Why Twitter #Hashtags Are Worthless [Infographic]

Twitter is a fantastic tool for disseminating information to an audience in real-time. It’s absolutely no surprise that companies, celebrities, and authority figures more and more respond to the public using this medium. Because of that, media organizations are constantly citing posts on Twitter as an almost immediate news source. Twitter isn’t limited to news purposes however as users engage in conversations, link sharing, and posting interesting content since inception.

Spammers have also discovered Twitter as a tool to blast out their messages, often interrupting real information with plugs for their unrelated causes. It’s been estimated that about 5% of Twitter users are fake and although Twitter attempts to crack down on these users, they continue to pop up. Automated tweets also adds another level of complexity to the Twitter ecosystem. The technology has it’s purpose, for example automatically tweeting one of your recent blog posts to your followers, but it also provides ample opportunity to turn a real person into a robot. Another example of a frustrating practice is thanking your recent followers with a generic automated DM, as it adds no real value.

As a side, because of all of these fake accounts I regularly attempt to scrub my fake followers with free tools like CrowdFire, where I remove followers who haven’t been active for more than 6 months.

Now let’s talk about how #hashtags fit into this story.

Hashtags are a great tool to group tweets together among a large number of users. They can effectively combine posts for an event or topic, providing an easy way to follow the conversation. But the problem occurs when spammers target hashtags in an attempt insert themselves.

I recently discovered an infographic by VENNGAGE, which is a company that provides everything you need to create and publish infographics for free. They created an infographic titled “Why Twitter #Hashtags Are Worthless,” and in this infographic they state that “while hashtags used to be one of the most exciting parts of Twitter, bots and spammers now target popular hashtags in their tweets, likes and shares.” Feel free to review the full infographic below:


Infographics: Hashtag Spam

Hashtag Spam | Infographics

Get On the Map! 5 Free Local Listings Submissions

I was recently working with a start-up that desperately needed some help getting the word out for their products and they weren’t’ showing up anywhere. Additionally, their business required that customers find them on a map. Being a start-up they didn’t have the funds to invest in some of those “premium service” offers to bulk submit and manage updates to your listings for a monthly fee.

Luckily, I’ve gone through the manual process a couple times and offered to help. In less than 2 hours, I was able to submit their business, location, and contact information at no cost to them.

A month later, their company listing showed up across the web and key maps.

Below are the local listing submission services I used. The great news is that these services leverage each other to make sure they each have the latest companies populated in their databases. Some of them are redundant submissions but I figured for the amount of work, might as well do them all.

And if the company ever needs an update then simply follow the same steps.

1) Google Business Listings

google-business

Sign up with your business information.

Mark where you’re located on the map.

google-business-add

Verify the business by phone or mail.

2) Yelp for Business Owners

Create a social / local listing on Yelp.

yelp

3) Neustar / Localeze

This submission powers other location services like Bing, Yahoo, and YP

neustar

4) Yellow Pages

Search for your business, click “Claim” or “Suggest a Business”

YP-suggest

Enter your business information.

YP

5) Express

Gets your listing on Google, Bing, and many more sites across the web.

Express

Really Good Emails (Email Marketing Best Practices & Ideas)

As you redesign your marketing emails, it helps to reference some of the latest trends and ideas from fellow marketers. I recently discovered some fellow email geeks and innovators at ReallyGoodEmails.com who have curated, captured, and categorized thousands of emails for our viewing pleasure. They take quick snapshots and categorize them them for easy reference.

really-good-emails

Some key categories below:

Discover Marketing Technology Used by Leading Companies

Have you ever wondered what technology the most innovative and successful companies are using to power their platforms, foster collaboration among their employees, or market their products and services?

For marketing-related technology alone, there are hundreds thousands of companies to choose from, see graphic:

For some great insight into these questions, I recently stumbled upon StackShare.io, which attempts to curate all of the tools companies are adopting in the categories: Application and Data, Utilities, DevOps, and Business Tools.

For example, these are the business tools used by Airbnb.

airbnb

As someone who strives to keep up-to-date with the latest marketing tools, I was curious to see what was the most popular for Support, Sales, and Marketing.

Current ranking is…

  1. WordPress – website content management
  2. Mailchimp – email marketing system
  3. Zendesk – customer service software
  4. Intercom – customer communication platform
  5. Adroll – retargeting ad platform
  6. Hubspot – inbound marketing platform
  7. Drupal – website content management
  8. Marketo – marketing automation platform
  9. Salesforce – customer relationship management
  10. Olark – live chat platform

You can also look at individual match-ups. For example, here are all of the companies using marketing automation software Hubspot versus Marketo.

hubspot-vs-marketo

Feel free to take a look as you make the decision on what type of email marketing service, marketing automation provider, website content management system, or advertising tool.

10+ Free (Yes, Even for Commercial Use) Stock Photo Websites

Sometimes web designers, entrepreneurs, and digital marketers just need some basic stock photography to elevate their website or landing page. Even if you’re bootstrapping or on a tight budget, you still need to find quality eye catching graphics and photos.

Well look no further than the following free and no copyright CC0 stock photography websites.

1) StockSnap.io

stocksnap

2) Unsplash.com

unsplash

3) Pexels.com

pexels

4) Gratisography.com

gratis

5) VisualHunt.com

visualhunt

6) Finda.photo

findaphoto

7) Pixabay.com

pixabay

8) Kaboompics.com

kaboompics

9) Tookapic.com (Select Free Tab)

tookapic

10) Lifeofpix.com

ifeofpix

Bonus Sites:

BarnImages.com

Buckeylistly Photos

Brain & Storm

Cupcake

GetRefe.Tumblr.com

GoodFreePhotos.com

GoodStock.photos

FreeNatureStock.com

FreeMageBank.com

Jaymantri.com

Libreshot.com

Looking Glass

MMTStock.com

Mystock.photos

Negative Space

New Old Stock

Pictography.co

PublicDomainArchive.com

Skitterphoto.com

SplitShire.com

 

 

Useful B2B Digital Marketing Benchmarks [Infographic]

When planning upcoming marketing campaigns it helps to take a look back at your historical metrics to determine if your tactics were successful or not. If it was an email campaign, you’re naturally looking at open and click rates. If you launch a paid search ad, you need to know your average click-thru-rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC).

Once you know these numbers, the next question is “What does success mean for each?” And that’s where gets interesting. Some metrics can be determined by working back from business metrics but other times you just want a quick reference to industry benchmarks.

Insight Venture Partners, a leading global private equity and venture capital firm, created this Periodic Table of B2B Digital Marketing Metrics.

insights-periodic-table-b2b-metric

Download as PDF

Increase Productivity with a Bullet Journal

One of the keys to stress-free productivity is transferring all of those critical thoughts from your head to someplace else on a regular basis. Because the human brain can only think one thought at a time, it becomes overwhelming to keep them bouncing around all day long.

I’m always been an avid note taker. I typically fill a couple pages per day with conversations I have with colleagues, important tasks (with that ever so satisfying box I swiftly check when I complete one), and with key dates that I need to make note of.

The problem I’ve always had with my notebooks is that they are painful to revisit. It is time consuming to find something more than a day ago and I end up rewriting the same information over and over again.

Then I discovered the Bullet Journal a few months ago and it completely changed how I take notes.

The genius behind it is the structure and brevity.

The structure can be set up with the following sections.

  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Log
  • Daily Log

Next, you “rapid log,” according to creator Ryder Carroll. As shown below, you start by creating tasks with dots, notes with dashes, and events with circles. You’re then able to complete or migrate each item in short order as you go about your day. An “X” over the dot means you completed it. You can indicate you’ve moved the task forward with a “>” over the dot. Strike through the whole task if you’ve decided it’s no longer worth your time.

bullet-journal

It works with any notebook but they do sell an official Bullet Journal for $20.

Once you get comfortable with the system, you can start to customize it to your needs. For example, I add my tasks as they come up through the week to my “weekly log” instead of a “daily log,” enabling me to pick and choose the tasks that I expected, or switch focus to new high priority tasks come up.

Watch this video on YouTube if you want to give it a shot.

2016 Summer Reading List for Marketing Leaders

If you’re a thriving marketing leader, chances are one of your beliefs in life is to never stop learning. You’re probably always keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest blogs, books, and magazines. You read about business, leadership, productivity, negotiation, marketing, social media, etc. I’d like to recommend the following books to add to your reading list.

The New Rules of Lead Generation by David T. Scott

Learn from a corporate marketer who has been there. The New Rules of Lead Generation intelligently outlines the best practices and strategies for developing your system of lead generation. Integrate the 7 most successful lead-generation tactics and you’ll be set.Click here to read the first chapter for free

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Marketers sometimes struggle with differentiating their products or services from the competition. Seth Godin, in the The Purple Cow, describes the importance of creating and delivering an exceptional product that is “remarkable.” Targeting the right customers and prospects is key to building the momentum you’ll need to capture the masses. Learn how to position your brand and build a loyal follow base in this easy read book.Click here to read the first chapter for free

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

The best companies and brands that are rising to the top have a special focus on the customer experience and delivering great service. Gary Vaynerchuk identifies some of the best and pin-points what they’ve done to achieve their success. This book is a strong advocate for using social media to scale your 1-on-1 interactions with customers and creating a relationship with them.Click here to read the first chapter for free

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Whether you’re in a small startup or a large corporation, the principles of The Lean Startup can help you achieve product innovation and growth. Many companies struggle with developing new products because they don’t create a continually process for testing and receiving customer feedback. By closing the loop, delivering a product faster, and focusing the right measurements then one could achieve great success through this model.Click here to read some of the methodology on the book

Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch

Some great back-to-basics marketing strategies for small or large companies with a tight budget. Partly focused on strategy and stories and much about culture, this book provides a great perspective from a highly experienced marketer. Duct Tape Marketing starts with truly knowing your customer, giving them the simple solution they need, and building marketing into your company’s DNA.Click here to read some free content on the Duct Tape Marketing blog

Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute

This is a must-read leadership book for every level of an organization. It is written as a parable that walks through the majority of “people problems” that occur in the workplace. Without these common problems, a person and organization and focus on results that matter.Click here to read excerpts from the book

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

Successful people are the hardest to convince that they need to change because they are, well successful. Marshall Goldsmith, through his great experience coaching executives, has developed a killer list of behavior traits that hold people back from achieving even more success. Whether you’re a new manager or a rising CEO, following these “20 habits that hold you back from the top” might be your answer to achieving your goals.Click here to learn more about this book and others on the author’s website

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

This book is a leadership fable about a young CEO who is thrown into a technology company and has to win the hearts and respect of her fellow executives. It’s an easy read with a built-in model for how to overcome universal team dysfunctions. The five steps from bottom to top are: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.Click here to learn more about this book and download the Five Dysfunctions model.

Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey

If you’re looking for a rock solid playbook on how to build your culture, team, and processes from a reputable financial advisory, then look no further than Dave Ramsey’s book Entreleadership. He walks through the trials and tribulations of starting his business from the ground up. Great insight on how to manage people and how to let them leave when necessary.Click here to listen to the Entreleadership podcasts

Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

This is a great and easy read if you’re looking to understand the best way to get your ideas adopted. What are the characteristics of ideas that seem to have a life of their own? Chip and Dan Heath develop a framework based on the great ideas of the past. Does your idea explore the framework: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credential, Emotional, Story.Click here to read the first chapter for free

The Little Black Book of Innovation by Scott D. Anthony

Innovation can be a complex topic because of the range of thinking and mass of information out there. It’s become a popular topic because of the impact it can have on companies and markets. The Little Black Book of Innovation does a fantastic job of simplifying the subject by summarizing the experts throughout history. This 28-day guidebook provides insight into innovation and how anyone can begin to master it.Click here to download a free excerpt

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

If you’re looking for a book on networking, then look no farther than Never Eat Alone. Keith Ferrazzi provides his rich life story of how he put developing relationships first and foremost. By taking the time to actually add value to other people’s lives, while expecting nothing in return ironically provides you with an abundance of opportunity. Learn how the great leaders and politicians instantly create an intimate and genuine relationship through this insightful book.Click here to learn more about the book on the author’s website

The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha

The Start-up of You encourages readers to look at their own careers and networks from an entrepreneurial perspective. It teaches how to differentiate oneself and leverage connections to get results. This book provides great insight into building real relationships that allow everyone to get ahead.Click here to download the executive summary

Getting Things Done by Stuart Diamond

Not many people stop and ask themselves “Am I spending my precious time wisely?” Even after acknowledging that the answer to that question is “No,” many don’t have a different solution. Getting Things Done (GTD) is a great book for increasing anyone’s productivity. This book and system offers a proven system to manage the tasks that can sometime overwhelm the day.Click here to request free articles and handouts

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be more productive and take control of your life then this book is for you. Timothy Ferris is a comedic and informative entrepreneur who tells the story of how he automated his online business and manages it remotely from dozens of countries around the world. This is a great resource for tools and solutions that will help you remain focused on setting your goals and empowering you to accomplish them.Click here to read some of the content from his free blog

Getting More by Stuart Diamond

Getting more out of your life isn’t about getting everything you’ve ever wanted, and neither does it mean that anyone else gets less. Stuart Diamond teaches you specifically how to use invisible negotiation tips to get more from companies you buy from, your kids/family members, or your employer. This book is about expanding the pie and coming to a mutual arrangement. This is not your typical “win win” negotiation book.Click here to learn more about the book on the author’s website

Honored to have Won Chicago’s Power 30 Under 30

I am honored to have won the Power 30 Under 30 Award for Business in Chicago! Thanks Apex Society and Porsche! Read NW Herald article and Chicago Business Journal article.

Cody Ward - Power 30 Under 30

Marketing professional added to prestigious list of 30 young professionals under 30 in Chicago.

Cody Ward, 29, a marketing leader, consultant, entrepreneur, blogger, and social media enthusiast living in the greater Chicago area was named to Chicago’s 1st Annual Power 30 Under 30™ list. The award was presented by the Apex Society, an international young professionals organization, in conjunction with Porsche Cars of North America.

Ward has worked to help Fortune 500 companies and start-up businesses alike create and launch their B2B or B2C marketing campaigns. By combining technical solutions with modern marketing strategy, Ward has developed a track record for executing digital marketing campaigns that deliver strong ROI.

Ward strives to give back to his community through contributing his time and skills to various non-profit organizations including Dignified Dining, which fights hunger in the community and Guardian Angel Community Services, a domestic violence shelter.

The Power 30 Under 30™ Awards honors thirty outstanding individuals under the age of thirty from Chicago that have achieved extraordinary success. Young leaders are recognized from the following categories: 1) Arts, Entertainment, & Media 2) Business 3) Community Service 4) Politics 5) Science & Technology 6) Sports.

Ward was selected as a winner in “Business” with other award recipients at a ceremony and reception hosted by the Apex Society and sponsored by Porsche Cars of North America on Thursday July 21st, 2016.

The Apex Society is an international young professionals club (by invitation only) founded in 2000 that fosters a sense of community through positive business, personal, and educational relationships for its members. The Apex Society’s members are the brightest and most accomplished young professionals around the world. The organization also creates opportunities for its members to give back to the community, especially community organizations whose mission is to build the next generation of overachievers.

Website: http://www.power30under30.com

Book Review: The Art of the Start 2.0

Art of the StartGuy Kawasaki once again shows his entrepreneurial genius with his latest book The Art of the Start 2.0 – The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything.

I was fortunate enough to get a pre-released copy of the book and was excited to see the changes from his original version. Guy named the book 2.0, and rightfully so, as it is 64% longer than the original version and packed with ideas.

The Art of the Start 2.0 walks you through the critical steps of: Launching, Leading, Bootstrapping, Fund-raising, Building a Team, Evangelizing, Socializing, Rainmaking, Partnering, and Enduring.

Guy’s stated goal with this book is “to make entrepreneurship easier for you.” I believe he’s done just that but don’t be fooled into thinking he does all the thinking for you. He puts you to work with this book and challenges you to apply the material to your own idea/start-up.

Much like a workbook, Guy stops to provides exercises throughout each chapter and pushes you answer important questions. Therefore, I believe each person will take away a personalized and unique experience with the content.

If you’re starting something new or an entrepreneur at heart, this book is well worth the investment.

The Art of the Start 2.0 is available on Amazon now.