Posted on October 31, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/31

We hope you had another fantastic week. Let’s end this Friday on a high note by looking at the best marketing articles from the past few days. These are generated using the Appinions platform, looking at the most influential opinions and articles, in a variety of marketing topics, from the past 7 days.

Spooky and Successful Viral Content Marketing for Halloween – Dawn Papandrea, Business2Community

Are you ready for Halloween? This article shows you all the brands that are, and their clever content for the occasion.

The Marketing Trends of 2015 – Jackie Crossman, B&T

Just because it’s only October doesn’t mean we can’t start predicting marketing trends for 2015. Jackie Crossman weighs in with a few prognostications.

The Science Behind an Innovator’s Popular Decks – Lorraine K. Lee, SlideShare Blog

Does your company make use of SlideShare? Here are some clever tips and tricks to maximize your exposure, focusing on a company whose slides have passed 2.5 million views. Now that’s a scary amount of traffic!

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on October 29, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Planning for Content Marketing: A Strategy for Success

While marketers have relied on content in some form to power their campaigns for decades, the past few years have seen content marketing rise from something only the savviest brands did to an absolute essential for any marketing organization. In a world where 90% of the buyer’s journey occurs before a customer even reaches out to you, producing high quality, engaging content is crucial to influencing the purchasing decision.

This represents an exciting opportunity for marketing organizations to step up and own more of the sales funnel. But like any opportunity, there are enormous challenges: knowing what content to produce, creating content at scale, unifying stakeholders behind a common voice, finding great authors, ensuring your content is read by the right people, and measuring the performance of your content. Fortunately, with a smart plan, all of these are achievable goals.

There are 7 key elements to a content marketing plan:

  1. Forming an editorial board
  2. Setting your target market
  3. Determining goals and ownership structures
  4. Establishing your niche and voice
  5. Building an editorial calendar
  6. Setting up a workflow
  7. Measuring and making use of success

Let’s dive into each of these elements to understand the best practices that build a successful content marketing organization.

Forming An Editorial Board

While content marketing is usually owned by the marketing department, it can often evolve into a cross-disciplinary operation, especially in large organizations. Parts of your MarCom team are already working on many projects that will be closely related to your content, be they from the web team, marketing intelligence, social media, lead gen, or even events. Naturally sales and account management will want a say on what you produce as well, while certain organizations may need sign offs from legal or compliance departments.

Aligning all these disparate teams into an Editorial (or Advisory) Board not only heads off conflicts before they can occur, but assures that all your best ideas come together in a unified manner. Your whole organization will understand what content is being produced and when, so that as soon as you have a great new story written it can be Tweeted, emailed, given to your sales team, and more.

With an Editorial Board, you’ll know your organization is making the most out of every bit of content produced. In a world where up to 70% of content produced by B2B companies isn’t getting used, this is of vital importance.


Setting Your Target Market

Like any marketing campaign, your content needs to be unified around a set audience or target market. This is doubly important when it comes to brand storytelling, as you’re not just trying to sell your wares, you’re telling stories that your audience WANTS to hear. But without knowing who your audience is, you can’t begin to discern what information they’re looking for.

While your content initiatives’ target market may most likely be informed by that of your marketing as a whole, they’re not necessarily one and the same. Just as your company may use “TV commercials during sporting events” to target one subset of your market, you may find that content marketing speaks better to some of your buyers than others. Understanding the content your audience is looking for, and assessing your abilities to provide that, will inform you of not only WHO to target, but as you will soon see, WHAT to give them and WHERE to host it.

The more you already know about your buyers, the better. Additional insight can be gained not just through market research, but assessing the existing content landscape: what are your competitors doing that works, what independent news sources are popular on your topics, which authors are successful and why, and what are the overarching stories that resonate with those that are either looking to make a purchase or likely to influence others who may.

Determining Goals & Ownership Structures

Now that you know whom you’re writing for, it’s important to establish some goals for your content initiative. What exactly are you trying to achieve?

More specifically, how does content fit into your overall MarCom activities? Are you hoping to achieve thought leadership for your brand or executives? Do you wish to increase brand awareness? Or is lead generation your main concern?

The way your brand tells stories will be heavily influenced by this decision, so don’t take it lightly. In fact, this is an important first test for your newly formed Editorial Board. Once you’ve reached a decision, you can then establish ownership structures and hire or assign roles accordingly.

While smaller organizations may choose to assign content roles to existing marketing personnel, a company truly dedicated to brand journalism will look to hire either a Director of Content or Managing Editor to oversee their content efforts.

While both titles can in practice bear similar responsibilities, they represent different backgrounds for a potential hire. A Director of Content may come from a more traditional marketing background, and thus be intimately familiar with KPIs, acquisition costs, and budgeting processes. A Managing Editor, on the other hand, will most likely be a former journalist: well practiced in the art of crafting a story that connects with readers, editing other writers, and the art of writing an eye-grabbing headline.

Some organizations may even choose to hire both of these roles, with the Director of Content focusing more on the budgeting and technical implication of your content marketing, while the Managing Editor handles the day-to-day content production.

Now that you’ve decided who is in charge of content, and what your overarching goals are, you can set metrics to be achieved. Simple metrics like pageviews and social shares are easy to measure, but don’t necessarily reflect actual performance –after all a bunch of kids watching your YouTube videos doesn’t mean anyone is more likely to buy your products. More meaningful metrics like “share of voice” or “share of attention” get closer to understanding how much your content is improving your brand’s standing, but can be tricky to measure.

Oftentimes, a mix of metrics works best, with the head of your content reporting those on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to the VP of Marketing or CMO: however works best for your company’s marketing structure.

Establishing Your Niche & Voice

An Example from BBC's Guide

An Example from BBC’s Language Guide

Understanding your audience, as well as the goals of your content marketing campaign, goes a long way to helping you decide what sort of stories to cover.

The next step is to research exactly what sorts of stories are resonating with your audience. There are a number of ways to start this investigation: analyze the web traffic of different industry publications, track the social shares of your competitors’ content, do research with your existing buyers, or you could simply keep an eye on social media to see what people are talking about.

Now that you have a sense of what your audience wants, you need to assess your own ability to meet that need. Your company is going to have expertise in certain areas, less so in others. Are there writers internal to your organization that are natural fits for certain topics? Do you need to bring in contract writers for some stories, either on a one-off or ongoing basis?

Even more crucial is understanding what it is that is UNIQUE to your company that you can write about (and that your audience wants to hear) to differentiate yourself. Think about the problems your product solves and how your organization does that uniquely. Share learnings from your events and product launches that not only humanize your brand, but provide value to outsiders.

Once you’ve established the topics you’ll cover, it’s important you come up with a voice, tone, and style that will represent your brand. What are your company’s values? Are you a “serious business” or the playful underdog? Say you’re going to be writing mostly about technical specifications – are you better off keeping things dry and corporate, or would using more flowery language represent a way to differentiate your brand?

There’s no universally right answer; every company will find something else works best for them. But once you’ve decided on that, establish it firmly in a Style Guide, capturing not just the tone of your brand, but specifics like which words to use and which not to. This is something news organizations have been doing for decades, so use theirs as inspiration; here is a clever one from The Economist.

Building An Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is what separates smart content marketing from mere blogging. With a schedule of posts and their backed-out deadlines, you’ll be hitting the right topics at the right times, providing consistently interesting fodder that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Map the next quarter out, and then set to fill that three-month calendar in. How much content per week is your organization capable of creating at a sufficiently high quality level? Keep in mind that not only will some subjects take longer to address, but certain types of media – videos, infographics – will too.

If you’re struggling to understand when to schedule what, you can start with news events that have a known timeline. When is your next product release? Schedule a post around it. What events are you attending this quarter? Have some stories ready about those, followed up with videos from the event afterward.

Next, fill out your calendar with regularly scheduled long-form pieces that represent your thought leadership and expertise in the field. Suddenly your calendar is already looking pretty full; fill in the remaining space with trend pieces and reactions to industry happenings that will necessarily be more real-time. As your content organization continues to churn out stories and you get a better sense of what works, what doesn’t, and how long things take, you can adjust your schedules accordingly.

Setting Up A Workflow

workflowJust as your calendar says when which content will go live, your workflow is a calendar of all the sub-steps that go into making that piece of content come to life. After all, a fantastic whitepaper isn’t written, edited, and published in a single day (and if it is, we’d like a word with your author!)

The amount of time that goes into any one piece varies linearly with the length of the content, the complexity of the subject, and the diversity of the assets that need to accompany it.

A simple blog post can be written on day 1, edited on day 2, and go live by day 3. But even a blog post can grow into something more complex if you need to source an outside writer for it, verify facts, get graphics made for it, and then set up a content distribution plan for it once it’s gone live.

There are a number of great tools out there that not only ease this process, but keep everyone abreast of the status of any piece in production: Contently, Newscred, & Kapost to name a few. Different tools have different advantages, some let you source writers from their network, while others have pre-licensed content you can republish.

It’s important to keep in mind that a workflow doesn’t necessarily end once an asset has gone live. You need to distribute & promote it, monitor its success, and then repurpose successful content into additional formats.

Measuring And Making Use of Success

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 3.34.20 PMContent marketing doesn’t end once your story is out the door. You need to monitor the performance of your assets, learning from what works and what doesn’t, and making the most of your high-performance content.

Measuring success in content marketing is a topic open to constant debate, with the industry currently shifting from pageviews to time-on-page or time-on-site. At Appinions, we think “share of attention” is an even more important metric, as it captures the efficacy of your content programs as a whole. We’ll explore our thoughts behind this in a follow-up post; what’s important for now is that you have some benchmarks you’re using, so that you can confidently say Asset A outperformed Asset B.

Then, when you see that Asset A was a hit, you can prepare to make the most of it, improving your ROI and ensuring you don’t run out of content. For example, if this blog post does well, we will expand it into an eBook. The possibilities are endless – a single great story can be turned into a number of blog posts, a long-form eBook, a podcast or video, a behind the scenes or making of slideshare, and you can even present it live at an event. Then, each of those represents an opportunity for a landing page, a series of Tweets and updates, and some more fodder for your drip email campaigns. If you’re creative, the possibilities for content reuse are endless.

In fact, that speaks to the real power of content marketing: clever marketers will find that they are unbridled, and can express themselves and their brand in myriad smart ways that get people thinking about them. And when people are enjoying your content, and thinking about your brand, you’re taking back the buyer’s journey. Suddenly, you’re back in control; your marketing team looks smart; and it’s all thanks to content planning.

If you don’t already have a strategy for your content marketing initiatives, don’t fret. Sadly, only 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy; so let this be an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and codify what may have been your existing informal processes. While you’re working on that, check back shortly for a follow-up piece on some of the common pitfalls of content planning, and our thoughts on how Appinions for Content Marketing can improve even the best content plans.

Posted on October 24, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/24

We hope you had another fantastic week. Let’s end this Friday on a high note by looking at the best marketing articles from the past few days. These are generated using the Appinions platform, looking at the most influential opinions and articles, in a variety of marketing topics, from the past 7 days.

Leo Burnett Partners With The Huffington Post for a New Approach to Content Marketing – Emily Alford, Clickz

While most smart content marketers have acknowledged that clicks and pageviews are no longer a meaningful way to measure content success, few have really started to do anything about it. This article explores how HuffPo and Leo Burnett are working on content geared towards audience engagement, and their strategy behind it.

How Panda 4.1 Should Change Your Content Strategy – Jim Yu, Search Engine Land

As always, Google’s latest algorithm update has search marketers looking for answers. If you’re using content marketing as part of your SEO strategy, this is an important overview of Google’s most recent changes and how they affect you.

Stuck in a Content Marketing Rut? Try This Trick – Justin Lambert, The Content Strategist

If writing new blog posts is feeling like a chore, maybe it’s time to diversify the types of stories you cover. This article provides some quick hits on how to get started so that you and your readers start loving your content again.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Appinions: Adding Intelligence to Your Content Distribution

Distribution is the key to ensuring your content’s success. As we saw earlier this week, there are myriad options for pushing your content to readers, each with inherent strengths and weaknesses, and a range of pricing options that rise as you get more targeted.

Using highly targeted social media buy or placing native ads on a trade site explicitly geared towards your buyer personas runs into another problem: competition. Not only will your LinkedIn ad targeting “COOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees, in the healthcare sector” be incredibly expensive, it’ll most likely be appearing right next to your competitor’s similar content. Running a native ad in your industry’s trade site could be even more of an issue, as a competitor might not only be advertising there as well, they could even have an exclusivity agreement that’ll lock you out.

Fortunately, there’s a way to not only beat your competitors to the punch, but unlock sites you might not have known your target audience was visiting, and make use of that insight to secure favorable ad rates. With Appinions, you get an analytical look at the sites your target audience visits, and can match those publications to the perfect pieces of content.

Content Marketing for Juniper Networks

Let’s say for example that you’re Juniper Networks – a manufacturer of networking equipment. Your larger rival Cisco is widely known to be a content marketing leader, so you know you need to secure some smart placements for your own stories to catch up. Fortunately, this is easy to do with Appinions, as you can analyze the publishers discussing the “networking / industrial routers” space and see exactly where your audience’s eyeballs are.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.33.37 PM

Right away you can see that social networks are not a huge driver for this sector, so you can consider scratching that Twitter ad buy. But sites like TMC Net and BusinessWeek do perform well, so you should investigate working with those two. Some quick research shows that both those publishers offer a variety of sponsored content options, so you can start ensuring your content and brand gain visibility with the right audience quickly.

Taking things one step further, if Juniper really wanted to stick it to Cisco, they could do an analysis of just their brand, see where Cisco is getting placement (and Juniper is not) and go directly after those publications so that they start getting equal attention and consideration.

Understanding Impact & Tailoring Your Content for It

Another powerful feature of Appinions Source Analysis is the ability to distinguish volume from impact. At first glance, one medium may have a lot of people discussing your industry; but is that media-type actually influencing the conversation?

Using Motorola’s new 360 smart-watch as another example, we can see that while it has a big presence on social media – that channel is actually having an undersized impact on overall influence.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.44.47 PM

So if you’re Motorola, you now know that your content production & marketing efforts should be less focused on Twitter / Facebook and heavier on blogs and news.

You can even use this Sources feature to further hone your content production to match any given home for it. Clicking on any publisher brings you a list of the relevant articles they’ve published on your topic, so you can start writing related stories that will best resonate with that audience. You can also view that source’s influencer list, to see who else (site authors, competing brands, etc) is having an impact in your category. As part of the full Appinions suite, you can learn from those successes, monitor your competitors’ actions and respond as needed, reach out to influential journalists, and more. This will all further enhance your newly informed content distribution buys.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.50.18 PM

Increase Your Native Advertising Intelligence 

With insights like these, you can remove the guesswork from your content distribution. Not only will you know the exact right homes for your content, you can better tailor your messages to resonate with those audiences. Whereas content distribution was once a world of gut-feelings and escalating CPMs, you now have clear insight into where your content will have a perfect audience, and you can secure that placement before your competitors even have a clue.

So stop throwing away your content ad dollars, and schedule a chat with Appinions today.

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

A Focus on Content Marketing

Over the past nine months, we’ve been busy enhancing and expanding Appinions to make it more useful for marketers — particularly in ways that make it easier to plan, execute, and analyze content marketing programs. The result is a new version of the Appinions platform that remains a strategic tool for the CMO but also offers tactical (and practical) benefits for every content marketer.

The Data Inside

We’re not new to content marketing. Over the past few years we’ve worked with B2B focused Fortune 1000 CMOs on a range of marketing initiatives including helping them to launch, build, and measure some fairly large content marketing programs. The influence analysis at the core of our platform has provided content marketers an useful view into what leading voices were talking about, who could contribute or amplify media, and the impact that content efforts were having on the reputations of the brand and internal thought leaders.

But we came to realize that there was more value we could bring to the content marketing process by simply digging deeper into the data we have in Appinions’ back-end.

Our platform ingests and analyzes over 10 million documents every day, from news sources, blogs, and social media. Using natural language processing technology and other data science techniques we extract opinions, identify influencers, and score the impact each has on any client-defined topic. But beyond this there is a lot of amazing data and insights on the messages, authors, channels, trends, tactics, and results of corporate publishing and marketing that wasn’t being exposed via our interface.

So for the better part of this year we’ve been working on connecting and surfacing more of the rich data we process every day. The features are now available, and they’re enabling our content marketing clients to gain a deeper understanding of the most effective content in their markets, improve the way they plan and create new content, and perhaps most importantly track the broad impact that their publishing efforts are having on their brands. 

The Four Questions for Content Marketers

The data that Appinions now provides answers four important questions that content marketers often struggle with:

  1. What subjects and topics will attract the most active attention? There are hundreds of issues and dozens of angles you can take with every new blog post, white paper, or webinar. Choosing what to write about is a big investment of time and energy, and (in some cases) promotional dollars too.Appinions takes the guesswork out of content planning by providing multiple ways to get data-driven subject-matter recommendations every day. This allows you to consistently deliver content that the market is interested in and people will react to and re-share.
  2. Who should you partner with to maximize visibility and exposure? Building a reputation as a thought-leader, either as a brand or individual, takes both time and partnerships. The best brands use guest authors, do expert interviews, quote and comment on the thoughts of recognized influencers, and see to have their original work amplified by these highly connected people.Appinions gives you comprehensive influencer lists, lets you filter and sort them for your specific needs, and enables you to reach out directly to create mutually beneficial relationships.
  3. Where should you publish and promote for the greatest impact? Content publishers have impact across owned, earned, and paid channels and see both original materials and reactions occur on millions of different blogs, news publications, and social media accounts. Choosing distribution targets is difficult, as-is knowing where your promotional dollars will be most effective.Appinions shows you exactly which channels are getting attention and which specific publications are delivering reactions for the specific topics you’re covering. This makes it easy to ensure results from your distribution efforts and native advertising budget.
  4. How effective are your efforts in attracting meaningful attention? The biggest challenge most content marketers face is demonstrating the impact their work has on the organization.Appinions tracks the overall results from your content marketing efforts in a number of important ways. Your influence score within your market records the increasing awareness and quantity/quality of reactions received by all the different content you’re producing. And your ‘share of attention’ changes within your marketplace (or versus your competitors) and let you track that over time. Both are broad measures of results and for the first time provide a clear way to communicate the impact of your content marketing efforts.

A Unique Solution for Content Marketers

For most content publishers, having a reliable source of daily answers to these questions is a game changer. Each removes a lot of guesswork from the existing process, allowing informed decisions to be made quickly. Saving time, adding clarity, and measuring results is a powerful trio of benefits.

We’re able to do this because of the unique data platform on which Appinions is built. Based on over a decade of research at Cornell University, we’re not counting mentions or shares to determine what’s important or who’s influential. Rather, our patented technology and proprietary algorithms are measuring what you might call Active Attention – the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of people which are then weighted by who held them and where they were shared. And each client is able to define any number of custom topics for which they want to access this information.

We’re excited to bring our newly expanded range of features for content marketers to a broader audience of users. Based on our own use of the tool, and the success our clients have experienced, we’re confident that any serious content process will be dramatically improved through the use of Appinions for Content Marketing.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 1.19.01 PM
Posted on October 15, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Content Distribution – A Crash Course for Content Marketers

When it comes to content marketing, creating great stories can be a struggle. So once you’ve actually produced something worth showing your audience, it would be a tragedy, both in terms of ROI and your own writing merit, if nobody read it.

That’s why content marketing pros have turned to content distribution networks to make sure their best pieces get the exposure they deserve. Within this sector, we can group your options into 3 main categories: social media advertising, content recommendation engines, and native advertising.

In this article we’ll take a look at the capabilities of each method, some of the leading providers, pricing, and their various pros and cons. And for content experts that already know all these options, you’ll be excited to hear that our follow-up post will have some never before seen insight into how to pick the exact best home for your brand’s content.

Social Media Advertising Facebook Ad

While the world is rife with niche social networks targeting different groups and interests, only three have the real scale to make them meaningful advertising networks, especially for a B2B company: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (Sorry Ello!)

Facebook offers you two main options – either a more traditional ad block on the right hand side bar, or one that’s a better fit for content: the news feed. The cost per click tends to hover around $.50 to $.80, and while they offer a great deal of targeting options, the best content for Facebook tends to be on the more poppy, less serious side.

Next you have Twitter, which is great for content marketers as the service is inherently driven around news sharing. You may be constrained by 140 characters, but your sponsored tweet will perform well if it seems like an important update from your company. CPC ranges from $.40 to $.50.

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn can be an amazing resource, as you can target an amazing variety of relevant criteria: business type, employee count, position, etc. All that power comes with a heavy price though, as CPC is an order of magnitude higher, around $4 or $5 (that’s right, not 40 or 50 cents.)

Content Recommendation Engines

You may not have noticed it, but just about every major publisher now makes use of a content recommendation engine. They usually appear as a widget at the bottom or side of an article, promoting a mix of other stories by the publisher, as well as related stories off-site. While there are a number of different providers, they all look about the same, very lightly demarked from the rest of the site’s content, with a tiny disclaimer along the words of “Sponsored Links” or “Promoted Content.”

Recommended Content

You have a large number of options for this type of ad unit. Taboola and Outbrain are the “granddaddies” of the space, but the list goes on: nrelate, Disqus, Gravity, Zemanta, and more. For better or worse, each of these providers offers rather undifferentiated products. Their clicks are cheap (CPCs are usually around $.25 to $.30) but your targeting options are quite limited, and you may find it hard to get your whitepaper to compete with the click-bait, celebrity / photo driven stories that make up most of the inventory. That said, if you have a blog post that’s on the lighter side, this could be a good way to drive traffic to it economically.

Native AdvertisingNativo

For a brand publisher, native advertising is the Holy Grail – it gets the entirety of your story in front of premier eyeballs, and adds the brand halo of whichever publisher you’re partnering with. While many media-watcher and journalists wring their hands about this format, almost all major publishers have now embraced it as a new revenue stream. Fortunately, standards seem to be emerging that are erring on the side of making it especially clear to viewers that a piece of native advertising is sponsored, and not an organic piece of content from the publisher.

As most major news sites now offer a native ad option, the big question comes down to finding the perfect home for your content. Pricing can range wildly depending on the “quality” of the site and the sort of traffic it gets, with marketing focused sites like Digiday going for around $5,000 per story, while a marquee source like The New York Times can require a six digit commitment.

While this may sound like both an expensive outlay and a time-consuming contracting process, there is now another interesting provider to add to the mix: Nativo. Nativo works with 250+ mid-sized publishers like Entrepreneur and Motortrend, providing advertisers the ability to run native ads / sponsored content in multiple properties with minimal work. The ads run on the publisher’s site, and fit the formatting of each publisher. Content marketers have the tremendous ability to pick sites that will work best for their content, while also minimizing their spend (Nativo charges by a viewable CPM in the $8 to $20 range.)

Choosing The Right Home for Your Content

Now that you have a lay of the content distribution landscape, you can consider the right home for your brand’s content. If you’re just going for cheap eyeballs, a content recommendation engine may be your initial option. Or if you want to get highly targeted, you could build a customized Facebook or Twitter audience; but once you really start tuning your targeting, you’ll find that the price keeps rising and rising.

Unfortunately, even with the most expensive social media targeting, you are still more or less going after your “best guess” of what’s going to fit your brand’s target audience. What if you could know exactly what your buyers were looking for, and what sites they were using to find that information? With Appinions, you can unlock that exact insight, and beat your competitors in the race to your buyers’ eyeballs, all while keeping CPMs low. In our follow-up article later this week, we’ll show you how to do exactly that.

Sign up for our blog newsletter to get the next article as soon as it’s published, as well as other insights into how to maximize your content marketing.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Posted on October 10, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/10

Another great week is coming to an end. Let’s take a look at some of the best marketing thoughts from the last 7 days.

What Content Goes Hot On Google+? – Paula Allen,

BuzzFeed’s founder Jonah Peretti said some not-so-kind things about Google+ at SMX East. Now, Paula Allen rebuts with some thoughtful ideas on how to make content work on that most elusive of social networks.

3 Content Marketing Best Practices that Small Business Should Ignore – Elisa Gabbert, Search Engine Journal

Not all advice is good advice, especially if you’re trying to apply something that works for big business down to the SMB level. This piece thoughtfully dispatches with some content marketing ideas that might not work for everyone.

Is There Room for Comedy in B2B? – Tyler Perry, VentureBeat

This Tyler Perry might not be the famous comedian, but he has some witty insight on how B2B businesses can spice up their messages while not alienating customers.

Opinion-sifter Appinions Renovates Its Platform to Better Watch What You Say – Barry Levine, VentureBeat

We’ve made a number of exciting improvements to the Appinions platform. Barry Levine takes them for a spin, and lays out how they can help improve your content marketing efforts.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on October 3, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/3

It’s been a while since we’ve had a great rundown of some interesting posts for marketers, so let’s mix things up this week. Instead of covering all of marketing, let’s just take a look at what happened in the world of content marketing.

New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy – Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

CMI’s latest yearly installment is out, and as always they do a great job chronicling what’s happened in the whole wide world of content marketing. One of the biggest findings is that marketers are still struggling to document their strategies to define success.

Marriott Launches Global Creative and Content Marketing Studio – Michelle Castillo, AdWeek

Another great brand joins the content marketing bandwagon. Marriott’s got some exciting content ideas in store, so take a look at some of the cool things to expect from them.

“Content Performance Marketing” – 3 Steps to Future Success – Jim Yu, Search Engine Watch

This is a great piece for content marketers taking their stories to the next level. Jim artfully explains how to go from simply making great content to demanding results of it.

Content Discovery – Distinguishing Signal from the Noise – Jonah Bliss, Appinions

In case you missed our blog post this week, we break down how to best use Appinions to find great content to share with your audience.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on September 30, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Content Discovery – Distinguishing Signal from the Noise

The current state of content is sort of like the Rime of the Ancient Marinerwater, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink – we’re drowning in a sea of content, and yet finding stories that are actually good and compelling can be a never-ending chore.

That said, finding great content is more important than ever. Your social media and content channels require a constant drip of great information to keep your audience informed, entertained, and engaged. Whether you’re resharing great stories by people friendly to your brand or merely looking for good topics to add your own take on, it’s incredibly vital to have a fresh stream of great content.

Yesterday’s Approach – Many Sources, Lots of Headaches

Look Familiar?

Look Familiar?

If you’re like many marketers struggling to keep up with content, you use an amazing array of sources to see what’s new. You have a Hootsuite search for all your preferred industry hashtags. You get Google Alerts on your brand keywords. Your inbox is overflowing with industry newsletters and your RSS reader has a queue of 1,000 unread articles. But as soon as you start digging into any one of these sources, you’re overwhelmed by junk.

Your first instinct is to blame authors and social media users for this noisy mess, but it actually comes down to an issue with the tools you’re using. These programs are great at many things, but prioritizing what’s meaningful to you on a given theme is not one of them. They’re not thinking and filtering, they’re merely showing you everything, with today’s latest junk showing up ahead of yesterday’s rubbish.

Content Discovery with Appinions

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 5.35.26 PM

At Appinions, we’ve created a way to see exactly which topics and articles are resonating with your audience and market. Our patented natural language processing algorithms identify only the content that matches your custom-defined topic, and then ranks and prioritizes it before giving you four different ways to browse fresh content every day:

  • By Influence: Want the good stuff quickly? One click gives you a prioritized list of the 100 most influential articles and post for your custom topic over in the last 24-hours, 7-days, or 30 days.
  • By Influencer: Like to see what the market leaders are saying? Appinions ranks the most influential people and organizations in your market space and generates a stream of content from or about each of them.
  • By Theme: Get yourself in on the hottest conversations. Simply browse the list of themes, hashtags, and mentions that have received the most influential reactions, and click to see the full stream of content driving any of them.
  • By Source: Find out exactly how key publications are talking about your market. View up to 80 active publishers who have delivered content from or about the top influencers and click through to summaries or full-text articles.

All of a sudden, content discovery isn’t a manual, super time-consuming process. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that you’ll see the best content, Appinions automatically prioritizes those top stories and delivers them to the top of your stream.

Appinions in Action – Big Data

Let’s take a look at how this might look if you are a firm operating in a very hot space – big data. With a lot of players and a lot of promotion, you need to source the very best content to stand out from the crowd.

If you want a quick-win right away, you can take a look at the Most Influential Opinions section, where the top thoughts from the best articles immediately bubble to the head.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 5.55.00 PM

You may also have certain thought leaders you want to catch up with, either based on the top influencers identified by our software, or your own choices built into a watch list.

Nick Heudecker, an analyst, is the second most influential person on Big Data. Without Appinions, checking up on his latest thoughts means searching for a dizzying array of sources – his Twitter and Google Plus, any blogs or websites he owns, and even then you’ll still miss anything he may have published in a newspaper. Appinions puts this all in front of your fingers, on one easy screen.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 6.00.04 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 6.01.49 PMBetter yet, let’s see exactly what the entire Big Data market is talking about, so we can figure out what sort of stories we need to create to engage an audience of potential buyers.

On the Themes section, we see a number of concepts being discussed, some obvious but some that you might not have thought of. Diving into one of the more interesting option – Wearable Technology – we can see both the top opinions being said, and the individual authors / influencers discussing it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 6.02.56 PM

Another great option is viewing by Source. So, if you have a preferred publication, you can see their best, most relevant posts, without having to filter through the rest of their unrelated updates. Experienced content marketers will find this option even more helpful, as it can be informative when buying native ad units. Now you’ll know which site is the best fit for your sponsored content.

The More You Know

Having all this information at the tip of your fingers is incredibly useful. Not only do you save tremendous amounts of time and energy, you no longer have to rely on serendipity to find the best content, or see new trends emerging. Instead, you get the latest and greatest information, from all sources, in one place. You can smartly inform your content strategies, beat competitors to owning new trends, and keep tabs on everyone you care about. All of a sudden, you’ve taken the guesswork out of content!

Want to see how Appinions can do this for your brand? Schedule a chat with us today.

Posted on September 19, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Social Media Had The Ayes, But Scotland Went To The Nos

Now that the results are in – we can see that after a historic vote, Scotland has decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom. This presents us a unique opportunity to analyze this contentious debate, and deduce which factors influenced voters and pundits for each side.

The “Yes” campaign made an impressive late push on social media, but our Appinions data showed that this was not enough to overtake the “No” advocates, who did a compelling job of securing influential endorsements from major newspapers and respected third parties.

The Appinions platform gathers data from news, blogs, and social media sources, identifies opinions and reactions, and then uses a proprietary algorithm to score and rank the opinion holders. On the topic of Scottish Independence, the ‘No’ voices were overall more influential and earned higher scores.

News Versus Social – Different Formats, Different Impact

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.37.32 PM

More than any topic we’ve seen before, our data is showing a huge disparity in the volume versus the impact of various data sources: social media is contributing a huge 71.2% percent of all influential opinions, but its impact on the results is just 29%. Opinions coming from traditional news sources are driving a mere 16% of the volume but are having an outsized 59.6% impact on results. In other words, an opinion in the news is over nine times (9X) more valuable than one in social media.

This isn’t always the case. In fact, this type of disparity between volume and impact is extremely rare. It’s happening because the heavy hitters – editorial boards, leading politicians, and major corporations like the Royal Bank of Scotland – are voicing their opinions via the news outlets and individuals without a lot of historical influence are driving the views on social channels like Twitter and Facebook. Obviously major publications always have ‘bigger name’ writers than your average social media post, but the relative weightings we’re seeing here for the channels overall are 2X more dramatic than what we see in other large social issues with a high volume of social traffic.

There have been many issues over the past few years where the ‘voice of the people’ enabled by social media has swayed opinion and even public policy – but in this case it appears that the concerted efforts of the major newspapers were able to overwhelm the thousands of “little people” on social media.

News Says ‘No’

The big push by the newspapers paid dividends for the “No” campaign. The majority of the UK and Scotland’s respected papers have come out on the side of “No” – Scotland’s Sunday Post, as well as the Daily Mail, the Guardian, and more. While newspapers may not have the monopoly on information they once did, in this case their voices carried.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 3.00.31 PM

Paul Krugman’s Influence on Scottish Independence

Additionally, many respected economists weighed in, again mostly on the side of “No.” A think-piece by Paul Krugman was especially influential, placing him on the top 10 list at the time of publication.

Many have framed this issue as a toss up between Scotland’s head and heart (for the “No” and “Yes” votes respectively) and thus few respected thinkers, outside of the Scottish political parties that would gain power from independence, have voiced their favor for independence. The only major exception to the rule is the Herald Scotland, but by voicing their editorial opinion months ago back in May, they diminished their influence as newer thinkers overtook them in the debate.

Social Media Votes ‘Yes’

Conversely, the pro-independence campaign managed to win the hearts of social media, with their primary @YesScotland account having more than double the followers of @UK_Together – the primary voice of those against the referendum.

But who are the people tweeting and retweeting on behalf of Yes? It appears that an issue this dear to them caused almost anyone with an inclination towards disunion to voice their thoughts on Twitter, meaning that the vast majority of said opinion holders are not very influential. A perusal through our tweet archive showed the bulk of those tweeting for ‘Yes’ have few Twitter followers and a sparse history of status updates. While those facts do not weigh in our scoring, a lack of recurring ability to generate reactions does – and it’s rare for people with small audiences to incite reactions over time.

In this case, social media won the volume game, but not the influence game. It doesn’t have to be this way. In other cases – the recent shooting in Ferguson, MO for example – social media drove both the volume and the influence. There was something keenly different about this discussion, and the Appinions platform correctly measured where the influence was concentrated and having an impact.

For more details on our measurement of the vote for Scottish Independence, and a number of other social and technology topics, visit our new Data Journalism site.

Older Posts