In March of 2010 Google announced they would no longer censor their search results for China:
earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong.
While the move was pitched as altruistic, it came only after the state put their thumb on the scales to promote domestic competitor Baidu in part by periodically blocking Google search from working.
The Value of Leaving China
By leaving China on their own accord, Google controlled the narrative for investors. They didn't "lose" a market, they chose to not operate in a market.
If you are destined to lose due to political interference, you may as well look principled in the process. The idea of staying the course (being highly compromised while also losing) would have lowered Google's leverage (over publishers and governments) as well as their brand value elsewhere.
Think of how long Google has kept the EU at bay in terms of their anti-competitive practices in search.
Countries like France and Australia are just now beginning to require payment to publishers from Google.
Whenever there is a crisis Google has the ability to adjust their news algorithms (and rankings on other sources like YouTube) to prefer authoritative sources. If China lies but gives a direct quote that is an official response which can be reported in the media. Speculating, on the other hand, is not news, and thus is not likely to be done at scale on official sources.
The WHO parroted the official line of the Chinese Communist Party for months before sending in a team to begin investigating the virus which was quietly spreading globally in the background. This is evil (or, more charitably, ill-informed) their advice was:
Tedros said there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” and he specifically said that stopping flights and restricting Chinese travel abroad was “counter-productive” to fighting the global spread of the virus.
Evidence is Backward Looking
Promoting "consistent, evidence-based" risk control is utterly stupid because the evidence that you are dead only appears after you die.
It is not a game of 50/50 chance.
One outcome is death. And at the other end of the spectrum you spent $15 needlessly on a facemask.
How lowly must you view the value of a human life to determine a $15 spend on risk mitigation is reckless behavior?
Don't exceed the global standards based on China's misinformation. OR ELSE!!!
WHO can hold countries to account when they needlessly exceed these global standards. This is critical to ensuring the international response is evidence-based, measured & balanced to protect human health in ways that are neither over-reactive nor under-reactive.
Later, as evidence emerged, we find that closing borders is a great idea - even China does it. Of course early media reports were to not be xenophobic or racist and accept this global problem: "Ultimately some pandemic responses will require opening borders, not closing them. At some point the expectation that any area will escape effects of COVID-19 must be abandoned: The disease must be seen as everyone’s problem."
Later, as evidence emerged, we learn that Taiwan warned the WHO of human to human transmission last December.
Health officials the world over were guilty of the same sort of "evidence-based" stupidity.
Here is a video from February of NYC health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot advising people to go out and take the subway and live their lives, noting that city preparedness is high, their personal risk is low, and casual contact was not a large risk.
How much of a risk is the new coronavirus to New York City?
“We are very clear: We wish New Yorkers a Happy Lunar New Year and we encourage people to spend time with their families and go about their celebration,” Dr. Barbot said.
Later, as evidence emerged, we learn from serological studies that around 24.7% of people in New York City & 14.9% of New York state had antibodies for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
If you are a poor minority you are more likely to die as you have less of a cushion to do things like taking time off work and AVOID TAKING THE SUBWAY.
Thank you Dr. Oxiris Barbot!
"New York politicians are seeking answers on how to handle the growing number of corpses left by the coronavirus pandemic, after dozens of bodies were discovered decomposing in rental trucks outside a Brooklyn funeral home." - Ben Chapman, WSJ
And for a cherry on top of the stupidity cake, New York City only closed their subway system during off hours from 1AM to 5AM for daily cleanings on April 30th, *AFTER* months of letting the virus spread across the city & many blog posts like this one were published. A quarter of their population had to contract the virus before cleaning the subway regularly seemed like a good idea.
just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses . ... Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.
Protecting Yourself from Dr. Oxiris Barbot & the CCP
How many billions of dollars do people spend buying lotto tickets?
A high-quality facemask was a $15 lotto ticket that might save you from death. But buying one was ill-informed & xenophic & antisocial and and and.
Back in January I saw a video on Twitter of a guy walking down the street in Wuhan and then just fall over and die. Upon seeing that, I quickly ordered facemasks for my wife, our babysitter, my wife's parents, my mom, and my siblings.
My mom thought I was crazy for spending hundreds buying so many masks, but it was a fairly simple calculation. Whatever China was saying was hot garbage as they were literally welding apartment complexes shut.
As a general rule of thumb, life is more important than the feelz.
My wife took a DNA test and a big part of her ethnic background is Chinese. When she and I are in the Philippines many people think she is a foreigner. When I was walking with my wife in Hong Kong years ago a local street vender started talking to her in Chinese thinking she was a local. And there's nobody in the world I love more than her, but that does not mean she or I are planning a trip to Wuhan anytime soon or wanted to end up as statistics as a side effect of virtue signaling.
"Bowing to heavy pressure from Beijing, European Union officials softened their criticism of China this week in a report documenting how governments push disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, according to documents, emails and interviews. Worried about the repercussions, European officials first delayed and then rewrote the document in ways that diluted the focus on China, a vital trading partner ... China moved quickly to block the document’s release, and the European Union pulled back. The report had been on the verge of publication, until senior officials ordered revisions to soften the language."
Maintaining The Illusion of Stability
The doom scenario for China would be one where the disease spread widely across their society while not directly impacting other economies. Currencies float and trade can eventually be re-routed if supply chains are unreliable. If a place where repeated coronavirus outbreaks happen has massive hidden debts in their shadow economy the propped up currency peg would likely fall as those debts go bad and their economy crashes. Hot money has been rushing out of China for years: their companies buying foreign companies, individuals buying foreign real estate, short domain names, Bitcoin, life insurance policies, etc.
China already faced sharp food price inflation last year as African Swine Flu killed a lot of their herd. When people can't afford to eat they are more likely to push for political change. Hyperinflation is the reciprocal of political stability. Maintaining a stable food supply is a core requirement of staying in power.
Masks might make no difference, but if I spend a fraction of a percent of my income protecting my immediate and extended family even slightly then that is a good investment.
What is the price of a single needless death?
That is the calculation one should use when adopting simple & cheap life changes that can protect their families and society as a whole.
If people would have rushed to buy masks in January it would have sent the market signal to make more. Virtue signaling was considered more important than life.
Instead of any attempts at truth we got communist-fed false assurances to provide the illusion of stability. Lives lack value when compared against maintaining political power:
In 1989, when Chinese citizens raised a Goddess of Democracy on Tiananmen Square, some pinned their hopes on the People’s Liberation Army: Surely the people’s army would never fire on the people. In fact, PLA soldiers proved quite adept at firing on the people. And to this day Beijing refuses to come clean about how many it killed at Tiananmen.
Communism has always been far more about Lenin than Marx—that is, about getting and holding power, rather than any economic arrangement. And it’s extraordinary how consistent the lies and violence have been across time and geography, given the many different flavors of communism.
Fake News About Fake News
As China was lying to the world, setting hundreds of thousands of people up for death & destroying the global economy, we suggested the problem was not lies from the CCP or the disease that spread globally in part due to their lies, but rather we should fight "fake news"
The rise of “fake news” - including misinformation and inaccurate advice on social media - could make disease outbreaks such as the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic currently spreading in China worse, according to research published on Friday.
The lengths to which the WHO went to sacrifice its scientific- and health-related mission for political considerations relating to China were at times both absurd and trivial. For example, in the Coronavirus Q&A that was first posted to its website, the WHO maintained multiple versions. The original English language version of the Q&A counseled that there were four common myths about preventing or curing a COVID-19 infection: smoking, wearing multiple masks, taking antibiotics, and traditional herbal remedies. The original Chinese version omitted ‘traditional herbal remedies’ as a myth. Then the WHO took down ‘traditional herbal remedies’ in both languages. Politics over health. Politics over science. At even the smallest, silliest level.
WHO is also battling misinformation, working with Google to ensure that people get facts from the U.N. health agency first when they search for information about the virus. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation and rumors about the outbreak.
Now that the coronavirus is widespread the idea of keeping the economy perpetually shut down with healthy people quarantined is idiotic & runs counter to science. Those who shelter in place have less exposure to viruses and bacteria from their surrounding environment, which over time leads to weakened immune systems. Add to that all sorts of other issues like: doctors and nurses furloughed while hospitals are idled awaiting a pandemic that never came to most places, economic incentives to misclassify deaths as COVID-19 while ignoring other issues, missing routine treatments that would have diagnosed other health issues that are going undiagnosed for months, loss of job, loss of income, loss of purpose/meaning/ability to provide for family, depression, raging alcoholism, increased domestic violence globally & increased divorce rates in China.
Even the China Uncensored video about the CCP's coverup has a COVID-19 learn more banner redirecting attention back to official sources if you watch the video on YouTube.
Now there are some horrible and ridiculous official statements being made & a whole bunch of crazies spreading "eat aquarium cleaner, protect yourself from COVID-19." I even read a story about a guy who committed suicide because he feared he had COVID-19. All that stuff is horrible, but any and all attempts to defuse those horrible issues & clean them up should come with a note about how the CCP lied broadly, extensively, and is to not be trusted in any way, shape or form.
Where possible, China wants to criminalize any speech … any social media … that does not follow the official party line. Where it’s not possible to criminalize that speech, China wants to ban it through the cooperative censorship of global tech and media platforms. Where it’s not possible to ban that speech, China wants to shame it into the shadows by getting us to reject it as “fake news”.
And if you don’t see that the United States is about two minutes behind China in doing the same damn thing, then you’re just not paying attention.
And while the WHO has tech companies censor "fake news" the CCP releases puppet theatre cartoons about the coronavirus which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Yes that video is real. And yes, they really are that scummy.
The puppet theatre video makes no mention of police going after doctors for mentioning the virus, Taiwan reporting the virus to the WHO, the WHO ignoring Taiwan, internal briefings to Xi while the public was left in the dark, or any of the other disconnects between inside and outside voices.
The CCP disinformation campaign is widespread. They buy ads for content use cute animals to promote their absolute propaganda:
The biggest threat facing the U.S. is not the new virus, but rather right-wing populists who are intent on creating trouble with their strain of political virus.
The above statement only serves to confirm the following:
Communism has always been far more about Lenin than Marx—that is, about getting and holding power, rather than any economic arrangement. And it’s extraordinary how consistent the lies and violence have been across time and geography, given the many different flavors of communism.
Luckily China does not have a monopoly on political cartoons and they have not yet managed to classify the following as some form of fake news or hate speech to be censored.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Facebook pulling back its mandated use of Campaign Budget Optimization for ads and the addition of new […]
A generic search for [iPhone] is likely to be related to the most recent model. A search for [President Bush] likely was related to the 41st president until his son was elected & then it was most likely to be related to 43.
Faster Ranking Shifts
About 17 years ago when Google was young they did monthly updates where most of any ranking signal shift that would happen would get folded into the rankings. The web today is much faster in terms of the rate of change, amount of news consumption, increasing political polarization, social media channels that amplify outrage and how quickly any cultural snippet can be taken out of context.
Yesterday President Trump had some interesting stuff to say about bleach. In spite of there being an anime series by the same name, news coverage of the presser has driven great interest in the topic.
And that interest is already folded into the organic search results through Google News insertion, Twitter tweet insertion, and the query deserves freshness (QDF) algorithm driving insertion of news stories in other organic search ranking slots.
If a lot of people are searching for something and many trusted news organizations are publishing information about a topic then there is little risk in folding fresh information into the result set.
Temporary Versus Permanent Change
When the intent of a keyword changes sometimes the change is transitory & sometimes it is not.
One of the most common ad-driven business models online is to take something that was once paid, make it free, and then layer ads or some other premium features on top to monetize a different part of the value chain. TripAdvisor democratized hotel reviews. Zillow made foreclosure information easily accessible for free, etc.
The success of remote working & communication services like Skype, Zoom, Basecamp, Slack, Trello, and the ongoing remote work experiment the world is going through will permanently change some consumer behaviors & how businesses operate.
A Pew survey mentioned 43% of Americans stated someone in their house recently lost their job, had their hours reduced, and/or took pay cuts. Hundreds of thousands of people are applying to work in Amazon's grueling fulfillment centers.
To many of these people a lone wolf online job would be a dream come true.
If you had a two hour daily commute and were just as efficient working at home most days would you be in a rush to head back to the office?
How many former fulltime employees are going to become freelancers building their own small businesses they work on directly while augmenting it with platform work on other services like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Upwork, Fiverr, 99 Designs, or even influencer platforms like Intellifluence?
If big publishers are getting disintermediated by monopoly platforms & ad networks are offering crumbs of crumbs there's no harm in selling custom ads directly or having your early publishing efforts subsidized through custom side deals as you build market awareness and invest into building other products and services to sell.
Wordpress keeps adding more features. Many technology services like Shopify, Stripe & Twilio are making most parts of the tech stack outside of marketing cheaper & easier to scale.
Some universities are preparing for the fall semester being entirely online. As technology improves, we spend more time online, more activities happen online, and more work becomes remote. All this leads to the distinction between online and offline losing meaning other than perhaps in terms of cost structure & likelihood of bankruptcy.
Before Panda / After Panda
Before the Panda update each additional page which was created was another lotto ticket and a chance to win. If users had a crappy user experience on a page or site maybe you didn't make the sale, but if the goal of the page was to have the content so crappy that ads were more appealing that could lead to fantastic monetization while it lasted.
That strategy worked well for eHow, fueling the pump-n-dump Demand Media IPO.
Demand Media had to analyze eHow and pay to delete over a million articles which they deemed to have a negative economic value in the post-Panda world.
After the Panda update having many thin pages laying around and creating more thin pages was layering risk on top of risk. It made sense to shift to a smaller, tighter, deeper & more differentiated publishing model.
Entropy & Decay
The web goes through a constant state of reinvention.
Old YouTube Flash embeds break.
HTTP content calls in sites that were upgraded to HTTPS break.
Software which is not updated has security exploits.
If you have a large website and do not regularly update where you are linking to your site is almost certainly linking to porn and malware sites somewhere.
As users shifted to mobile websites that ignored mobile interfaces became relatively less appealing.
Changing web browser behaviors can break website logins and how data is shared across websites dependent on third party services.
Ads eat a growing share of real estate on dominant platforms while organic reach slides.
Everything on the web is constantly dying as competition improves, technology changes and language gets redefined.
Even if a change in user intent is transitory, in some cases it can make sense to re-work a page to address a sudden surge of interest to improve time on site, user engagement metrics & make the content on your page more citation-worthy. If news writers are still chasing a trend then having an in-depth background piece of content with more depth gives them something they may want to link at.
Since the Covid-19 implosion of the global economy came into effect I've seen two different clients have a sort of sudden surge in traffic which would make little to no sense unless one considered currently spreading news stories.
News coverage creates interest in topics, shapes perspectives of topics, and creates demand for solutions.
If you read the right people on Twitter sometimes you can be days, weeks or even months ahead of the broader news narrative. Some people are great at spotting the second, third and fourth order effects of changes. You can spot stories bubbling up and participate in the trends.
An Accelerating Rate of Change
When the web was slower & easier you could find an affiliate niche and succeed in it sometimes for years before solid competition would arrive. One of the things I was most floored about this year from a marketing perspective was how quickly spammers ramped up a full court press amplifying the fear the news media was pitching. I think I get something like a hundred spam emails a day pitching facemasks and other COVID-19 solutions. I probably see 50+ other daily ads from services like Outbrain & similar.
After Amazon cut their Google ad budget in March Google decided to expand Google Shopping to include free listings. When any of the platforms is losing badly they can afford to subsidize that area and operate it at a loss to try to gain marketshare while making the dominant player in that category look more extreme.
Amazon employees accessed documents and data about a bestselling car-trunk organizer sold by a third-party vendor. The information included total sales, how much the vendor paid Amazon for marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale. Amazon’s private-label arm later introduced its own car-trunk organizers. ... Amazon’s private-label business encompasses more than 45 brands with some 243,000 products, from AmazonBasics batteries to Stone & Beam furniture. Amazon says those brands account for 1% of its $158 billion in annual retail sales, not counting Amazon’s devices such as its Echo speakers, Kindle e-readers and Ring doorbell cameras.
Amazon does not even need to sell their private label products to shift their economics. As Amazon clones products they force the branded ad buy for a company to show up for their own branded terms, taking another bite out of the partner: "Fortem spends as much as $60,000 a month on Amazon advertisements for its items to come up at the top of searches, said Mr. Maslakou."
Amazon has grown so dominant they've not only cut their affiliate & search advertising while hiring hundreds of thousands of employees, but they've also dramatically slowed down shipping times while pulling back on their on-site people also purchase promotions to get users to order less.
If you have a page which is ranking that gets a sudden spike in traffic it makes a lot of sense to consider current news & try to consider if the intent of the searcher has changed. If it has, address it as best you can in the most relevant way possible, even if the change is temporary, then consider switching back to the old version of the page or reorganizing your content if/when/as the trend has passed.
One of the pages mentioned above was a pre-Panda "me too" type page which was suddenly flooded with thousands of user visitors. A quality inbound link can easily cost $100 to multiples of that. If a page is already getting thousands of visitors, why not invest a couple hundred dollars into dramatically improving it, knowing that some of those drive by users will likely eventually share it? Make the page an in-depth guide with great graphics and some of those 10,000's of visitors will eventually link to it, as they were already interested in the topic, the page already gets a great stream of traffic, and the content quality is solid.
Last week a client had a big spike from a news topic that changed the intent of a keyword. Their time on site from those visitors was under a minute. After the page was re-created to reflect changing consumer intent their time on site jumped to over 3 minutes for users entering that page. Those users had a far lower bounce rate, a far better user experience, are going to be more likely to trust the site enough to seek it out again, and this sends a signal to Google that the site is still maintained & relevant to the modern search market.
There are many ways to chase the traffic stream
create new content on new pages
gut the old page & publish entirely new content
re-arrange the old page while publishing new relevant breaking news at the top
In general I think the third option is often the best approach because you are aligning the page which already sees the traffic stream with the content they are looking for, while also ensuring any users from the prior intent can still access what they are looking for.
If the trend is huge, or the change in intent is permanent then you could also move the old content to a legacy URL archived page while making the high-traffic page focus on the spiking news topic.
The above advice applies to pages which rank for keywords that change in intent, but it can also apply to any web page which has a strong flow of user traffic. Keep improving the things people see most because improvements there have the biggest returns. How can you make a page deeper, better, more differentiated from the rest of the web?
Does Usage Data Matter?
Objectively, if people visit your website and do not find what they were looking for they are going to click the back button and be done with you.
Outdated content that has become irrelevant due to changing user tastes is only marginally better than outright spam.
While Google suggests they largely do not use bounce rate or user data in their rankings, they have also claimed end user data was the best way they could determine if the user was satisfied with a particular search result. Five years ago Bill Slawski wrote a blog post about long clicks which quoted Steven Levy's In The Plex book:
"On the most basic level, Google could see how satisfied users were. To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy users were all the same. The best sign of their happiness was the "Long Click" — This occurred when someone went to a search result, ideally the top one, and did not return. That meant Google has successfully fulfilled the query."
Think of how many people use the Chrome web browser or have Android tracking devices on them all hours of the day. There is no way Google would be able to track those billions of users every single day without finding a whole lot of signal in the noise.
10 B2B Tech Categories Gaining Interest Because of COVID-19
Telemedicine, electronic signature, online conferencing, and mobile app development were the most swiftly-rising B2B technology software categories, according to recently-released report data, showing rises of as much as 613 percent since the global health crisis began. MarketingProfs
Magnifying the Massive Growth of B2B Marketplaces
87 percent of B2B buyers and 97 percent of millennial B2B buyers purchase through online marketplaces, according to recently-released report data, also showing that millennials have preferred review websites and web search as top pre-purchase research resources. G2
Exclusive: Mary Meeker's coronavirus trends report
Mary Meeker, publisher of the Internet trends report since 1995, recently released a special coronavirus trends update, which found that on-demand platforms and online marketplaces have been seeing big numbers and high growth, among other items of interest to B2B marketers. Axios
LinkedIn Is Working on Polls and a New Hashtag 'Presentation Mode
Microsoft-owned LinkedIn (client) has been testing poll and hashtag presentation mode features, items that could eventually become part of the professional social network for its 675+ million members. Social Media Today
Marketing Benchmarks and Trends Overview: The Surprising Impact of COVID-19 on Organic Search Traffic
Some 63 percent of marketers said that they are increasing their focus on SEO due to the ongoing global health crisis, while organic search traffic for overall B2B industries grew by 11 percent during the first quarter of 2020, according to new survey data of interest to digital marketers. Skyword
How Different Generations of Consumers Use Social Media [Infographic]
Gen Z is most likely to use Instagram to follow brands, while millennials and Gen X prefer Facebook, according to recently-released business and consumer survey data, which also showed that when it came to making purchasing decisions, YouTube was the leading social media platform for members of all three demographics. Social Media Today
Millennials, Gen Z Want Distraction—and Action—From Brands During Crisis
During the pandemic, baby boomers say that they want brands to support their employees and donate to the needy, while younger generations say they are paying more attention to how brands are advertising, according to recently-released survey data. Adweek
Facebook Is Testing Longer-Lasting Stories, With an Option to Keep Stories Active for 3 Days
Facebook has been testing an option that allows ephemeral stories to extend their traditional publishing lifespan from 24-hour to three days, a feature that could eventually attract more brands to Facebook Stories. Social Media Today
Google Ads Data Hub testing audience lists for display campaigns, adding new features
Google has begun testing an array of new features within its Google Ads Data Hub — changes that could bring marketers the ability to work with same-day impression data, new sand-boxing options, and more, the search giant recently announced. Marketing Land
Strength in Customer Journey Mapping A Distinguishing Factor for B2B CX Leaders
Mapping out customer journeys to learn key touch-points is the primary characteristic of B2B marketing customer experience (CX) leaders, according to newly-released survey data, followed by collecting and acting on Net Promoter Scores. MarketingCharts
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:
A lighthearted look at urgency without clarity on digital transformation by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist
Thank you for taking the time to join us, and we hope you'll return next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don't miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.
Wondering if publishing organic social is worth your time? Looking for tips to improve your organic social content? To explore the power of organic content marketing, I interview Larry Kim on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream and Mobile Monkey. He’s a content marketing pro and a top writer […]
One great thing about being a young Gen X’er: There was no social media during my junior high and high school years.
Young millennials weren’t so lucky. They chronicled their adolescence in excruciating detail on Myspace, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, every half-formed thought and laundry-detergent-eating stunt preserved forever.
So it’s no surprise that the youngest social media users leapt on Snapchat when it launched. Snapchat Stories provided the feeling of togetherness that social media’s good at, without the potential to embarrass your future self.
Other platforms were quick to buy into the idea of ephemeral content — content that expires and is deleted after a set period of time, usually 24 hours. Instagram’s creatively-named offering, Instagram Stories, boasts 500 million daily users. That’s more daily users for a single feature on Instagram than there are for the entirety of Twitter.
But don’t count Twitter out just yet — they’re testing their own ephemeral content, called, unfortunately, “Fleets.” Even the level-headed folks at LinkedIn* are testing LinkedIn Stories with a handful of users.
For B2B content marketers, ephemeral content seems like the opposite of everything we try to do. DISPOSABLE content? No SEO value, no repurposing potential… what’s the point?
Should B2B marketers go ephemeral? It depends. Here’s what you need to know.
Ephemeral Content for B2B Marketers
Before we get into specifics, you should first consider ephemeral content the same way you would any content. I’d recommend asking the following four questions.
Four Questions B2B Marketers Should Ask about Ephemeral Content
These questions aren’t unique to ephemeral content, of course. They’re questions worth asking for any new marketing channel or tactic. They are:
Is my audience on this channel?
Is my audience consuming content on this channel?
Can we produce high-quality content for this channel?
Does this channel offer a logical next step for our audience?
For most B2b marketers, the answers to all these questions is “yes.” If your audience includes millennials or young Gen Xers, they’re likely on Instagram Stories at least. They’re used to the format and will likely be open to ephemeral content on LinkedIn and Twitter as it rolls out.
Can your brand produce high-quality ephemeral content? That’s one of the chief selling points of Stories — they’re easy and cheap to produce. There are robust tools for creating them built into the platforms that host them. And audiences expect a more informal, less-produced content experience.
As far as next steps go, Instagram Stories are actually more marketer-friendly than Instagram posts. Users can swipe up in a story to go directly to another piece of content, a lead gen form, or any other hyperlink. There’s no “Please visit the link in our bio” for Stories — it’s an immediate pass-through.
Now, if your offering skews more to the Boomer demographic, or you’re courting people too hip — or technology-averse — to be on social media, you might hold off. But it’s safe to say the majority of B2B marketers can get some juice out of ephemeral content.
How to Make the Most of Ephemeral Content for B2B
You don’t get the opportunity to build a content library with ephemeral content. By its nature, it should serve a different purpose than blog posts or eBooks. Think about building an audience and engaging them on a regular basis, rather than creating a library people wander in and out of.
Focus on Your People, Not Your Product
There are plenty of outlets for you to serve up product information and sales brochures. Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers.
Mailchimp is great at this type of story. Their “Day in the Life” series highlights and celebrates individual employees.
[bctt tweet="“Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]
Be Passionate about Purpose
For a growing majority of consumers, what a brand sells is less important than what the brand stands for. We’re looking to buy from businesses that share our values, and B2B buyers are no exception. Ephemeral content is a good way to get the message out about your brand’s larger purpose in the world, to highlight your vision for the future and your progress towards those goals.
Lush is great at blending their purpose with their more product-centered ephemeral content. It only takes a few Instagram Stories to see exactly where they stand and what they value.
Show Your Personality
If your organization is still looking for permission to loosen up a little, ephemeral content is your permission slip. It’s a format with lower audience expectations, one that’s focused on short-form, entertaining content, and one that won’t linger to haunt you until the end of time.
So it’s well worth experimenting with your brand’s voice and personality. You may find that B2B buyers are just as starved for entertainment as the rest of us.
Cisco is absolutely killing it with their Stories right now. The playful, energetic tone isn’t what you would expect from a staid titan of industry, but it’s delightful to watch.
[bctt tweet="“If your organization is still looking for permission to loosen up a little, ephemeral content is your permission slip.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]
Serialize Your Content
Ephemeral content is all about building an audience that will make your feed appointment viewing. Serialized content can help establish that habit. There are a few easy ways to serialize:
Establish regular features, like Mantra Monday, Thoughtful Thursday, or Whiskey Wednesday (okay, maybe not the last one)
Chop up a long-form video into segments and air them sequentially
Focus on a different department every week to explore your organization
For longer-form serialized content, it’s worth creating an IGTV Series. Series come with tools to help you create and promote new episodes to bring in subscribers. Check out General Electric’s Taking the World to Work series for inspiration.
Let’s Get Ephemeral!
Ephemeral content is one of the primary ways people are using social media — which means it’s relevant for any B2B business with an audience on social platforms. Adding ephemeral content to your content marketing strategy will exercise a different set of muscles than your regular content creation, but it’s a form that rewards continued experimentation.
B2B influencer marketing is an ideal way for brands to drive digital conversations during the global health crisis, and we have 13 ways influencers can virtually deliver many of the benefits that have been lost due to postponed or cancelled real-world events.
With 45 percent of consumers spending more time on social media and 95 percent spending more time on in-home media consumption according to a recent GlobalWebIndex survey, now is an ideal time for brands to drive digital conversations using influencer marketing.
Another recent survey found that 92 percent of marketers believe putting on successful virtual events will be important or critical in the coming months.
Some brands have already chosen to postpone or cancel their events all the way through the middle of 2021, including major players Facebook and Microsoft.
Physical events typically offer a well-rounded array of benefits to everyone involved, from the organizers to attendees, exhibitors, partners, sponsors, speakers, and more.
Some of the traditional benefits of real-world events include:
Boosting Brand Awareness
Gaining New Audiences & Clients
Forging New Business Relationships
Building Highly Targeted Leads
Creating Lasting Impressions
Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities
Providing Giveaway & Contest Opportunities
Saving Time with All-In-One Conference Experiences
Accessing Key People
Testing New Products & Services
Connecting with Attendees
As brands look to utilize virtual events it can be daunting to find relevant substitutes for all of these benefits that real-world events provide, and many have been asking themselves “How can I replace these key real-world event benefits?”
Luckily, B2B influencers can readily provide strong alternative benefits that don’t require physical events, and we’ll look at what they can offer for each of the traditional event advantages.
How B2B Influencers Bring Back the Benefits of Physical Events
How can influencer marketing help B2B brands create new virtual versions of the kinds of experiences that they've typically gained from traditional real-world events that are now cancelled or postponed?
“By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire,” Lee Odden, chief executive and co-founder of TopRank Marketing noted.
B2B influencers helping co-create and promote these types of engaging content experiences can be particularly powerful now, as consumers are forced to seek out inspiration in a virtual world to replace what they typically gain through attending real-world events.
In substituting virtual for real-world, our client Adobe’s annual Summit conference chose to explore a “choose your own adventure”-style virtual session selection experience — a type of content especially promotable using influencers.
“We decided the best way to do the storytelling was to allow a lot of user choice and not keep them captive,” Alex Amado, vice president of experience marketing at Adobe*, recently told Adweek.
“We felt ‘choose your own adventure’ was the best way for the audience to get more value out of it. When you’re online there are distractions, so we had to play to the situation as best we could,” Alex added.
Uniting influencers with customers and media should now be a key marketing focus for brands, according to public relations and marketing consultancy Edelman.
[bctt tweet="“By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire.” @LeeOdden" username="toprank"]
B2B Influencers Help Gain New Audiences & Clients
86 percent of marketers in charge of ad spend allocation said that they either might or definitely would use social media influencer marketing during the health crisis, topping a list of marketing strategies in a recent IZEA survey.
Tom Treanor, global head of marketing at our client Arm Treasure Data, sees strong opportunities for influencers as brands look to replace the benefits of real-world events.
"With in-person events on hold indefinitely, marketers have lost one major channel,” Tom noted.
“Events are a place to connect face-to-face with potential buyers, to share thought leadership and to gain visibility in their target markets. With that channel gone for now, it's an important time to look at other available — and often under-utilized — channels, including influencer marketing," Tom added.
"Working with influencers is a potentially valuable channel for many companies. Why? Because influencers are tapped into the current mood and interests of their audience. Their insights can help you craft your messaging to better resonate with your customers. More importantly, influencers are able to provide your company with additional reach into the influencers audiences,” Tom said.
“Lastly, influencers are able to work with your company to co-create content or to develop content on behalf of your brand. So, consider how you work with influencers in areas such as podcasts, webinars, live-streams, eBooks, blogs and social content. Are there ways that your marketing can be improved with the help of well-connected industry influencers?" Tom concluded.
Among the top ways companies will need to pivot in order to embrace B2B marketing in a post-real-world event environment is influencer marketing, according to author and technology advisor Bernard Marr.
“Digital is likely to be the clear winner here, and companies — including ones that may not so much as had a Facebook page before – will need to move into social marketing, content marketing, SEO and influencer-led campaigns,” Bernard wrote recent in the Forbes piece “Why Companies Turn To Digital Marketing To Survive COVID-19.”
[bctt tweet="“Consider how you work with influencers in areas such as podcasts, webinars, live-streams, ebooks, blogs and social content. Are there ways that your marketing can be improved with the help of industry influencers?” @RtMixMktg" username="toprank"]
B2B Influencers Help Promote New Products & Services
With the real-world events B2B brands normally attend cancelled or postponed, what roles can influencer marketing play in providing virtual alternatives to physical exhibition booths and traditional in-person product demonstrations?
“Influencer marketing’s importance went up when in-person events were canceled,” Debbie Friez, influencer marketing strategist at TopRank Marketing, said.
“Brands are fighting for attendee’s attention and time, and finding influencers are there to help to spread the news on their personal platforms about the virtual events," Debbie explained.
"Plus, brands still need independent thought leaders for keynotes, moderators and panelists for their virtual events. We are finding influencers have been using virtual media for years, and can easily adapt to the changing landscape with both ideas and the know-how to use alternative presentation channels,” Debbie added.
During this global shift to a digital-first customer experience, marketers who incorporate empathy into their efforts are especially well-poised to deliver successful virtual experiences.
“Data-driven empathy is essential for personalization across customer and employee journeys,” Brian Solis, global innovation evangelist at Salesforce recently noted.
“There's no going back to the world we once knew, the only way to get to the next normal is by plowing straight through disruption,” Solis added.
[bctt tweet="“Influencer marketing’s importance went up when in-person events were canceled.” @dfriez" username="toprank"]
B2B Influencers Bridge the Media Coverage Gap
What roles can influencer marketing play in providing virtual alternatives to the media coverage and product announcements typically gained from traditional physical events?
“B2B brands continue to impress me with how agile they’ve been with their marketing in the swiftly changing landscape,” Elizabeth Williams, TopRank Marketing account manager shared.
“Marketers are being ultra-cognizant of their messaging, publishing cadences, and ensuring their POVs and messaging on COVID-19 — or lack thereof — are aligned with their brand values. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve,” Elizabeth said.
“We can show our audiences we are tuned into their world by creating virtual experiences that inspire. And, what better way to do that than featuring credible industry experts and thought leader influencers?” Elizabeth added.
“Influencer-driven content can lead the conversation through live panels, webinars, podcasts and larger virtual events. Or, influencers can add a refreshing seasoning of the latest insights or advice on the changing marketplace. Think blogs, LinkedIn* articles, interactive assets, videos and social content,” Elizabeth suggested.
“Regardless of what tactics suit your business needs and objectives, I’d encourage every B2B marketer to step back and reflect on whether influencer marketing is a fit to take their content to the next level in today’s extra noisy virtual world,” Elizabeth concluded.
[bctt tweet="Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve.” @ElizabethW1057" username="toprank"]
Boosting Brand Awareness With B2B Influencers
What additional roles can influencer marketing play in driving virtual brand conversations and boosting brand awareness?
Now is a great time for B2B brands to utilize relevant industry influencers who can successfully drive virtual conversations that expand brand exposure and help with lead generation, as our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis explained.
“Partnering with influencers is more important now than it ever has been. Targeting the right influencer communities can be the best way to expand virtual event attendance and reach into a broader audience — who may not have planned to travel to your live event or conference,” Susan noted.
“If marketers focus on bringing true subject matter expertise to their audience — especially in partnership with influencers — I predict that virtual events will actually grow to be even better than live events for reaching and building positive awareness with an audience,” Susan added.
Industry writer Katie Sehl recently suggested in a HootSuite article about the rise of virtual events that influencers take advantage of the social stories format, including hosting influencer takeovers — another way that influencers can drive brand conversations.
“Speakers often double as influencers — so provide them with the details they need to become event ambassadors,” Katie noted, highlighting the strength of influencers when it comes to digitally replacing some of the key benefits of real-world events.
[bctt tweet="Partnering with influencers is more important now than it ever has been. Targeting the right influencer communities can be the best way to expand virtual event attendance and reach into a broader audience.” @smisukanis" username="toprank"]
Begin Or Expand Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program
As we’ve seen, successful B2B influencer marketing has much to offer for brands seeking to replace the benefits of real-world events while they’re on hiatus due to the global health crisis.
Implementing a successful program takes time, effort, and dedicated strategy, which leads many brands to use a top B2B influencer marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing, which was the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in Forrester’s “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America” report.
[bctt tweet="Successful B2B influencer relationships take time to build and require time to maintain.” @LeeOdden" username="toprank"]
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