression provided by Rick Nelson, food critic of the Minneapolis based newspaper Star Tribune, who tasted more than 50 new foods in less than 24 hours. His twitter diary was accurately updated in the whitelabel of the newspaper to preserve the marathon through history.
6 – Organize a Live Chat with a Celebrity Chef
Perthnow – Celebrity chef Anna Gare answers all your cooking questions
Australia
In 2014 Australian newspaper PerthNow launched a campaign called Get Active Get Healthy on its weekly insert The Sunday Times. Numerous celebrities were invited to take part in online Q&A sessions as well as food lovers, fitness nerds, and health conscientious foodies through various live chats. One of the participants was Chef Anna Gare, who responded to questions submitted from the front end of the stream using her ability to moderate from the back end.
chef Anna Gare answers her fan questions
7 – Crowdsource Food Recipes
T-Online – Pflaumenkuchen: Welcher Teig ist der beste für den saftigen Kuchen?
Germany
Let’s go back to Germany and talk about plum cake. T-online’s Journalist Martina Hansper published the official recipe of this particular and popular fruitcake. She then launched a liveblog where the audience was invited to present alternative recipes, different plating techniques, and other equivalent strategies in an engaging atmosphere.
T-Online readers answering polls
8 – Create a Second Screen Experience for TV Audience
Nordbayerischer Kurier – Wie gut ist unser Bier?
Germany
The German state of Bavaria is very proud of their beers. The local newspaper Nordbayerischer Kurier organized a second screen blog supporting the tv show How Good Is Our Beer?. This coverage had two primary goals:
Engaging the audience with polls and social media interactions
Encouraging experts to participateFour local brewers were invited to the newsroom and watched the tv shows with journalists. The entire back stage was converted for the event as the experts answered audience questions, launched polls, and commented on events as they occurred. One of the experts says: “People often say ‘I never thought how long it takes for a beer to be ready!’ The level of appreciation is always different when someone tries himself or herself to brew his/her own beer.”
Nordbayerischer Kurier hosts four brewers in the news room
9 – Create Partnership Between Food Brands and Newspapers
VareseNews – Corsi Tigros
Italy
Tigros Supermercati is a supermarket chain spread in the province of Varese, located in northern Italy. Every year Tigros organizes two cooking course sessions. Each course contains 10 classes run by famous chefs. VareseNews, a popular local newspaper, covers each course from the beginning stages of shopping in the supermarket until a new recipe is delivered. The courses are attended by the subscribers of Tigros’ loyalty program.

Marco Giovannelli, Director of VareseNews explained how he came up with this particular monetization strategy.
“Tigros wanted to publish traditional display advertising. I convinced them to experiment this particular form of real time branded content. We didn’t have high expectations in terms of audience. The reality is that now every class’ coverage reaches 1000 unique visitors.”
Stefania Radman, the journalist who takes care of the coverage explained how she covers the classes:
“I use Scribblelive to tell in real time what happens in the class. For the videos I use the ability to auto-post content in the stream when a video is published on my Instagram account”.
10 – Always on Coverage of EXPO 2015
Repubblica Milano – Expo, Milano al centro del mondo. La diretta
Italy
We arrive at the end of this global tour on a stop in Milano, which is hosting the Universal Exhibition of 2015. The title of this edition of EXPO is Feeding the planet, Energy for life. Once again, food is the protagonist.

The journalists of La Repubblica, one of the most popular newspapers in Italy, will use a liveblog throughout the entire EXPO experience to publish fresh content. The queue to access the international pavilions will include politicians, experts and thought leaders discussing the growth, development and role of food in global society. The first post was published on May 1st, 2015, which was inauguration day at the fair. From inauguration day until the close of the expo on October 31st, editors in the newsroom are curating tweets from reporters on the ground to create a real time diary of the event.

3 Ways To Hurt Your Career

A friend of mine was sharing his frustration over what he perceived to be a stagnating career. He felt he was “going nowhere…fast.” While he had the credentials, track record, and experience to be a game changer in his company, he was often the last one chosen to lead key projects, rarely got management’s buy-in for his team to get necessary resources, and recently had two of his direct reports moved to another department, without his input.
Are you hurting your career?Building a strong and compelling personal brand puts you in a position of influence over the opportunities you desire. For professionals seeking management jobs, a solid personal brand must be compelling and attractive to decision makers who can advance your career in that direction.
While most of us are acting with good intentions, our behaviors can actually be sabotaging our chances for desired success.
Here are three prime examples:
1/ Class Clown
Have you been in meetings with the Class Clown? This is the person who insists on dropping joke bombs whenever the mood strikes – appropriate or not. These may or may not be full jokes, too. The Class Clown often blurts out one liners, punch lines, or innuendos, stopping the flow of the discussion mid-thought.
While entertaining and fun to be around, the Class Clown can be disruptive to the discussion and is often not taken seriously. One man I worked with was in the IT field. During daily stand up team meetings, he would often blurt out something like, “That’s what she said,” when the team was in the midst of project management challenges or even “Say hello to my little friend…” when asked to update on his progress.
Of course everyone giggled and appreciated the momentary levity, but in fact he was slowing progress of the team because they needed to get back on track after his “jokes.” Over time, his team started avoiding him or leaving him out of serious discussions because they feared being sidelined by his humor.
2/ Office Mom
Years ago, I met a young woman who told me, “I’ve got a reputation in my office as ‘the office mom.’” She continued, “Everybody calls me the office mom, and I get feedback that I’m important because I take care of everyone. I’m getting passed up for promotions, and I don’t think I’m getting any respect because I have this brand, this label.” Being known as ‘the office mom’ is clearly hindering her opportunities.
What was she doing to create this reputation? She was the person who organized the Friday afternoon parties, always set up the meetings with the napkins and the coffee pot and the bottled waters, and she also cleaned up after gatherings. She was the one that made sure everybody got a birthday card on his or her birthday. She was a very giving, generous, warm person, but because she was feeding into this perception, she was limiting her opportunities.
3/ Pleading the Fifth
A young lawyer I know half-heartedly shared that her career was hindered by what she called her tendency to “plead the fifth.” Not literally, of course, but she noticed a pattern in herself that she withheld her opinion or recommendations in critical discussions with the partners in her firm because she feared being ridiculed. She was a junior lawyer, and her experience was sparse. She bit her tongue and didn’t offer insight or ideas, when the rest of the team was happy to do so.
Initially, she related it to her Asian heritage and the fact that she was a woman. “I was raised to be quiet and reserved,” she told me. Over time, she realized that not speaking up and voicing her thoughts was holding her back. “Sometimes I wonder if they even know I’m in the room,” she feared.
Learning to be more vocal and participatory took time and work for her, but in the end, she earned a reputation as a valued contributor. Even in the cases where her opinion or contribution was way off… and others snickered… she learned to laugh at herself instead of retreating back into her shell.
Rebuilding a brand that has been tarnished because of counterproductive behavior requires awareness, strategy, and consistent (positive) behavior. It’s not enough to want to change and expect everyone will see you differently. It takes time to remove a negative brand perception and begin to be taken serious in the organization.

The Crowd Sale Experiment

What would you rather do: sell your thing one at a time to many people? Or sell your thing all at once to many people?
Hmmm. I thought so.
So why do we — so often — attempt to find new clients and customers one at a time?
Group sales are not a new concept.
Folks have been offering group sales forever — for everything from theater tickets to ball games to workshops.
What about you? Have you ever done a group sale?
Could you find a gathering of like-minded folks (e.g., a service club, a large employer, or a professional association) and make them an offer based on filling X number of seats or buying X number of things?
And if you could, why wouldn’t you?
The group would do the selling for you to their people. You’d deliver the product or service all at once. Easy peasy.
But what if you don’t have access to a formal gathering of like-minded folks?
Usually, we substitute an official group sale with offering a discount to a group. “You and your pals get a 10% discount.”
And that does work. Sometimes.
When it doesn’t work it’s because people being presented your offer don’t really know you or your product.
A better option is to encourage word-of-mouth referrals. (Because we’re much more likely to purchase something based on a recommendation from a friend or colleague.)
Many folks incentivize — sometimes formally — a special offer for existing clients. BOGO (buy one, get one) offers fall into this category as well.
Word-of-mouth is both the highest AND the most coveted source of new business for companies in nearly every industry.
Even online.
So how do you lean on the power of your audience or existing clients in new and interesting ways?
Time to consider a Crowd Sale
There’s a newish option out there that rewards buyers by lowering a price based on the number of people who are willing to buy it.
You pledge to buy something at a discount. AND you’re encouraged to share the offer because the more folks who also pledge to buy, the deeper the discount goes for everyone.
That’s the idea behind a Crowd Sale. And it’s a model being employed by The Game Crafter to help their clients sell more products.
The Game Crafter is an online shop for print-on-demand game components — you know, all those things you might need to make if you’d invented a new game: a board, cards, playing pieces, and the box they come in.
When you’re putting together a prototype of your new game, you can order wooden bits and dice and plastic pawns, or even custom-printed cards and boards. And once you’re happy with your design, you could even put it up for sale in TGC’s online shop. Just decide how much profit you want to earn from each sale, and The Game Crafter does the rest.
This is the company I’m using to create and sell my Tarotic Story Prompt Cards and they’ve been awesome to work with.
TGC’s crowd sale model is pretty unique.
I was unable to find other examples of this sort of discount/purchase structure, probably because the purchase mechanism to do so isn’t widely available.
To be clear, a crowd sale offers EACH buyer the same discount based on the final total of buyers who pledge to purchase.
So if you pledge to buy on Day 1, you’re guaranteed the starting discount (which in my case is $5), but nobody actually pays anything until the sale is over and the number of pledges have been counted.
My Crowd Sale lasts for one week, starting tomorrow (Tuesday, September 8th). And we only need to get to 100 copies pledged before we ALL get the full 41% discount.
Here’s the breakdown:

Yep, this is — for me — an experiment in pricing models.
And the story this model tells.
Do you feel like this is a gimmick? Or do you feel like you’re part of a larger community with this kind of offer?
It’s important to me to know!
So, if you’ve decided to buy a Tarotic Story Prompts deck or two, I’d love to hear from you.
Tell me anything and everything you feel comfortable with sharing. About how and where you shared the offer. And what kind of response your friends and colleagues have to something like this.
I’m gathering data about how much the offer is shared and where, and I’ll share with you once the crowd sale is over next week. I’m sure you want to know whether or not something like this could work for you.
Let’s find out together.

12 Most Common Mistakes Businesses Make In Social Media (And How To Avoid Them)

Social media is one of the very best ways to get your brand out there and engaged with, but it is so easy to make huge mistakes on social. Do any of the things in this article and you will find that your social media presence suddenly becomes worthless, even harmful to your company.
1. Getting the profile wrong
Missing the chance to make an impact from the outset.
Don’t forget that, especially as a small business, your social media profiles are the very first things that prospects see. If they are not developed carefully enough, and if they don’t present your company in a good light, you have absolutely no excuse when the whole thing comes crashing down about your ears. To combat this potentially serious problem, you need to ensure that all of your data is on the bio. This means your company details and your URL when it comes to your main site. This is vital, but you would be surprised how many companies get it wrong. It is absolutely incredible that some businesses out there have what can only be described as ‘uninspiring’ profiles on all the major social media channels they are a part of. For more tips, go here.

2. Not monitoring the conversation
Ignoring what people say about your business.
If you are an established small business, you will have a presence online. If you have a presence online, then you should be monitoring it. This is another classic mistake that companies make. They ignore the fact that people are talking about them online and basically stick their heads in the sand. Customers actually take this to a new level by expecting you to keep an eye on the mentions and other aspects of your online presence. If you don’t respond to stuff that is being said about your company online you are simply asking for trouble. For more information on companies that don’t monitor conversations about their business, try this.
3. Handling negativity badly
Sticking your head in the sand, or yanking it out and screaming.
If you’re looking for real failure with social media then simply ignore, delete or get angry about negativity. There is going to be some negativity aimed at your company online, and this will only get worse as your company develops and become more successful. If you delete comments that are negative, people will notice and they will just write more. If you ignore them, there is at least a chance that you appear to ‘rise above’ stuff, which works for a while. If you get angry though, then there is an absolute firestorm heading your way. Keep calm and respond in a sensible and focused manner, and people will love you for it.
4. Not being human
Insisting on a dry, corporate voice.
Get the voice right if you want to survive on social. Too many companies sound automated, literally like robots when they respond to people or when they post updates. Bring some humour into it and this way people will genuinely warm to you and see this as being part of your brand. What’s more, they will like you.
5. Making your DMs automated
Not responding personally.
The biggest fail right now for companies on Twitter is the old classic: the automated DM that tells people that you’re super happy to get to know them and to keep looking out for each other’s tweets. This sounds as robotic as you’d expect, and people are starting to switch off from it. Take your time on Twitter when finding new followers anyway (see next point), but most definitely avoid treating them like another number. Respond personally, and watch the engagement rise.
6. Over following on Twitter
Not keeping it targeted.
As another aspect of the previous point, stop following millions of people every year. Twitter is now working better as a social media platform for people who follow genuinely interesting people, or users who would be interested in what you have to offer on the platform. Blanket follow, and the audience will become something you would rather avoid, especially when you see meaningless tweets and messages flashing up that just waste your time. Get connected to people who mean something to you and you can’t go wrong.
7. Ignoring calls to action
A recipe for low ROI.
If you want to ensure that people actually get something out of your social media content and give something back to you (ROI), you need to ensure that there is some call to action at least some of the time. It is easy to just send out a bunch of tweets and write a few blog posts that show great expertise and insight, but not much else. If people like what you do, they should be able to find out more about you and engage with you more. Who knows, they may even buy something at some point. Include a call to action on your social media and you will find that the ROI just grows and grows.
8. Over-automating your presence
Something that Facebook is getting cross about.
Avoid the automated update stuff. Facebook has been known to get rather angry with businesses that automate their updates, because it wants to see more people actually engaging with the audience they’re trying to build up. Spend time talking to customers and your wider audience, and try your best to mix up any automaton with some genuine content that you have created yourself.
9. Using hashtags too much
Even three is too much.
We won’t actually use one in this section, but the overuse of hashtags has made social media a bit of a minefield for the casual observer (i.e. prospects). Hashtags are way overused and people are now switching off when they see them. The worst businesses include more than three hashtags in their tweets for example (and we think that is pretty rich, to be honest). No one wants death by hashtag, so show some mercy. For more insight on hashtags and tracking hashtags, go here.
10. No social plan
You need a social media marketing strategy.
Not having a plan is a pretty big mistake. Too many businesses just build out their Twitter page and their Facebook presence and then sit back, expecting people to rush out there and connect with them. This is not how the world works, and it is most certainly an easy way to fail on social media. You need to get people to come to you through some super-savvy marketing. Publicise your social media channels on your blog, your business card, and even the side of your car if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t just wait for people to come to you. Social media is a funny thing. There are millions of people using it, but it is almost impossible to find an audience unless you talk about your social media in the real world, or on other channels. At the very least, if you’re an established company, send out a press release when you post your very first tweet, for example.
11. Obsessing on follower numbers
It’s all about the quality, not the quantity.
Don’t get hooked on poring over your numbers either. It is very easy to become obsessed with looking at your follower numbers and expecting these to translate into sales. The best thing you can do on social is focus on creating high-quality content that makes people sit up and listen. This is the only way you gain an ROI from your hard work. Having fifty million followers on a platform just means that fifty million people have clicked on your name. They won’t avidly read your content unless it is relevant and valuable to them.
12. Not keeping it fresh
Regular, consistent content is important.
Finally, get fresh content out as often as is reasonable. Don’t be that company that posts 50 times a day and hopes that people come and buy. Instead, focus on creating regular content or sharing content on a very consistent basis. This way, people will know when to expect you to join the conversation, and this knowing will mean that they will welcome you.
So there are the twelve most common mistakes you can make on social media. All of them are easy to make (we all want to deny we did number 12 at least once, for example), but if you can avoid them, your social presence will only grow over time.

3 Things About Digital Marketing Your Boss Wants To Know

Marketing is a profession that is mired in confusion, buzzwords, and complexity. It can be hard to know where to start your day as a marketer, what goals to set and ultimately what your purpose in life is (especially if you work for a brand). I’ve always found that in situations like that, it is best to find out what is most important to the person that signs your paycheck. With that said, here are three things your boss want you to know about digital marketing:
Inbound is great, but I want customers – If you are all about tracking metrics such as “website visits”, “social likes and shares,” or “MQL’s, SQL’s, Opps, etc…” that’s all well and good, but I will tell you a secret: there are only two metrics your boss really cares about. How many new customers did your digital marketing programs help create and how much REVENUE did those customers bring in?
Cost per lead>Number of Leads Generated – Phenomenal! You got 500 leads from that trade show when a bunch of untargeted prospects through their business card in a fishbowl to win an iPad. That effort cost you $20 per lead and you got one customer out of it. I hope you are sensing the sarcasm. Better would be: you got 250 leads from a webinar demoing your product. That effort cost you $10 a lead and you got 8 customers out of it.
What’s working and What’s Not? – As a marketer, you’re doing SEO, blog, tradeshows, webinars, email campaigns and you have hired a marketing agency to take care of your SEM and PPC, you’ve got everything covered. Your boss does not care how many digital marketing (or offline marketing) programs you are trying your hand at, all he or she cares about is which ones you are executing on. If you aren’t able to tell what’s working and what’s not so you can fine tune or trim the fat – your boss does not give a rip.
Honestly, there are probably more and of course what matters to your boss also depends on who you directly report to. However, I imagine the above are some very solid starting points for you to consider when you start to build your digital marketing plan and goals. The takeaway here is that the goal as a marketer ultimately is to help influence the bottom line for your business by generating new customers through effective digital marketing programs and channels. What are some things your boss cares about as it relates to digital marketing?

The Four Types of Intent

Understanding intent is key to improving the quality of communication. This post describes the four types of intent in detail and provides useful tips for people who want to display positive intent.
Introduction
There are four types of intent that underlie all communication: affirming,controlling, defending, and withdrawing. Everyone displays all four types of intent, but the object of excellent communicators is an affirming intent.
Here’s what each type of intent feels like.
Affirming Intent
Your mind is open, your body feels relaxed and confident, you feel open to hearing other points of view, you feel you’re in a position of strength because you have a high level of confidence in the people around you. You know that the best outcome is likely to come when everyone is sharing his or her points of view openly, no matter how challenging, letting the best rationale win the day.
Controlling Intent
Your mind is focused on achieving a specific outcome and advocating a specific position; you want to limit debate and discussion and options; you’re not all that receptive to other points of view. Your body is somewhat stressed, you certainly don’t feel relaxed. You’re not confident that an open sharing of viewpoints will result in an outcome that is best – probably because you sense a conflict between your agenda and other people’s.
Defending Intent
You’re trying to defend a position against what you perceive to be an attack. You can feel the emotion inside triggering higher levels of adrenaline. Your focus is on protecting yourself against an opponent whom you perceive to be formidable. Your pride and your reputation feel at stake. Typically your communication becomes shriller and more barbed, less relaxed and less productive.
Withdrawing Intent
You feel burnt up. You have stopped talking and listening. You’d like to get up and walk out. Mentally you already have. The only thing preventing you from physically removing yourself is the feeling that it would cause further embarrassment and damage to your reputation. Communication is done for the day until you have a chance to regroup and get a clearer perspective on your value to the group.
Improving Communication
It’s easy to have an affirming intent when you feel comfortable with the people around you. When your intent is affirming, then your communication is naturally open, relaxed, and friendly. You are curious to hear other people’s ideas; you’re open to sharing your own. In short, you’re a brilliant communicator.
The challenge comes when you feel threatened. All of a sudden your intent shifts into a controlling or defending mode. If things go badly, your intent might shift further into withdrawal. The sooner you can shift back, the better. The trick is to make yourself aware of the change in your intent, decide to do something about it, and then take the right course of action.
How to shift gears into an affirming intent:
Find a way to relax. Breathe deeply. Laugh. Think of things that make you Allow yourself to enjoy whatever you are doing, however, you choose to enjoy it. If necessary, get up and take a break. Jog around the block. In short, change your physical mood and let that work some magic on your psyche. As psychologists say: “Act yourself into a way of feeling.”
Focus on understanding why you feel threatened, and ascertain whether it’s a legitimate threat or simply your own “stuff” being transferred to another person. If you come to realize it’s your own stuff, then that awareness may help you feel more relaxed. If possible, jot down your awareness, refer to it later and discuss with a trusted friend why it happens.
Focus on your strengths – what you do well. If someone else is bugging you, focus on their strengths, too, and say something appreciative about them. And remember that no one has absolute clarity or the gift of perfection. Business teams and organizational groups are filled with a wild assortment of imperfect human beings who need each other’s help and support to achieve productive communication and decisions. You’re one of them. Relax and join in.
This post was originally published at CommunicationStyles.org.

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus On This Instead.

We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives — getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on.
And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.
What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.
It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.
Let me explain.
The Difference Between Goals And Systems
What’s the difference between goals and systems?
If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.
Now for the really interesting question:
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?
I think you would.
As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year. In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have written enough to fill two books this year.
All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”
What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.
Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.
1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”
The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”
SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.
Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.
But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.
When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.
SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.
I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.
In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.
But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.
Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.
3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.
You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)
But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.
SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.
Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high-quality traffic to my site.
Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.
Fall In Love With Systems
None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.
Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.
This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.
Thanks to Scott Adams for his Wall Street Journal article, which helped prompt this piece.

Video Is The Future of Content Marketing

Lights! Camera! Conversion!
My great-grandmother Michaelena always told me – ‘you ought to be pictures … you sweety, little boy’. Little did I know she was advising me about my future and the future of content marketing!
More customers consume content as part of their buying journey – a likely mix of short attention span, content clutter and the evolution of the buyer. In fact, Microsoft reported in a 2015 study that humans have an 8-second attention span vs. a goldfish’s 9-second hold. So, if you are to hook and catch your customer – video seems to be the winning content bait.

Video content is the critical door into the content marketing world of your customers, influencers, and social media tribe – since it’s where the consumption trends and short-term differentiation sit. Brands who understand the potential impact of video can build solutions for the big content equations – finding a way to connect with their customers and differentiate from their competitors!
Research Backing Up Why Video Is The Future Of Content Marketing
Here is research provide some attention-getting insights on video and your customers:
People Consume Video Content – Whether or Not You Create It. 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video – suggesting video formats like Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and others will be must-view and must-produce content. (Source: SalesForce, 2015)
Customers Purchase After Viewing A Video. 64 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it – suggesting you can monetize your video content marketing investment. (Source: Adelie Studios, 2015)
Video Makes Your Brand Sticky – In A Good Way. The average internet user spends 88 percent more time on a website with video than without – indicating video can help drive the attention span around your brand. (Source: Adelie Studios, 2015)
Most Of Your Competitors Are Not Using Video. Only 24 percent of brands are using online video to market to consumers – shining the light on a potential to increase your market share. (Source: Adelie Studios, 2015)

3 Key Ways Rock Your Content Marketing World With Video
1. Use Video To Tell Your Story. Do you create video because it’s a cool thing to do – because of a big event, popular trend, and it’s what you supposed to do? Or, do you tie your video creation to your overall business narrative or messaging house – so it supports your overall story?
2. Develop Your Video Content Creation Strategy. Do you create video content in a silo with your agency or social media marketing department? Or, do you think about your ‘big content’ strategy – variations of 6-second Vines, Instagram segments, animated GIFs ahead of time?
3. Create Your Video Content Distribution Strategy. It’s many a person’s dream to be in a video, but is your video content marketing strategy built on a field of dreams? If you create you video and no one views it – did you ever really create your video? A solid video marketing strategy needs to have an organic-first distribution plan including – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, etc.

Now, I want to point the camera at you. Do you have a comment or feedback on video’s future in content marketing, brand building, and driving sales? If so, please comment below.

The K.I.S.S Guide to Facebook Scheduling

If you’re new to Facebook marketing, a great (and most commonly used) feature of Facebook Pages is scheduled posts.
Why schedule a post?
Apart from the obvious, scheduling posts can bring more engagement to your page. For example if your audience is most engaged at 11:00pm, but if you’re already tucked up in bed you can schedule a post to reach your audience at peak time without having to manually posting it.
It also allows you to post more regularly and increase your frequency without spending all day on Facebook.
Last month while teaching Social Media for Small Business 101, I realized while we might think it’s common practice, many still aren’t sure how to use the feature.
The K.I.S.S Guide to Scheduling Facebook Posts
Step 1 Write your post
Write your post as you normally would. Attach photos, add links, YouTube videos, and tag other pages and events or just regular text.

Step 2 Schedule the date and time
In the lower right hand corner of the post, next to the blue publish button locate the small downward facing arrow. Click on it.

You can now add the year, month, day and time you want the post to go out.
Notice that you can also backdate your posts to supplement your Timeline if you want the post to appear back in time.

You can schedule your post up to 6 months in the future (more months are shown, but if you select more than 6 months out, Facebook won’t accept it).
Once you have everything set, just click the blue Schedule button.
Step 3 Find your scheduled posts
To see what you have scheduled and make any changes, just click scheduled posts at the top of your last post. You then see all of your scheduled posts.

Step 4 Edit your scheduled posts
If you need to edit your scheduled post, you can edit the date, time and text of the post but not the image. To edit the image, you must cancel the post and redo your scheduling.

K.I.S.S word of warning: Don’t set and forget
While scheduling great content is a good start, scheduling out loads of content with no one to monitor the engagement is big no no. If your audience responds, you need to be there to respond back, after all that’s what social conversations are all about.

10 Free Tools to Help You Grow Your Business

“Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. Poor distribution—not product—is the number one cause of failure.” This Peter Thiel quote should be heeded by every startup founder reading this. Honestly, I’ve made this mistake myself, in my previous failed entrepreneurial experience.
And how many times you’ve seen friends, co-workers or teams pitching their ideas, where there’s a fantastic team, a brilliant product but zero effort on understanding how to distribute the whole package.
Without an excellent distribution model, your business will fail. If you build it, they won’t come. Marketing is at the heart of any good distribution framework, and as a fledgling startup, it’s critical that your company finds cost-effective tools to help amplify your network as quickly as possible.
That’s where this list comes in. Each tool is free to use at least for a “freemium” plan, and will make a genuinely positive impact on your company.
1. SEMrush: From doing competitive analysis, to SEO keyword research, SEMrush is an incredibly powerful tool that will empower you and your colleagues to appraise your company’s online performance in minutes. Their free-to-use starter plan provides insightful data that other company’s would make you pay to see. It’s a must use platform, without a doubt.
2. BuzzSumo: If you’re interested in harnessing the power of content marketing, but don’t know where to begin, BuzzSumo is the tool to use. Simply enter a URL or keyword, and this social media monitoring tool will show you the 10 most-shared articles for free. While you have to pay to see other highly shared articles, a top 10 list associated with a specific keyword or website will help you jump-start your content marketing strategy.
3. Canva: Gone are the days where you needed to rely on an Adobe Illustrator expert to create a great looking logo, blog post header, or social media background. Canva is an incredibly intuitive design tool that empowers business owners to quickly create professional graphics.
4. Google Analytics: Probably no introductions needed here. Stop wondering how many people are visiting your website, from where, via what method. Google Analytics provides users a set of rich information, perfect for a new startup interested in analyzing user behavior. Use the “behavior flow” tool to see what pages most of your visitors view first, and to see how visitors explore your website from there. That’ll help you to better optimize their site for UX.
5. GetSocial: Virality is a startup founder’s best friend. You can’t create it without highly clickable social share buttons. That’s where GetSocial comes in, with its social media app store that helps websites improve their traffic, shares, followers and conversions. Also, they’ve optimized the whole mobile social sharing experience.
6. Buffer: Becoming an influencer on social media has never been so easy. Buffer allows you to schedule 10 Tweets, LinkedIn posts or, Facebook posts and tracks all key metrics. Plus, the platform will suggest relevant content for you to share, so that you can grow your audience by providing valuable and relevant content. Buffer is one of the best social media monitoring platforms around and is a must use for founders.
7. Trello: This task management platform is free to use, and will help you stay organized as a business and as a marketer. You can create segmented columns with Trello, which will help you stay on-top of various marketing initiatives like blog posting, social media, and email marketing. Plus you can share Trello boards with your team, that way everyone will be aligned on what needs to get done. On a side note, I use Trello for everything: from shopping list, to finding an apartment to rent, to our day-to-day product management. I also love the use case from the guys at Uservoice.
8. Hubspot Marketing Grader: Hubspot is an all-in-one marketing automation system. While it costs quite a bit to actually use Hubspot, the company offers the Hubspot Marketing Grader that will analyze the overall performance of your marketing strategy online. Use insights from Hubspot to understand what is working and what needs to be fixed if your business is to scale.
9. MozBar: Learn why various website are ranking on Google with the MozBar. This Chrome and FireFox extension shows users ranking factors like page authority, and social media performance as they browse the web. It’s an ideal free tool for founders interested in better understand their competitors and SEO in general.
10 Headline Analyzer: Whether you’re writing a blog post, titling a new page on your website, or editing your pitch deck, headlines have a huge impact on the overall performance of a written marketing initiative. That’s where Co.Schedule’s Headline Analyzer Tool comes in. Simply paste your headline into the tool and it will grade your headline on an F to A scale for virality.
While creating a product that customers can’t resist is a critical component to building any successful startup, building a marketing machine is another key component to creating a business that scales quickly. These 10 free to use marketing tools are sure to make it easier for any founder to grow his or her business quickly.