top of mind marketing_8 big blogging mistakes

8 Big Blogging Mistakes You May Be Making

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Blogging is tough. Like a potato chip, you can’t do one. One means that you tried blogging and gave up. It was too hard. It makes you look like a quitter. If you can’t sustain a blog, don’t start. I blog every week, then post the blog along with an image to my website, Linkedin page, Blogger and 4 social media sites. It’s a commitment, but if you make it a habit, you can do it.

Your blog becomes the workhorse of your content marketing program

Quality blogs will drive your whole content marketing program. Not only will you be providing fresh content to your website, increasing your SEO value, but you can repurpose that content to your newsletter and use extracts on social media. A blog is a workhorse. Set aside time to work on your blog and own it.

Here are 8 blogging mistakes—reasons why so many people fail.

  1. Setting an unrealistic publishing schedule. There are actually people who promise themselves they’re going to blog 3-4x/week or more. Forget it—this is a recipe for failure. If you can do one blog/week, you’re doing really well. Cut yourself some slack and try two blogs/month. You’ll soon find this is an aggressive goal.
  2. Not using headers to break up text. This one kills me. When I see a big 6-inch block of text on my computer screen, there’s no way I’m going to tackle this. It’s a fortress. Break it up into manageable bites. Use subheads that guide the reader through the copy. Use bullet points to further delineate key points. Seduce your reader.
  3. Using “Click Here“ in links instead of real keywords. The days of “check out our new website” and “click here” are over. Audiences have gotten a lot more sophisticated, and by using your keywords and inserting a link instead, you’re getting a lot more SEO bang for your buck.
  4. Not Answering Your Comments. When someone takes the time to comment, you owe him/her a response. Remember that you’re doing this to build relationships.
  5. Not Using Images. Big mistake. You may be an inspired writer, but the stats tell us that the average visitor will read just 20% of your content. The use of really good images that are relevant to your topic not only enhance your blog but draw in your audience. An estimated 67% of users say that images are more important than descriptions when making a purchase—and the whole purpose of your blogging is to grow your audience and get new clients, right?
  6. Not Adding Social Media Sharing Options. I see this all the time. Time to integrate your messaging across all of your marketing channels. Make sure your website, social media sites, newsletter, business card and any other print collateral are all branded, integrated and connected. We’re looking for consistency of messaging.
  7. Not Using Analytics. Do you know which posts your readers liked best? Do you understand how people are finding your information—what sites they’re coming from and if they’re clicking through your site? If you haven’t installed Google Analytics on your site, do it. Start using this to see what kinds of posts are getting the most attention. (Your comments will also be an indicator.) If you find that you’re getting a lot of response to one topic, you may—or may not—want to write more blogs on that topic and really promote them. Build a niche.
  8. Not Showing Recent/Popular Posts. New visitors are often curious, so give them something to look at! If you’re clever about displaying your blogs, they’ll stick around to see what else you’re writing about. If there are places on your site to call attention to your blogs, by all means leverage them, such as a homepage banner with a title and a link to the blog. Many of the new website designs have tiles and other callout areas where you can post an image along with a message and a link—these are great places to showcase your blogs. On my site’s blogpage, in the righthand column there is also a list of my last eight blogs with their links.

Are you struggling with your blog or your whole content marketing program? We’d love to help you! Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

 

Top of mind marketing updated its site by applying a new wordpress theme, updating content and images

New WordPress Theme Streamlines Website Makeover

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Websites have a shelf life. I’ve been busy with other people’s sites and neglected my own—pretty common for people in my industry. It had been four years, and while my site was built in responsive design, ensuring it would adapt across all devices, and I’d updated the content and consistently posted my weekly blogpost, the overall design was dated and stale.

Applying a new WordPress theme to the old site streamlined my project

For my site, rather than starting from scratch and building an entirely new site, I engineered a makeover–a facelift of my old site, which dramatically streamlined the project. The site was in WordPress, which has more than 2,000 themes, or templates. We identified a new theme that was modern but not too trendy, and applied it to my existing site. This was a fairly seamless process, requiring only some minor tweaking and a little customization. This was infinitely easier than starting from scratch with a new WordPress theme and building a new website.

New landing pages and images

I added three new landing pages under the Services tab and identified vibrant new images for every page, which went a long way toward upgrading the site’s visual impact. I also gave my logo a little refresh. We ported over all of my blogs—more than 250, believe it or not—and these required very little adjustment.

Areas for messaging or to showcase what’s going on in your company

One great feature of many of the new site designs is the areas for messaging or calls to action. My site design includes four tiles across the bottom where we can upload an image and a brief sentence—these are great for calling attention to events, new products, new blogposts, etc. Since I want to call attention to my 250+ blogs (!), I’ve added an image, a sentence and a link to four blogs. On the homepage, there’s also a banner that I can swap out, which I will likely also use to showcase a blog.

The result: For all intents and purposes, a new website

A new look and feel. Updated content. High-quality images. Today’s sites are simpler, there’s less drilldown and menus have collapsed. Today’s new website designs are slicker with more opportunities for messaging and calls to action. I’m delighted with the visual impact and the new functionality of my new website.

Is your WordPress website dated, no longer reflective of the company you are today? Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing today to talk about a makeover! We’re internet marketing specialists.

Tired of Fake News? Facebook’s Disputed News Tag Goes Live

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Unless you’ve just crawled out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that there’s a bit of a controversy going on with the news these days—especially the news that’s coming out of the White House. We’re accustomed to never quite trusting our politicians, and while we’d like to have faith that our journalists are entirely objective, the times clearly have changed. The days of Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, are over. People these days are getting their news from the internet, and they assume that because they read it, it’s true. But scan the morning news, from Breitbart to the venerable New York Times, and you’ll begin to see that the “news” varies dramatically, depending on who’s writing the headlines.

Facebook creates a disputed fact tag for alternative facts posts

As our journalists report on the news coming out of the new Trump administration, the White House counters the facts with what they call “alternative facts”. What? There are no alternative facts. If we do our due diligence, we find that the White House is just plain lying. Again. We’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s lowering the bar on truth and integrity.

Facebook responds to alternative facts

Facebook has decided that, as a public application that reaches more than 1.86 billion monthly active users, they have both influence and a responsibility, so they have created a new Disputed tag that will appear beneath news stories on the site that have been deemed inaccurate.

  • Facebook has added a new Help page outlining how the system works.
  • Stories flagged as fake by users will be reviewed by independent fact-checking organizations, including Politifact and Snopes.com.
  • Those organizations will be signatories to a “Fact-checkers’ Code of Principles”maintained by the journalism nonprofit Poynter Institute. The principles include nonpartisanship and transparency in sourcing and funding.

Disputed posts and rankings

There’s no indication yet whether the Disputed designation will have a direct impact on how a story is handled by Facebook’s ranking algorithms. The thinking is that users will be less likely to share stories that have received the Disputed tag, reducing their likelihood of being spread.

A dependency, of course, is that the flagging process itself can take several days, which is plenty of time for a story to get plenty of attention. We all know that a story that is topical and sexy, accompanied by an attention-grabbing image, can go viral within a few hours. The internet and social media have made global communication immediate. One big dependency of the Disputed tag is its due diligence: it takes time to research the verity of a fact.

What does Facebook have to gain?

There’s another imperfection of this system that will likely satisfy nobody. Despite huge public pressure to tackle fake news, particularly from the political left, Facebook has no real motivation to tell its readers what to believe.

Potential for reduced user engagement

From a business perspective, filtering or flagging disputed news stories could reduce user engagement among those who had previously enjoyed a steady diet of alternative facts. The move has already invited scathing criticism from the right, potentially actively alienating a huge swathe of Facebook users who apparently feed on the fake news coming out of the White House.

A final thought: It’s an initial effort by a medium that reaches billions of users/month. While it may or may not be effective or completely successful, it may set the stage for other social media applications to look for ways to censor the rise of alternative facts. I believe that truth and trust are still essential to building good relationships.

Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Bill Ryan is a mobile notary and has just launched his new website, UpValley Notary on the Go

Case Study: A New Website for Bill Ryan

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Bill Ryan lives in St. Helena, and like many people in the area, he came to the Napa Valley to work in the wine industry. Bill relocated from Rhode Island some 40 years ago, when there were fewer than 20 wineries, compared to more than 400 today. As the sales and marketing director for Beringer Winery, he helped grow the premium wine’s international footprint for more than 20 years.

As a mobile notary, he needed a web presence

Bill’s retired now, but he’s always busy. He fishes whenever he can and writes a fishing weekly column for the Napa Valley Register and another for St. Helena Star. He also has a little mobile notary business serving the towns of the Napa Valley—St. Helena, Angwin, Napa, Calistoga and Yountville. He’s not interested in being swamped, but he enjoys growing his business, interacting with his clients and meeting new people. Bill wanted a simple website—nothing elaborate–what can you say about meeting someone at his/her home or office to sign documents, after all? But if you’re in business these days, you need a web presence.

We discussed a few options and decided on Gutensite

I’ve build a couple of websites in this platform before, and was delighted with the results. The technology is responsive design and looks great across devices. It’s modular; the pages, such as blogs and testimonials, are autoformatted so they turn out looking polished and professional. I’ve tried using the so-called DIY, WISYWIG platforms like Wix and SquareSpace—they’re supposed to be easy and foolproof. I’m fairly savvy–I’ve worked in WordPress for years, but I think these applications are confusing, and I would never tackle a WordPress site on my own. Gutensite is very easy to use, and here’s the really great part: they have a responsive, courteous technical-support team who’s there for you to work through the small details that would completely sabotage you in other applications. Best of all, for a simple website, Gutensite’s price is hard to beat: $15/month, including hosting.

Gutensite doesn’t have WordPress’ 2,000+ themes . . .

The number of themes is limited, but if you look carefully, you will realize that each design is different enough to distinguish itself, providing significant options. By adding your own images, logo and text, you are going a long way towards customizing your theme. For those who need more functionality, Gutensite has more robust packages and also provides customized solutions.

For Bill’s site, we decided on just four landing pages

Home, About Bill, What to Expect from a Notary and Contact. I tried to sneak in a couple of modules at the bottom that would provide extra calls to action, but Bill wasn’t interested. He wanted to keep this simple, with just the relevant information. We purchased the domain name from GoDaddy, UpValleyNotaryontheGo.com and I easily managed the domain name transfer myself. I filled out fields for keywords and metadescriptions, made a few last-minute adjustments, uploaded Bill’s new headshot and we were live.

I literally created this site in a matter of hours. It helped that I had used Gutensite before, and I ran into a few issues where I had to reach out to tech support, but the process was seamless. Best of all, Bill now has a terrific new website.

Next up: I’m creating another Gutensite website for a retired banker who is a woodworker. He builds stunning customized tables for his clients. In addition to writing content and building the site, I’m going to manage a photoshoot to get professional images of his work that will flesh out the gallery section of his website. I can’t wait to get started.

Are you interested in a new Gutensite website? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing–we’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Two Bellman Two is part of Marriott's wildly successful long-term video strategy

Rethinking Content Delivery: Big Brands Embrace Video

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Video’s snagged a place in the Top 5 Trends for 2016

Take a look at any of the experts’ Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2016 and video has snagged a place in the top five. Sure, we all know we should be doing video—it’s great for SEO, it’s fun, engaging, informative and for certain demographics, this is the preferred way to receive information. But let’s be realistic. Good videos are expensive; they require scripts, perhaps a narrator, background music and professional videographers to create a polished product. And once you’re finished, it’s time for another one, and it takes time and money to keep producing high-quality products. You think they cost too much and have limited reach. Let’s take a look at a video that Marriott produced that’s been wildly successful.

Marriott’s 19-minute video: more than 8M YouTube views

Marriott released the follow-up to its Two Bellmen original short film earlier this year, with the sequel approaching 8M views on YouTube — more than the number of viewers who tuned in to see CBS’ premiere of Man with a Plan. This 19-minute action comedy, Two Bellmen Two, built its viewership over a period of months as consumers shared the content with friends via social media. This is important because it’s the result of consumers increasingly shifting their viewing habits from TV to smartphones and laptops. Savvy brands are creating content that makes an emotional connection with viewers andgets them in front of impressive numbers of potential new customers — in some cases, more than they could with a traditional TV ad.

“ If you deliver something that is valuable and they want to watch, they will actually engage,” said David Beebe, VP of creative and content marketing at Marriott International.

 Content production moves in-house as big brands build studios

This shift in the traditional content creation/delivery model was the topic of a panel discussion at the ad: tech conference in New York in December that featured executives from Marriott International and Charles Schwab. These two big brands are building in-house content studios to produce the kinds of content that today’s new consumers want. Make that millennials. They’re shifting away from TV to embrace a variety of digital content formats.

Demand for video is growing

As consumers look for compelling online content they can share with friends, the demand for video is growing. Brands need content that transcends traditional advertising, and this can be difficult for agencies to grasp. Two Bellmen was first launched in early 2015 and has received more than 5M YouTube views. A sequel came out in early 2016 and a third installment has debuted. Marriott’s efforts have proven successful enough that it is now licensing some of its content, turning its marketing into a revenue source. They’ve developed travel documentaries, webisodes, VR experiences and influencer-driven videos.

You have to be able to take risks; legacy attitudes can stand in the way

For marketers looking to jump into this kind of quality content, one of the biggest hurdles can be resistance from executives who are reluctant to make a significant investment when they don’t see a direct link to a sale. Legacy attitudes can hold companies back, so they must be able to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Charles Schwab, long recognized for clever advertising that reaches consumers on a personal level, created a small team three years ago that is focused on telling brand stories that connect with people. Previously, most of the content was focused primarily on traditional selling of products and services.

Today’s marketing is about telling stories

As brands increasingly become content creators, they need to consider new metrics that keep pace as they open the door to new relationships. At Charles Schwab, the content team demonstrated that the videos it created acquired new customers and drove existing ones to sign up for additional products. Brands embarking on a content strategy need to ensure that they continue to engage with their audience.

Are you trying to develop a results-oriented marketing strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.  

top of mind marketing back to basics for web trends 2017

Web Trends 2017: Back to the Basics

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I recently worked on a website for a construction company; one member of our team kept suggesting things to make the site “pop”. I, on the other hand, was looking for great navigation and classic design that would endure, lots of white space that would serve as a backdrop for well-written content and project pictures. I wanted our work to capture audience attention, not gimmicks.

It’s been an evolution

We’ve spent years adding stuff to our websites—frames, sidebars, headers, banner ads, sidebar ads, calls to action, comments, popups, social media buttons, signup boxes, etc. Now we’re taking them off–all of the elements that cluttered up our websites, detracting from the primary message, which is the content.

Back to the basics in 2017

In 2017, websites will start moving back to basics, placing more emphasis on content. Keep in mind that a big driver for many of these changes is mobile users who increasingly rely on their phones to transact business and access information. To accommodate these users, sites have had to simplify—a growing trend over the last few years. Mobile use has had a significant impact on navigation, color palettes, typography and the way we deploy images and other assets.

Geometrics

It seems as though the use of geometric shapes, lines, and patterns have really taken off in the late part of 2016, and this is expected to continue through 2017. The use of circles around images, photos that are geometric heavy, or the overall design of the site relies heavily on the use of lines and patterns.

Creative headings

We’re starting to move away from the basic, boring heading style seen on websites (san serif, all caps, centered heading) and moving more toward imaginative or creative headings. Look for a change in the layout, justification or websites without a heading at all.

Animations and gifs

Animations are starting to be used more heavily on websites as they easily communicate how things work and are more lightweight than several images or even a video, which is good news for mobile users—animations generally load quickly.

Putting navigation on a diet

More people are now accessing the web on their phones than their computers, which has had a significant impact on navigation. Drilling down through complicated schematics on a phone is a complete turnoff; it’s much easier to scroll through pages than click and wait. Restricting the main navigation bar to four to five items is becoming the norm and it’s challenging organizations to think critically and strategically about how they organize information.

More emphasis on landing pages, less on a home page

In 2017 we will likely see a rise in landing page designs—not just home page design. While you still need a home page, as content marketing spreads, marketers will want to direct traffic to dedicated landing pages to better target their visitors and their needs. It makes sense: The idea of content marketing is to increase awareness and conversions, and what better way to increase conversions than to have visitors land on a page strictly made for them. These pages will be as well designed and thought out as others on the site, but target the visitor much more.

Are you thinking about a new website for 2017? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. Building online brands.

Double Your Page Views By Using Great Images

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You may be a great writer, but content without images will produce disappointing results. We’re drawn to content that contains rich, attractive graphics. Adding images to an article can nearly double its views, and 67% of users say that images are more important than descriptions when making a purchase.

Increase website traffic by more than 60% by using good images

Thoughtful image selection

Just adding an image is not enough. It needs to be relevant, visually appealing and appropriate for your audience.

  • Does it convey your message? It should contribute to the overall meaning of the article. Click-bait companies may have some success using an unrelated image for their web ads, but you should be in it for the long-haul–these strategies don’t work.
  • Does it fit your brand? Images should tell a story about your company’s brand—your integrity, customer service and industry expertise.
  • Is it engaging? Drab, boring images don’t engage you and they won’t engage your readers. I write a regular blog for a legal company, and we used to use uninspiring images of legal documents—trusts, deeds, etc. When we thought this through and realized that we were all about creating peace of mind or improving lives for the people behind these documents, we began posting pictures of happy families and couples taking care of each other and we experienced a huge boost in views.

How many images should you use?

There no magic number, but you can use more than you might think. Including good images:

  • Breaks up the text for improved readability.
  • Can increase your SEO value.
  • Provides more options for social media shares and engagement.

Each image should serve a purpose

Think about screenshots, for instance that will illustrate a new website or function. Images break up a page and make it more accessible. Use two or three images, but be aware of load times—if a page takes more than three seconds to load, you could lose 40% of your readers. Remember that more than 60% of users are pulling up information on their phones.

Size matters

If you’re downloading images from your phone or stockphoto sites, reduce the size of those beasty files. For websites and social media, I see that 800 x 1,000 pixels is a recommended size. For social media, I generally reduce the size of my images to 650-750 pixels. In some cases, you may want to use a series of thumbnail images, which can be effective. These can be 125-250 pixels, and they should all be the same size with the text wrapped around them.

Naming images and assigning them descriptive alt tags will help boost your SEO value

Don’t forget to label your images and add alt tags–a description of the image

Best practices: Don’t forget to name your images

If you download your images, they’ll have a number. Don’t just upload them to social media or your website with these numbers–rename them. Think about the topic of the article and what people would be keying into a search engine to find this information, then name the images accordingly. If your article’s about images, use a name such as using alt tags or sizing images for websites.

Missed SEO value of images

Do think about images and their ability to increase your SEO value. When you upload images to your website, you’ll see a field to identify an alt tag for each image. This should be a description that makes sense to the reader—it’s a summary of the image. If you’re adding an alt tag to a graph, make it a summary of the data. If I’m adding a screenshot of my new website, the alt tag would be something like Top of Mind Marketing’s new website has enhanced visuals, streamlined navigation and more than 250 blogs.  

Great images won’t save bad content

But thoughtful, quality images can increase traffic, improve engagement, increase conversions, and improve the overall experience for your audience.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Super Bowl Ads: An Emerging Social Conscience

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Another Super Bowl, and naturally, my team lost. After a miserable first half, the mighty Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback of all time, finally emerged from Sleepy Hollow and led his team into an overtime win. Atlanta had a fairytale year, a terrific MVP quarterback and a Hall of Fame receiver, but they collapsed.

top of mind marketing_terry bradshaw

We all know that the Super Bowl is only partly about football

It’s also about eating and drinking, a day for partying with your friends. And for brands and anyone who’s interested in marketing, it’s about the advertisers who drop millions of dollars for a chance to get in front of one of the biggest TV audience of the year.

Super Bowl ads are an effort to reach Americans on a fundamental, emotional level

They remind us that football is an American sport and this is our big tradition. We may love our craft beer, but we look forward to those Budweiser ads that break our hearts year after year—those magnificent Clydesdales, the puppies, the young servicemen and women coming home to cheering crowds.

While we can count on the usual awful to mediocre ads, there are generally a few that are really clever and leave us laughing out loud. Melissa McCarthy’s saving the whales/trees/rhinos ad for KIA may have been the best ad of the day. Procter & Gamble’s ad for Fabreze, depicting the halftime stampede to the bathroom, was terrific. But I’m holding out for Terry Bradshaw and the Tide ad. Score another big, big hit for those clever folks at Procter & Gamble. I’ve watched this one a few times now, and I laugh out loud each time. But it’s not just about Bradshaw–there’s a message here: It’s not about what’s on your shirt, but what’s in your heart. Peter Fonda fans loved seeing him back, though this time in a Mercedes rather than riding a chopper, “Still lookin’ good.”

It’s difficult to escape our troubled political climate

Many advertisers took a stand for diversity and inclusiveness. Coke reprised a previous ad, “It’s Beautiful”. When it was first broadcast in 2014, it prompted a backlash because it featured “America the Beautiful” sung first in English and then in Hebrew, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi and French—these languages are, after all, spoken by Americans all over the country. Budweiser left the puppies behind this year and chose a serious political message in defense of the immigrants who have braved danger and adversity in pursuit of the American dream.

Standing for something besides the product

Super Bowl ad slots cost an estimated $5 million for 30 seconds, yet many brands are dropping the hardcore pitch in favor of a more socially conscious narrative—and may be taking sides for or against Trump. There’s a push for companies to show their social awareness. KIA’s message, for instance, is about environmental awareness. Aligning with a message shows that companies have a point of view, that they’re aware of the world around them.

Good marketing tells a story

The best ads aren’t just pitching their attributes. They’re telling a story because a story has the power to reach its audience on an emotional level, truly connecting with them. These are the ads—and the products—that we’re likely to remember when we get ready to make a purchase.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

9 Months Later: Microsoft Gives Birth to a New Linkedin

By | Social media, Uncategorized | No Comments

In June 2016, mighty Microsoft purchased LInkedin, and it spawned a lot of speculation about how the deep pockets and resources of the sotftware giant would affect this social media platform that’s set itself apart by becoming the preferred social media application for professionals.

top of mind marketing_new linkedin

Nine months later, we’re seeing the first big change: a new interface

This wasn’t just a little fluff and powder or a reorganization, it was a major overhaul for Linkedin. And guess what? It looks just like Facebook! The formerly awkward design is now much more intuitive, cleaner, faster and easier to navigate. The biggest change is on the homepage. Just like Facebook, the newsfeed cascades down the middle, just below an entry field for sharing articles, photos, and status updates.

  • There are now 7 core areas on the navigation bar. Home (Your Feed), Messaging, Jobs, Notifications, Me, My Network, and Search. With one simple click on the “more” icon on the navigation bar you can also launch into other experiences that matter to you, like LinkedIn Learning.
  • Richer Feed to keep you informed: Linkedin has fine-tuned your Feed to surface the most relevant content from people and publishers you care most about. We’ll see about this one.
  • Powerful search capability. Click on the Search icon and a field opens up that will give you the option to search people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. Coming soon: ability to search posts.
  • Who’s viewing your content: You can now see who’s reading and engaging with the content you share—by company, job title and location.
  • Suggestions to make your profile stand out: You can more easily see what you need to do to look your best professionally

Stealing from Facebook: blatant and smart

With more than 1.8 billion Facebook users worldwide, Facebook’s interface is the one that people know how to use. Linkedin and Facebook user demographics may vary, but their goals are the same: to get people to connect and share information.

Thoughtful, subtle changes transcend homepage facelift

From a user-experience perspective, it’s clear that Linkedin has thoughtfully implemented these changes. I noticed a subtle difference was when I posted my weekly blog to Linkedin. It was easier to drag and drop an image into the image field, easier to add keywords and publish. I also noticed that I can click on a link on my homepage to view the stats on who’s viewing and commenting on my blogs. In the righthand column, there’s a block that shows who’s been viewing my profile.

Nine months ago there was a lot of speculation about what Microsoft’s investment meant to the social media landscape. This redesign should put to rest to rest any doubts about Microsoft’s desire to own a comprehensive, competitive social network or to suggest that it’s just emulating Facebook. It’s not. And this isn’t a productivity play. The new Linkedin is clearly Microsoft’s attempt to become a bigger player in the social media and digital marketing space.

A little bit boring becomes a little bit cool

Linkedin has always been a little big boring when compared to the newer, flashier social media applications. The new Linkedin is infinitely more accessible with great new features. It may become cool to be using Linkedin. Never underestimate the power of Microsoft.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Snapchat Spectacles: Fun New Tech Toy for 2017?

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Snapchat has launched a Google Glass/GoPro hybrid pair of sunglasses. They cost a fraction of the failed Google Glass—they’re GoPro for your face–use these specs to capture your adventures while on the go.

top of mind marketing_snapchat

How do they work?

They record video snippets that automatically save to your Snapchat Memories, a new feature in Snapchat that stores all your saved snaps, stories and locked content. The sunglasses feature a camera with a 115-degree lens, with the purpose of mimicking how humans actually see. Okay. You do have to be a Snapchat user, but that’s easy. Create an account and get started.

Just tap a button to record

To record a snap (picture or video), tap a button the top left-hand corner of your Snapchat specs. It will automatically stop recording after 10 seconds; tap again to add another 10-second increment. You’ll see an inward-facing light when you’re snapping, and an outward-facing-light will show other that you’re recording and they’re in your field of view.

The problem: Not everyone wants to be included in your Snapchat video

Snapchat is assuming that everyone is going to know about the Snapchat Specs and be on the alert for flashing lights on sunglasses.

Snapchat Spectacles’ batteries will last about a day, and the outward-facing light on the sunglasses will serve as a battery indicator that you can double tap to see how much life is left. Recharge with the charging case and cable that comes with the Spectacles.

Cost and availability

The one-size-fits-all glasses cost $129.99 in your choice of black, teal or coral. Here’s where it gets interesting. Snapchat said it is only making a limited number of Snapchat Spectacles and the company plans to cautiously roll them out.

They didn’t hit the market until November 10; we can apparently buy Snapchat Spectacles only from yellow vending machines called Snapbots that will travel around the country selling them. They started with Snap’s headquarters in California, and each Snapbot will be in place for about a day. Track Snapbots using a map on the Spectacles website to find out when they’ll be in your area. Snapchat Spectacles can only be purchased from these Snapbots, so these become little pop-up stores. (A caveat: every time I go to the website to find a Bot, the Bot is sleeping, so manage your expectations.) You can go to the Snapchat Spectacles website, scan a QR code, add a Spectacles lens to Snapchat and try them on virtually.

Snapchat Spectacles: the hot new tech toy?

They’re fun, slick and affordable. They hit the market later than promised, and sheer logistics translated to the Spectacles’ not reaching critical mass for the holiday shopping frenzy. They’re showing up on eBay with price tags of up to $900. While we have to admire that entrepreneurial spirit, that’s more than 6x its original $129 pricetag. Is it worth it? Depends on whether you need to be the one who has the latest tech toy. If you do, you know that price is irrelevant, and the supply and demand issues—trying to find a snapbot in your neighborhood can be challenging–make them more desirable.

To keep in mind

Snapchat glasses’ videoclips are low-res and jerky–shooting from your eyes means that you’re not steadying the camera with your hands as you would in a traditional filming effort. Also—for those who love recording themselves at every available opportunity–no selfies.

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