Storytelling: From Discovery to Delivery

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Are you setting the “visions, values and agenda for an entire generation that is to come”?

I grew up in rural Africa with a rich culture of storytelling and Steve’s words in the quote above resonate deeply with me.

A good storyteller will have a vast tapestry of anecdotes to draw from in order to weave a powerful narrative that will open the hearts and minds and change behaviours of their listeners, incrementally shaping the future with every story.

In my youth, the storytellers would roam from village to village, observing activity, collecting anecdotes and retelling tales in order to help the village elders achieve the behaviours and outcomes they desired. Tales of tragedy would be used as a warning of the dire consequences associated with a certain path of action while stories of hope and prosperity achieved by other villages would motivate new behaviours and actions in an attempt to imitate the same.

I am the current day incarnation of the storytellers of my youth.

I scan the world for TIPS – Technologies, Innovations, Patents and Start-ups and I  contemplate the consequences and implications that these will have on the future of society, industry and the individuals within.

But my villages where I harvest the anecdotes from are vastly dispersed and while I do my best to visit as many as I can in person by attending conferences and exhibitions across the world and speaking to academics and thought leaders and participating in discussions and panels, there is no way I could find and keep track of the stories and snippets from which to weave my narratives without a little help.

OK – without a LOT of help.

 

I have previously made use of a plethora of tools, folders, ad-ins, widgets and whatnots in an attempt to curate order from chaos but was frequently overwhelming and required far too much overhead to sustain.

And then – in May 2016 I overheard a brief snippet of a pitch being delivered to a potential customer browsing an exhibition stand at The Next Web (TNW).  It was something about “content curation” and the fact that they were using my language stopped me in my tracks – I had to investigate further!

The diminutive stand belonged to Cronycle – a platform I’d not yet heard of which was surprising to me as I thought I had tried them all. I moved in closer, steeling myself for the inevitable disappointment associated with much of the “vapourware” I was used to coming across at events like this. I could hardly contain my excitement as the exhibitor stepped me through the capabilities of the fledgling app. It was already a more capable tool than the combination of three or four of the tools I was using, all put together! Of course, in such situations, the correct response is always to act cool and probe for more – you wouldn’t want a start-up to think they had nailed it one now do you?

I eventually left the stand with a casual “I’ll give it a try” and walked off.

At first, I did simply “give it a try”. You must understand that I had already invested hundreds (more like thousands) of hours building up a repository of information from which to create my stories that I tell across the globe to audiences of all sizes. There was a LOT at stake here – my reputation being the most important factor taken into consideration!

The first shock came when I was almost instantly contacted by the COO, Jeremy. He wanted to know if I would be willing to come into their offices in London to explain how I did what I do and how Cronycle could play more of a role in helping me achieve my goals. Then came the second shock – this wasn’t just a customer platitude! Jeremy genuinely listened to what I said and he shared with me his vision of where they were headed.

He had a great story – I bought into it completely!

 

Over the next couple of months the feature drops and enhancements came at a pace I’ve rarely seen in any start-up – and I’ve mentored my fair share of them over the last couple of years.

My days now start with a journey through my digital villages to catch up with the latest happenings – content feeds curated around major topics by Cronycle themselves and those that I have created using a combination of my own sources and a myriad of previously unknown sources surfaced via the Cronycle interface. If I am researching a brand new industry or topic I know I will have relevant content pouring into my feeds within seconds. Cronycle is now my primary discovery tool that I consult before tapping into any other source.

Storytelling discovery on CronycleDiscovery – showing Wired article on board

But discovery is only part of what I do. Curation is arguably of greater importance to me and for the first time ever, this is effortlessly achieved in a single interface. I can “pin” articles, documents and images to “boards” and even upload my own, tagging them for cross-referencing using my own taxonomy. If I worked in a larger organisation as opposed to on my own, I could invite others to comment and discuss and add their views and opinions to enrich the information snippet (yes, I do use this to argue with myself on occasion but we will gloss over that for now).

I later use these boards when I’m invited by a company or event to stand up and tell stories to an audience – drawing from a vast tapestry of anecdotes in order to weave a powerful narrative that will open the hearts and minds and change behaviours of their listeners, incrementally shaping the future with every story I deliver.

Storytelling at a client workshopDelivery – showing Wired article on screen at Customer Experience event

These guys are on a mission to change the way relevant content is uncovered, socialised, curated and repurposed and they are now woven inextricably in my own work from discovery all the way through to delivery.

Go on – give them a try – and see for yourself how you can set the “visions, values and agenda for an entire generation that is to come”.

 

The guest post was written by Andrew Vorster, Innovation Catalyst. You can follow Andrew further on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

 

 

BailBloc: A Lesson in Cryptocurrencies’ Constraints?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Charity is not the most obvious use of cryptocurrencies. In fact, it might be fair to say that most anecdotes involving blockchain-derived monetary systems are about conmen and almost criminally gullible suckers. Between ridiculous Initial Coin Offerings, with proposals as wild as reshaping the dental sector, the association with petty criminals and the far-right, and simple, old-fashioned fraud and theft, the innovation which was meant to reshape how we did business has had a rough time.

But with BailBloc, a brainchild of the New Inquiry (a New York based cultural magazine), that looked set to change. The initiative, in tandem with the Bronx Freedom Fund, promised users that slacktivism powered by blockchain could really have an impact on the world. By running the application on your computer, you could effectively take part in bitcoin ‘mining’, solving complex equations to earn Monero. This money is then ploughed into the Bronx Freedom Fund, and used to support those who cannot pay for their bail.

As a number of commentators have pointed out – perhaps most notably arch crypto-sceptic David Gerard  – it’s a far more circuitous route than it first looks. The amount of electricity poured into cryptocurrencies has risen over time as the calculations have grown increasingly complex: each ‘block’ you mine makes the subsequent one worse value for power. Not only is this massively detrimental to an environment already reeling under the blows of Trump’s EPA and worsening pollution elsewhere in the world: it also means that the amount of money donated will fall over time. Gerard makes the colourful analogy that it’s essentially burning $5 of coal, then sending $4 to the Bronx Freedom Fund. He also makes the valid point that Monero is a favoured target of particularly nefarious users of cryptocurrencies, because it is a especially hard to trace. As a result, BailBloc users will find themselves competing with automated accounts and botnets, which can muster up far more power.

It’s unfair to call BailBloc naive, because in many ways it recognised how the magic of cryptocurrencies – printing money from thin air! – can motivate users. In a very real sense, the project grasped the amount of processing power on hand around the world; it’s a lot easier to get people to give that up than to follow traditional donation models. The New Yorker‘s decision to class it as art does feel patronising, ignoring its fundamental genius: BailBloc runs on the principle that people (even its creators) don’t really understand how computers, or the internet, or cryptocurrencies really work.

In spite of the radical libertarian ethos which underpins them, blockchain-based currencies are increasingly the game of criminals (who have access to large scale botnets), or miners who can afford massive server farms. In short, those looking to use them for social causes are inevitably likely to be outgunned. In fact, those who are looking to use them for personal gain are also likely to be outgunned. The quest for grand decentralisation simply puts the power to mine new money into the hands of a different set of elites.

The (In)justice of Algorithms

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In 1956, when Philip K. Dick wrote The Minority Report, the internet wasn’t around. In fact, the internet’s forbears wouldn’t appear until the next decade. But whilst the detection of ‘precrime’ in Dick’s short story was through the power of unfortunate mutants, we are rapidly moving into a present where the power of big data and algorithms are to solve crimes. The supposedly cold rationality of computing is supposed to trump our own prejudices.

And yet, it won’t.

The fear of algorithms is not exactly a new topic, but it’s one that only grows more relevant over time. Algorithms decide what news you see on Facebook – which not only pushed out valuable workers, but also doesn’t really fix underlying issues of exclusion and bias. Then there’s the complaints about the exact algorithm which Facebook uses to push different contacts to your newsfeed: another black box, which the company is unlikely to crack. The other social media titan of our time, Twitter, has also quietly pushed algorithms to shape the content we view, including one which is designed to ‘support conversation’ – by listing potentially controversial comments lower in a list replies. When those controversial tweets are often more conservative, it’s unsurprising that the right cries out against media bias (try looking at a statement by Trump, and you’ll often find tweets skewering him for incompetence at the top, in spite of the dates). Uber, which threatened to bring down the cab industry around the world before a series of corporate missteps and outright illegal acts stymied its progress, is built upon the algorithm which routes drivers to passengers, allows for the complexity of UberPool, and keeps drivers on the job longer (for the good for the good of the company). And unseen to all of us are the advertisers who use algorithmic information to work out with which ads to target us to best effect, building up a composite image of our lives. They might not be totally accurate, but they offer a far greater amount of information than any survey did before.

Civilian deployment of algorithms is concerning, but manageable – an inconvenience which can be outwitted with enough time and energy. Search engines like DuckDuckGo can keep you off their radar; as a last ditch measure, there’s always Tor. Admittedly, staying off Facebook and Twitter is toxic for your social life (and for professions like journalists, dangerous for your work life too), but it’s not a matter of life and death.

Unlike, say, an algorithm which US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to bring in, to help with tasks like “determin[ing] and evaluat[ing] an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society as well as their ability to contribute to national interests in order to meet the EOs outlined by the President.” If you thought that having real human beings deciding whether you should be allowed into a country was a worrying thought, imagine outsourcing that to an algorithm.

Assuming that it doesn’t break down – always a big assumption – the real fear lies in the coding behind it. As in the cases described above, algorithms aren’t neutral entities: they reflect the beliefs of their designers. It’s safe to assume that if ICE – an enforcement agency not known for its charitable views on immigrants – is designing something to do their job for them, it’s stance won’t be a liberal one.

And it doesn’t stop there: just as algorithmic job interviews are coming into practice, so is algorithmic sentencing. In theory, it offers redress through the power of big data. In practice, it amplifies the biases we practice everyday, but it gives authorities an excuse for their decisions: ‘computers can’t be wrong’, or so the argument goes.

Explainer: Austrian Elections

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Whilst British politics has been in turmoil over the past few months (even ignoring Theresa May’s disastrous speech to her own party), Europe’s attention has been rather rudely diverted by events in Austria. After the shock success of the Alternative fur Deutschland at Germany’s elections shattered the nation’s belief in its immunity to populism, legislative elections at Austria appear to have done the same there.

It’s not an entirely unexpected turn of events there, admittedly. Over the course of a twisted presidential election last year, the far-right Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (the Freedom Party of Austria or FPO) received the most votes in the first round, only to lose out in the second against the Green Party. Then, the whole election was declared void due to apparent irregularities in the process. Finally, the FPO was defeated in December 2016, but gained a respectable 46% of the vote.

At first glance, the victory of the conservative Österreichische Volkspartei (OVP) under Sebastian Kurz is less significant than the FPO’s presidential performance. Whilst it has anti-immigrant rhetoric, the OVP is broadly speaking a less extreme party, defined by economic liberalism and Catholicism. But an alliance between the OVP and FPO now seems likely, and would have the precedent of an earlier coalition as recently as 2002.

In essence, this gives the FPO a run at power on its key issues: most notably immigration, euroscepticism, and Islam. Where the centre (both in Austria and in the European Union at large) would have provided a bulwark against changes on these fronts in 2002, the situation today is almost unrecognisable, with Britain leaving, Germany lurching rightwards from under Angela Merkel’s feet, and Emmanuel Macron, the greatest supporter of Eurozone integration, isolated and losing popularity fast. Instead, as Politico reports, Austria is joining a vaunted club of Central European countries whose leading political movements (Fidesz in Hungary, and PiS in Poland) care little for Brussels and even less for Muslim refugees. A dangerous and growing isolationism, tied to archaic ideals of national identity (often carefully skirting the knottier bits of history).

That broader context is what makes the groundswell of right-wing populism so dangerous, creating a cycle in which parties in neighbouring countries see the successes of these ideologies and find themselves emboldened. There doesn’t seem to be a master plan for a grand European populist alliance as yet, in part because Europe is a messy patchwork built by generations of wars and treaties (the FPO, for example, demands part of Tirol – historically an Austrian province – back from Italy) – and yet each victory is a blow against the EU.

In light of all that, Theresa May’s situation looks a little less grim. Britain might be a ship with no clear helmsman, but the mood in Europe, towards the idea of Europe – tempered by the refugee crisis of 2015, growing ethnonationalist tensions, and a general displeasure with neo-liberal elites – is turning increasingly ugly. Brussels’ power has taken yet another blow, and this is unlikely to be the last.

Explainer: Godmen

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Godmen are hardly new to India – in fact, the image of the charismatic figure, perhaps in saffron, with a flock of devoted followers hanging off every parlour trick, is practically a cliche. They come in different varieties – some claim to cleave to Hinduism, others are more lax on their religious heritage – but at their core, all share a similar callous disregard for human autonomy and a commitment to finding fame and fortune.

Some of the stories are borderline ridiculous – take Guru Ashutosh Maharaj, whose body has been left in a freezer since a fatal heart attack three years ago. Whilst his family want it back, his devotees are convinced he’s just meditating, and that sticking the corpse in a deep freeze is the closest thing to the calming environment of the distant Himalayas. But this isn’t the story of irrational superstitions so much as it’s a tale of greed: the late Ashutosh had property in the order of $160 million. It’s hard to be so convinced of the purely religious piety of his followers when that much money is floating around.

If there was one godman who best epitomised the worst of the trend, it’s been Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh – the man whose arrest for carrying out the rape of two young followers sparked rioting which lead to the deaths of more than 30 individuals. Singh, in spite of his supposedly aescetic religious background, was known for gaudy jewellery, large-scale civic hygiene events, and a series of movies starring himself as, essentially, a God. If there was any doubt about this humility, his decision to essentially dress up as a Sikh religious figure should have put paid to that, sparking riots between his followers and orthodox Sikh groups – a prelude to the more recent, deadlier violence he initiated.

Singh is not the only member of his movement to be dubbed ‘eccentric’ at the least. His adopted daughter, Honeypreet Insan, had starred in several of Singh’s movies, and has 1.2 million followers on Twitter – not an insignificant following, considering that she is now in police custody under suspicion of having organised the riots surrounding Singh’s arrest. Her website paints her as a world-renowned actress and director rather than a felon.

The problem of religious zealots is not a peculiarly Indian one; neither is the problem of religions acting as cash cows. But the central role which godmen like Singh play in politics is less common in other states, where the religious fringe is treated as the religious fringe for good reason. Singh has been courted by both the Congress Party and the BJP, India’s largest political parties. For India’s politicians, he was a convenient vote bank, offering access to large numbers of voters. Whilst they might have sent in police forces to help restore order after his followers had gone on the rampage, politicians had effectively allowed Singh to become the problem that he was.

Other controversial godmen have found similar succour from the state – Asaram Bapu, another convicted rapist, had received massive grants of land from Congress and BJP governments. By using them as middle men, India’s political system chooses to ignore the problems which create them – rampant inequality, religious intolerance, and the remnants of the caste system all play a part. By failing to deal with godmen, India’s politicians have fundamentally neglected these issues – and the citizens plagued by them.

 

Explainer: Alternativ für Deutschland

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In 2012, a group of German luminaries of some stature – including a former state secretary of Hesse, a veteran journalist, and a professor of macroeconomics – started a party as an alternative to Angela Merkel’s government. The Eurozone crisis was at its fiercest, with Grexit looking significantly more likely than Brexit as austerity measures grew increasingly unpopular and Brussel’s patience with the southern European state grew thin.

The ‘Alternative for Germany’ (Alternativ für Deutschland or AfD)began with a manifesto which received the support of journalists, thought leaders and professors who agreed that the Euro was increasingly becoming an unstable and ineffective currency for Germany to participate in. Many of its early members – including Alexander Gauland, former state secretary – were drawn from Merkel’s own Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU), a traditionally conservative party which retained a deeply conservative aspect, fiscally as well as socially.

At a time when the EU’s woes were marked by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was hard to imagine that the party would become the de facto voice of Germany’s xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment – ending the decades long claim by the country’s politicians that the nation’s history  immured it to populist hatred.

Back in 2012, a Eurosceptic party in the heart of the Eurozone’s most powerful and industrious nation was enough to make quite a splash. At first glance, its showing at the 2013 federal elections wasn’t so promising – it achieved just 4.7% of the vote, about one and a half percent more than UKIP in 2010, and missing out on entering the Bundestag. But German’s fractured electoral system, which relies upon alliances between parties with often disparate goals, made this showing considerably more potent – especially as the other smaller parties all lost a few percentage points. Nevertheless, the union of Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christlich-Soziale Union (CSU) received a 41.5% of the votes, putting it within spitting distance of an absolute majority.

The AfD was not phased by this, and entered the European Parliamentary elections in 2014 with enthusiasm, reaping just over 7% of the national vote, with its seven members joining the European Conservatives and Reformists group alongside the Tories and other major European conservative parties. 2014 marked a turning point in the group’s fortunes, with state elections that year and in 2015 providing further proof of a German swing to Euroscepticism.

It was to be in 2015 that the anti-immigrant, xenophobic party which the AfD is known as today emerged, as Frauke Petry, a self-described national-conservative, took control of the party, moving it away from the economic conservatism which had marked its early stages. Instead, it became the party which most readily capitalised upon Angela Merkel’s choice to welcome refugees fleeing from ISIS. If dissent towards the Eurozone had been shocking, an uncomfortably mainstream party with anti-immigrant, pro-Russian leanings was horrifying – hinting at a strain of politics which Germany had long claimed to reject.

All of which made the 2017 election so disturbing. Not only did the CDU and CSU return with a significantly reduced majority of 32.9% – a sign that Merkel’s support for refugees had significantly if not fatally dented her popularity within her own party – but the AfD surged to take 12.6% of the vote, clearing the barrier to gain representation in the Bundestag and becoming the third largest party.

In terms of practical politics, the other German parties have done their best to exclude the AfD: politics there has traditionally been based on alliances, allowing Merkel to stay in power without an absolute majority. But the challenge she faces can’t be ignored: her most likely allies, the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) and Die Grünen (The Green Party),are at odds with each other politically, and unlikely to have great faith in the future of the CDU-CSU.

Yet the AfD’s path to further political disruption is unclear. Petry announced her resignation co-chair shortly after the election – perhaps ironically as part of a belief that the party’s ever more radical bent (with current leader and founder Alexander Gauland clamouring for recognition of Wehrmacht soldiers) will doom it to the position of a noisy but perennial opposition. But regardless of the political change it enacts, the AfD’s success this year mark a new high-water mark for populism – and a new ebb for those who saw Germany as the ‘special case’ of Europe.

Explainer: Journalism in India

Reading Time: 3 minutes

India has long prided itself on being the world’s most populous democracy, in contrast to its nominally Communist neighbour to the north-east. Journalism, usually considered a key tenant of free societies, dates back to the colonial era – in 1871, Irish surgeon James Hickey started a paper in Bengal. Hickey, who had fallen out of grace with the local governor Warren Hastings, used the venture as an attempt to ‘speak truth to power’, accusing him of being a tyrant.

Unsurprisingly, Hickey’s Bengal Gazette lasted approximately a year in total, but it would symbolically pave the way for a press unafraid to take on the government. Gandhi himself founded Young India after his release from jail in the 1920s, as a vehicle to disseminate his message in favour of non-violent protest against British rule.

So it is doubly disturbing that a constant stream of Indian journalists have been killed in recent years. For a country which continues to point to sister states Pakistan and Sri Lanka as examples of poor press freedom, the world ranking suggest otherwise: India comes in at 136 on the Reports sans Frontieres Press Freedom Rankings, just three above Pakistan and five above Sri Lanka. The killing of Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh – just one of many – have brutally exposed this.

It’s true that this isn’t the first time in India’s history that the press has come under sustained attack. Most famously, for 21 months between 1975 and 1977, Indira Gandhi ruled the country by decree in what became known simply as The Emergency. In with campaigns of forced sterilisations orchestrated by her son Sanjay, the arrests of regional opposition leaders, and the essential end of habeus corpus, the power was cut off to printing presses. In one of India’s most famous obituaries, The Times of India carried this:

“D.E.M O’Cracy, beloved husband of T Ruth, loving father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice, expired on June 26.”

But the simple fact of the matter is that journalists in India have rarely been safe. Since 1992, the Committee to Protect Journalists has listed 68 journalists and 3 media workers as killed, over half covering politics or corruption. The difference today is perhaps in the callousness – or even delight with which the murders are considered amongst audiences and even fellow journalists.

Lankesh’s death was treated as just vengeance by nationalists incensed by her critique of Brahminical politics and the ruling BJP, and her support for non-military options when dealing with the Naxalites (Communist insurgents prevalent in India’s Eastern ‘Red Corridor’). As reported in The Wire, an Indian online publication, elements of India’s right wing sought to place the blame on Naxalites who had turned on her, or sought to defame her by association with student dissidents.

And where Lankesh made the headlines, dozens others have not. KJ Singh, a veteran editor , was stabbed to death along with his mother in their home in what police consider a professional killing. Bengali journalist Santanu Bhowmik was abducted and murdered whilst covering clashes between the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Tripura, allegedly by members of the former (although many questions still remain to be answered on this front). The IPFT is aligned with the National Democratic Alliance, the BJP lead power bloc, though as with anything in Indian politics,

And those are just this year: at least five more were murdered last year (according to the Committee to Protect Journalists), and another four in the year before that (and the list seems woefully incomplete, not yet updating for the killings of Singh or Bhowmik). Previous victims included Rajdev Randan (who had worked on stories about a political leader from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, a Bihari political party.

With strong nationalist and theocratic tendencies under the current government (which treats any dissent as ‘anti-national’), coupled with equally potent and ruthless regional parties keen to push for their own agenda, it is hard to see the situation resolving any time soon.

Explainer: Chat Bots and the Artificial Intelligence Revolution

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A recent report by market researchers Inside Sales paints a fractured image of artificial intelligence. The growth of the industry is unquestionable, but respondents were not uniformly pleased with this. Nearly 40% worried about lost jobs, and over half said they never used it, with 20% predicting their coworkers would be robots. At the same time, over half saw a positive net effect on business, with about two fifths envisioning machines replacing humans in dangerous jobs. 

The humble chatbot hardly seems the most inspiring face of the artificial intelligence revolution – Siri has pages and pages dedicated to her misunderstandings, Alexa orders products she hears on TV, and Microsoft’s Tay was reduced to a xenophobic bigot within hours. 

But their increasing ubiquity – in spite of their flaws – suggests that they’re increasingly integral to businesses. Granted, we might not see the robot takeover the media foresaw when Facebook’s chatbots began talking to each other in their own language – but a report by computing giant Oracle suggests those who predicted robotic colleagues were probably right. 

Oracle sees a $174 billion saving for finance, retailers, and customer services through chatbots. Amongst the  advantages they offer is 24 hour service, which half of those interviewed desired. They can also  provide a far quicker rate of response than manned messenger apps, which can take up to 10 hours to be responded to. 
Oracle puts all this within a broader trend of consumers engaging more directly with businesses via Facebook messages rather than simply posting on pages. Whilst the chatbots evolution and expansion is good news for customers suffering from emergencies and in need of immediate support, the subtext is that the associated jobs in the service industry are likely to vanish. 

The report also differentiates between two schools of chatbots. The task oriented are “more robust interactive FAQs”, whilst digital helpers fall under the conversational. The former, whilst less complex, are still pretty useful. Josh Browder, a Stanford graduate, popularised a sub category of ‘legal chatbots’, for example. His app DoNotPay, mistakenly labelled as a ‘robot lawyer’, offered easy legal advice for those with parking tickets. He’s also created an app to allow those who were effected by the Equifax hack to sue in a small claims court for up to $25000 without a lawyer. 

Neither are very ‘clever’ chatbots – you can’t expect them to be launching challenges against the Supreme Court – but they fulfil their purpose quite handily. But it’s the conversational chatbots, who are capable of opening their horizons through machine learning, that are most promising. 

Experts admit it’s still early days for them. At the Mobile World Congress Americas, developers pointed out that the current generation are capable of responding to commands – “Play Taylor Swift”, for example – but largely lack the capacity for a conversation. Moreover, they tend to follow rigid patterns, and can fail to understand different expressions with the same meaning. 

As machine learning is becoming more widespread, these flaws will slowly vanish however. Already, natural language processing and neural networks are (at a lower level) fairly quotidian. For some complex tasks even current generation conversational bots are proving their mettle – as Wired reported, conversational bots are being deployed as bias free HR recruiters

And the future looks even brighter. Conversational interfaces – which can draw from voice as well as messaging and other stimuli – are just entering the fray. As this article from Chatbots Magazine shows, the evolution towards the high tech AIs of Hollywood is not linear – sometimes offering users less freedom of inputs in the short term will increase their interest in the longer term. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that sweeping changes in chatbots aren’t coming. 

The parameters for the extraordinary are constantly shifting. To access the Internet was a limited luxury; today, it is practically a necessity. The idea of a digital helper was limited to the realms of Clippy for years – today, Siri or Cortana are industry standards. Whatever misgivings we might have about even more advanced chatbots have to be settled soon, or we risk losing out to those early adaptors who seize the moment. 

Explainer: Cryptocurrency Regulation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the 8 years since the elusive programmer(s) Satoshi Nakamoto first floated the idea for a secure, anonymous currency, the fortunes of Bitcoin and its fellow cryptocurrencies have waxed and waned. The Royal Bank of Scotland toyed with Etherium last year, and crypto enthusiasts have touted EU investment (lead by tech paradise Estonia) to the tune of €5 million in block chain starters as a sign of greatness to come.
But all is not well in the land of the cryptocurrency. The glut of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), the sale of coins to crowdfund projects, has laid bare a mixture of the ridiculous and the criminal. The former – including Dentacoin, which promises to somehow disrupt the dental market – epitomise a sort of futurism gone wrong: the belief that everything needs breaking, and that block chain technology is always the answer. This is patently absurd: the addition of cryptocurrencies does not inevitably form a new paradigm.
The issue of the criminal element is more severe however, because it has caught states’ attention. Whether it’s the repeated failures to secure cryptocurrencies allowing hacker’s access (DAO, June 2016), embezzlement by programmers within block chain exchanges (Mt Gox, December 2013), or association with criminal elements (the highly anonymous cryptocurrency Monero and dark net market AlphaBay, June 2017), or the apparent bubble which Bitcoin has become have engendered as much suspicion amongst governments as enthusiasm, if not more.
That’s come through in a spate of regulations against cryptocurrencies, with the most draconian example evident in the Chinese ban on all ICOs and other cryptocurrency launches. Although this was announced to be temporary yesterday, the impact of the proclamation was enough to knock Bitcoin down a few hundred dollars.

More worryingly for crypto enthusiasts, rumours remain over whether this is a step towards an even more stringent act against a ‘parallel’ economy, with a massive potential shock if Bitcoin exchanges were closed. Venezuela, another country with a rather top heavy approach to politics – albeit one in considerably more dire straits – banned cryptocurrencies as it became clear that they were increasingly supplanting the local currency. Whether China might view block chain based currencies in a similar light is speculation, though not impossible.

Its neighbour India has approached somewhat more gently – while ICOs remain unfettered for now, the central bank acknowledged that cryptocurrencies were “susceptible” to abuse. The most infamous use of cryptocurrencies – illicit trades for drugs and weapons, or money laundering – smacks of the black money which Modi’s demonetisation tried and failed to remove from the system. 

The two most populous countries in the world are joined by nations including South Korea, Japan, and Ukraine, with various degrees of regulation. The assorted working groups all seem to agree that at the least, a new regulatory framework is needed for the Wild West of currencies
What does this mean for Bitcoin and co? It’s not all bad news – Canada, home of Ethereum, has shown an increasing willingness to support cryptocurrencies. The launch of the Canadian Bitcoin Fund, an investment fund based around the rising value of the cryptocurrency.

Estonia has also gone hard for block chain, announcing last month that it wanted to start a new ‘estcoin‘. This would raise eyebrows in any situation, but coming on the heels of an Italian suggestion to introduce a separate domestic currency, it looks like an attempt to gravitate away from tthe Euro.

These are glimmers of hope that in time, cryptocurrencies will gain the cultural cache and parity with regular currencies which advocates desire. But the impact of the Chinese decision to freeze out ICOs might presage a wider collapse in the crypto currency market. If countries such as Japan, India and South Korea were to follow China, even a staunchly pro-crypto attitude like Canada’s might not be able to stop as stunning a fall as Bitcoin’s meteoric rise. Where the rate of the Bitcoin goes next is down to the Middle Kingdom, and whether it sees block chain as a boon or a threat.

Thought Leadership: Marketing Automation Is Your Secret Weapon

Reading Time: 3 minutes

automation and thought leadership

The phrase marketing automation has been gaining traction for quite a while now. That’s not much of a surprise. Marketing automation reduces time spent on repetitive marketing workflows. It gives great breadth of individualisation based on actionable insights. It ensures a personalised relationship with each customer at scale. It can increase revenue, it suits all kinds of businesses: B2B or B2C.

Now, smart organisations and individuals are looking at other uses of marketing automation. – as a tool to build brand authority and thought leadership through segmented campaigns, drip marketing, and curation.

Marketing Automation For Brand Authority

How can marketing automation apply to building brand authority and thought leadership?

Marketing automation leverages aggregated content to deliver relevant content directly to your audience. It help boosts your brand as influencers in your field by giving your audiences valuable content.

Marketers will be familiar with automation. Some will already have experience with it.

We define marketing automation as: “marketing automation lets you automatically send the right message to the most receptive users at a time that is convenient for them…” Marketing automation is the cornerstone to helping your business survive and thrive.

Preparing your strategy in becoming a thought leader depends on your chosen field. It may need TV spots, publications or speaking opportunities. Yet, It’s clear that for any business based online, a robust online presence is vital. Marketing automation is the point on which your online presence can hinge.

Remind Me, What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is software that automates tasks. It is applied to email, social, content channels, lead generation, metrics and management activities. It often combines insights from CRM, analytics and systems relevant to your business to drive leads.

It’s no secret we are big fans of automation. The Element Wave platform is designed for automating marketing experiences, especially on mobile. And Cronycle allows users to push curated content from RSS and Twitter direct to your website. We’ve seen automation work firsthand.

Marketing automation enables stronger communication. It lets marketers align their business with the needs and interests of their customers. It builds authority and helps position your brand as a thought leader.

Using Automation Effectively

Are you looking to utilise marketing automation to develop your position as a thought leader? We have these best practice tips to follow:

  • Are you an expert in marketing, baking, photography? Establishing long-term brand authority requires consistency. An automated email course can share your knowledge and deliver value to your sign-ups.
  • Automated email marketing gives a one-to-one connection with your audience. Newsletters with dynamic personalisation aligns your content with your audience profiles and preferences. A/B test, run reports and see what works. These drip campaigns do the hard work for you.
  • Mobile marketing automation delivers granular-level personal details to build contextual interactions with your audience. Drilling down into your user data, you can supply content to app users based on more than their interests. You can use their recent interactions and behaviours as triggers for your content.
  • Build up your customer profiles and use those to deliver in-depth authoritative content. Automatic tracking provides an understanding of each customer’s interests, habits and behaviours. Utilising long-term engagement loops means your customer profiles are always updated.
  • Segmentation is a no-brainer step for delivering brand authority. You can find out what works for your users and apply it to your content cycles. Use rules to separate your users into the groups relevant to your content and share it with them to help cement your status as an expert.
  • Marketing automation as part of your promotion cycle. Brand authority comes as a result of your content reaching the right people on the right channel. Adding your highest-performing content to your promotion cycle ensures it reaches new audiences.
  • Curate other expert content with marketing automation. Automate content from an RSS or content reader like Cronycle or Feedly to your chosen marketing automation tool. This helps release the burden of manual campaign creation.
  • Marketing automation display constant business activity. It shows that you’re putting in the work, showcasing your ability and talent.

At some point, as your business grows, you’ll need to look beyond the spreadsheets and email addresses that fuel your persona file.

If you’re making a concerted effort to build your brand identity as a thought leader, let marketing automation do the heavy lifting for you.


About the author

Cáit Power is Mobile CRM Team Lead for Element Wave. We make incredible technology that powers mobile marketing automation. Cáit’s background is in mobile marketing, journalism and travel.

The Best Five Tools to Create Awesome Email Newsletters

Reading Time: 3 minutes

email newsletter tools

When it comes to email marketing tools there are thousands of options to choose from. The one size fits all approach doesn’t quite cut it. The best tool will depend on the size of your company, what you would like to achieve, your budget and etc. There is a lot to consider. The following list will give you a run-down of the tools that tick a lot the boxes.

AWeber

AWeber is an email automation tool. This newsletter tool helps you build campaigns with easy to use templates. The tool has a WYSIWYG editor which is an excellent feature for front-end web designers. AWeber also provides email marketing classes on strategy and audience building tactics.

Features include:

  • Autoresponder capability with advanced scheduling
  • Third party integration
  • Spam check program
  • Advanced subscriber forms
  • Import contacts
  • Free templates and stock photos
  • Track emails to analyse your marketing campaign

Pricing: Unlimited emails at $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers

Publicate

This tool has everything you need to send out epic content to your readers. It integrates with tools like HubSpot, MailChimp, Gmail, Outlook and Cronycle. Publicate has an easy-to-use drag and drop editor that allows you to push your favourite content to newsletters and webpages.

Features include:

  • Simple drag and drop editor
  • Mobile responsive HTML
  • Easy to create, customisable mobile responsive HTML templates
  • All your content and favourite sources, in one place for easy management
  • Integrates with Feedly, Slack, Chrome, Pocket and more

Pricing: Get access to unlimited emails, integrations and analytics from $15 a month

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is powerful email marketing and automation tool aimed at businesses. It uses a drag and drop builder with fully customisable design. With the A/B testing tool, you can test out subject lines and optimise to boost click through rates.

Features include:

  • Hundreds of email templates
  • Send out targeted messages using audience data
  • Track, test and optimise
  • Seamless integration with CRMs systems

Pricing: Get basic email support at $9 a month, send 2500 email to a list of 500 people

iContact

The tool is designed to manage your business contacts and add them to your email list. It integrates with CRMs like Salesforce to use data and segment the audience. iContact helps you send out social updates via Twitter and Facebook to help you connect with your audience.

Features include:

  • Easy-to-use email campaign management
  • Social Media Scheduler
  • Spam Check
  • Manage audience lists

Pricing: Send out emails to 500 contacts at $14 a month

Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi is known for simplifying email campaigns. Edit emails with ease and see quick stats. Create drip campaigns for customer engagement with Mad Mimi.

Features include:

  • Customised themes
  • Add contacts via CSV files or paste from a spreadsheet
  • Integrate forms direct to your website
  • Track real time for links
  • SSL security to ensure mail delivery to subscribers

Pricing: Plan out sending emails to 500 contacts at $10 a month

What’s Next?

Pick the one suited to your needs and build awareness, boost engagement and generate leads with the right newsletter tool.

We’d love to hear about your choice of tools. Get in touch!


About The Author:

Lavanya Loomba is a content writer and marketer. He covers topics related to content marketing and innovations in the world of social media. He also loves making cartoons and painting t-shirts in his spare time.

You can connect with him on Linkedin and also view some of his work here.

How one piece of content had over 850,000 page views

Reading Time: 5 minutes

How 1 piece of content got thousands of views

At Mykidstime we’ve been working on a specific content strategy for the last 2 years, which has yielded results for our business, won us awards and ended up exceeding our expectations. Today I’m going to tell you the story of how one particular piece of content has had over 850,000 page views. It’s a fun story but it’s also interesting in terms of dissecting why it has been so successful.

The Last Time Poem

The content in question is a piece called “The Last Time Poem”. It’s a sentimental poem about the last time that parents do things for their child.

We knew from our community on social media that parents love sentimental content but what’s been amazing is that the content to date has had 852,452 page views and over 80,000 social shares.

Clearly, people love it but what’s really interesting is the process of how it came about and some key things that helped to drive the success.

best articles huge views

 

Targeted Content

If you are writing content for your business then you need to target that content at your end users, your customers, your prospects, your avatars/personas.

The more targeted the content is to the audience the more likely it is to interest them.

In our experience on Mykidstime there are 5 motivations for people reading content.

  • It engages their emotions. Whether that emotion is sentimentality about their kids as in the case of our content piece, or anger, or joy, or whatever emotion you are aiming for people to have, people love to be touched emotionally in some way.
  • It solves a problem. Why else are those life hacks content pieces that you see all the time online and on social media so shared? Because people love solving annoying problems they have in their life.
  • It adds value to their life. This could be saving them time or making them a better person, for example, so when we write content, we are competing with a million other things that people could read or look at or watch online, so adding value to their lives will make your content more likely to be read than not.
  • A very powerful catalyst. People want to know that they are not missing out. So we see this on Mykidstime in content that is about being a better parent or things to tell your teenager – the reader wants to read it to make sure they aren’t missing out somehow.
  • It amuses. Another strong contender to getting people to read, people like to be amused and funny content works well in terms of shareability.

You then have to pay attention to other factors such as title, visual, where you will distribute your content but your starting point is who is the target reader you are writing for and how can we hit one of those 5 things on our content.

Social to Content to Social

Using social media to listen to your community then delivering the content they enjoy back to them is a virtuous cycle. (Think crowd sourcing tips, for example,  which you then use to write a blog post and share back out again to your community.) Here’s what happened with The Last Time Poem:

We posted a text version of the poem on our Mykidstime Facebook page and we noticed that it had a great reaction – lots of comments and likes and shares.

So we decided to create a blog post on our WordPress website.

Finally we reshared the blog post back out on Facebook. Again great reaction and lots of comments, like and shares.

We continue to reshare this particular blog post link regularly on our social channels.

When you see that content has resonated with your audience, it’s important to continue sharing it out on a regular basis. So looking at your Google Analytics to see what content has been most viewed on your website, where the traffic has come from to that content, and including it then in your social media content schedule is a key piece.

The importance of the visual

With any online content nowadays it’s important to choose a strong visual as the lead image. We found a retro black and white image of a mother kissing her child that harked back to childhood and felt nostalgic.

An ideal lead visual should tell the browser at a glance what the piece is about. If you need to, you can add your content title to the image (and branding too), this will also increase the chances of turning the browser into a reader.

With online attention spans now being less than 8 seconds according to a study carried out by researchers at University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute, it’s important that you choose your visual carefully to maximise the opportunity you have when people see it. And that the visual along with the title or headline entices action too.

[quoter color=”plum”]So the easier the user experience is for them to share your content, the more chance you have of driving results from your content.[/quoter]

The Importance of Social Sharing

Another element to the success of our content has been the social sharing plugins on our website. They make it easy for people to like and share our content across social platforms they use.

After all, we see it all the time on Facebook don’t we?! People share on Facebook because the platform has made it super easy to share content, all the user has to do is click that share option under the post and one further click has it spreading out to their network.

So the easier the user experience is for them to share your content on your own website, the more chance you have of driving results from your content.

And by the way, when you publish a new content piece, you should social share it straight away as that helps search engines to see that it has validity.

Don’t forget SEO

Building in keywords into your content also helps drive results. If you google “the last time poem” our link comes up first. This has helped bring traffic and drive out the content. So don’t forget to do your SEO basics like hitting keywords, structuring well etc.

Google and other search engines now look at the social shares as a measure of how relevant people found the content and as we know, relevance is king when it comes to SEO.

So to summarise, targeted content with a strong visual coupled with smart social media distribution – your own social channels and social plugins to encourage sharing – are keys to hitting wow results with your content.


About Author:

Jill Holtz is co-founder of award-winning parents’ website www.mykidstime.com and new B2B digital marketing website www.digital4sales.com. Jill can be found on LinkedIn at https://ie.linkedin.com/in/jillholtz and Twitter at www.twitter.com/jill_holtz and you can find Mykidstime and Digital4Sales on social at:

Facebook at www.facebook.com/mykidstime
Twitter at www.twitter.com/mykidstime www.twitter.com/digital4sales
Instagram at www.instagram.com/mykidstime www.instagram.com/digital4sales

How to use the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle to create effective content

Reading Time: 5 minutes

repurpose content

In this article, we’ll show you how to create compelling and effective content using the three R methodology – Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

Reduce

Creating valuable content isn’t all fun and games. Publishing top notch content and meeting deadlines can get a bit hectic at times. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Even the best authors at times have published content they are not very proud of.

So why not combat the frustration, by reducing the content creation time?

Establishing a workflow

To put it simply, a workflow is a checklist of steps required to create and publish content. Workflows save time as they set a pre-defined path to follow, it ensures your efforts contribute to the larger organisational goals and keeps everyone on the same page.

A workflow includes the following:

  • Identifying a theme or topic
  • Gathering the stakeholders involved
  • Assigning the role of content governance
  • Identifying the distribution channels of content
  • Content optimisation for search engines
  • Setting up deadlines for publication
  • Promotion and amplification of content

Tools to your rescue – Trello, Meister task

Setting up guidelines

Following particular guidelines for creating and managing content, reduces the hindrances in content creation and even boosts creativity. When digital guidelines are positioned correctly, they help provide better content experience to your audience.

You can setup guidelines for editorial, design and delivery. If you miss out on the benchmarks, you can turn to the guidelines for answers.

Guidelines you can use for reference:

Editorial – How to set up editorial guidelines, writing and citation styles

Content – How to structure content for a web page

Design – Brand guidelines, type of images to be used

Delivery – Distributing content via a distribution platform

Tools to your rescue –  DivyHQ, WriteWell, Marketing.ai

Analyze data

There is no better way to find out what type of content is a hit or miss. Look at the analytics data to see what type of content is under-performing. Use data to enhance customer experience and streamline the content creation process.

A data-driven content strategy generates nearly five times more revenue than a standard content marketing tactic.

Tools to your rescue –  Buzzsumo, Google Analytics

[quoter color=”yellow”]The posts which remain evergreen are one of the strong contenders to repurpose[/quoter]

Reuse

The main idea behind reusing or repurposing content is to take something you have created and give it a fresh spin. You might already have a content pool from your blog. Dig into your metrics to find out the top posts with views, time spent on the website and social engagement.

If an article is well informative, make sure to do a quick editing before re-publishing. The posts which remain evergreen are one of the strong contenders to repurpose.

Update existing content

Actively review and change the existing articles to match the needs of today. New information about a particular topic might make your content piece look outdated. To stay relevant in search results and keep fresh content for your readers, update the existing articles.

The focus is to entice customers to visit your website by consistently delivering updated information. Find out what content you can expand on in context to the current industry scenario to get more eyes on your blog.

Social media

Look for unique content which can be used beyond the social networks. Platforms like Facebook and Snapchat let you download content which can be used to grow and create an audience.

Let’s say you create a Facebook live video and do a quick Q/A with your customers. You can later download the video and convert it to a blog post answering the specific questions and also giving an overall view of the topic.

The benefit to repurposing content from social media is that you already have an idea of what your audiences engage with. You can further utilize that content piece to gain an additional audience.

Reformat

There are different mediums you can use to convert the content you’ve created.

Some of the different formats you can use to go the extra mileage includes the following:

  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Emails
  • PDFs
  • Podcast / Webinar
  • Live stream
  • GIFs
  • Ebook
  • Forum / Discussion
  • Case study
  • Testimonials
  • Emails
  • Remarketing ad
  • Quiz, Poll, contest

With this approach, you can make most of your content accessible and more immersive for your audience.

[quoter color=”yellow”]Collaborating creates a positive brand perception and is a good opportunity to create more audience[/quoter]

Recycle

Recycling content is a process which makes it possible to create new assets out from the existing ones. You can easily face-lift the content previously created, turn them into bite-sized chunks and reap long-term rewards.

Syndicate

Using syndication networks, can get more views to your content. Websites like Business 2 Community, allow you to syndicate content previously created. Popular paid networks include Outbrain, Zemanta and Taboola which use your content to send it across various websites.

Benefits include:

  • Reach out to more potential customers
  • Get more organic traffic
  • Stop worrying about creating content
  • Focus more on amplification

You cannot ignore these benefits as it makes your content work again and again.

Collaboration

Unleash the power of content with collaborations. As the customers you want are already the fans or followers of a brand, you have the opportunity to build a trusted relation with them. You can pool in the audience of the other company to create content which will drive demand for the products you offer.

Creating great content which impacts an audience isn’t easy, you along with a partner can successfully leverage a bright idea to build relationships.

Avis, a car rental company produced a video in collaboration with TOMS shoes, as both brands share a common impression and social values.

Collaborating creates a positive brand perception and is a good opportunity to create more audience.

Curate user generated content

Accelerate your content marketing efforts with user-generated content (UGC). Drive results with content which is real and proven. It can be in the form of pictures, videos, tweets, blog posts and is the result of users promoting the brand.

Coke’s campaign dubbed as ‘Share a Coke’ took all over the world, and for increased engagement, customers were asked to share photos of themselves enjoying the drink. The campaign resulted in thousands of UGC content which promoted the business and enhanced the brand’s image.

Tools to help you curate like a pro include Curalate, EngageSciences, Janrain, Cronycle.

Less is more

Using the three R’s with a mix of effort and creativity lets you use the existing content assets to weave magic and go the extra mile.


About The Author:

Lavanya Loomba is a content writer and marketer. He covers topics related to content marketing and innovations in the world of social media. He also loves making cartoons and painting t-shirts in his spare time.

You can connect with him on Linkedin and also view some of his work here.

The Best Examples of Content Marketing for Retention and Loyalty

Reading Time: 4 minutes

examples of content marketing for retention and loyalty

We live in a time where providing only a great product or service is not enough to retain and create loyal customers. To keep your business up and running, content is your most valuable and go-to resource.

“Content is King”, is one of the most popular sayings in the digital world.

So, how is content important for customer retention?

A business thrives on its customers. They are the single most building block for healthy business growth. Selling a product can be considered a goal, but customer retention should be the long term objective. A satisfied customer can turn an evangelist for your business and return more for the services you offer.

The cost of acquisition of a new customer is five times more than maintaining existing customers.

[quoter color=”plum”]Content is your most valuable and go-to resource[/quoter]

By creating content keeping customers in mind you are in an advantageous position to retain customers by offering them a favorable experience. If you reward customers with a good experience, they may return the favor by promoting your product.

Great content examples

The perfect content model works at the intersection of fulfilling customer’s need and achieving business goals. Let us take a closer look at the best content marketing examples for customer retention and loyalty.

HubSpot – Helping marketers deliver targeted content

The inbound sales and marketing platform creates online content for marketers daily.

HubSpot blog covers topics related to marketing and sales to attract over 2 million monthly visitors. HubSpot specifically targets users across a range of marketing topics and uses magnets and gated content to maximise the goal of procuring leads. The broad spectrum includes well-organized content with guides, eBooks and templates.

Work like the Hubspot model and break your blog content into several different topics followed by compelling lead generation magnets to ensure customers are engaged.

GoPro – Adventure is fun with these cameras

Video content has now become the primary mode of communication amongst online users. 64% of users are likely to buy a product after watching a related video.

GoPro is dubbed to be the world’s most versatile camera. Getting your target audience to work for you has been one of the quickest ways to grow a business and GoPro has perfected the art of putting customer as the hero.

Users upload their adventurous journey captured with GoPro, which is then used to entice potential customers with an array of viral videos.

The video of fireman Cory Kalanick rescuing a kitten from a burning house received over 20 million views on YouTube.

From GoPro we learn about the type of content which resonates with the audience and how it can be leveraged to bring back more customers.

General Electric – Humanizing Tech

This company has innovation in its genes. GE is changing the face of the future and pushing the boundaries of content. GE believes in innovation and covers the topic in a unique way by experimenting with various content formats.

This gives them the chance to select the right stories and put it across in a new angle.

GE has always been among the first brands to adopt new social media functionalities.  From GE using drones to producing podcast, the brand is consistently experimenting.

This makes GE produce interesting content across relevant platforms and meet the audiences demand. Tailoring content to the specific platform is the key to staying relevant in an information overloaded world.

[quoter color=”plum”]Creating content and presenting in a unique digestible format can easily grab the attention of your customer[/quoter]

NYT – Keeping users engaged leveraging IT

New York Times, a print media paper has also taken over the digital world.

It is setting an example for how to package an old medium to a modern cutting-edge world.

NYT introduced Virtual Reality (VR) to create an immersive experience for its customers. With the introduction of VR, NYT presented its audience a new way of presenting content.

Creating content and presenting in a unique digestible format can easily grab the attention of your customer.

Tactics for customer retention

  • Learn about your customers’ interests

How about creating a frictionless experience by identifying customers’ interests?

Businesses lose a customer because they cannot interpret the buying behavior.

For example, if a customer has to go through a series of steps for completing an online purchase, a drop in checkout rate might be seen. To optimize conversions, knowing what a customer would like to see will help you create a favorable user experience.

  • Don’t just sell, inform your customers

What about the latest industry news or a technique which could save time? The need to inform the customer to take the right action is more important than ever. Actionable insights which make a customer help correct or improve an action is key. Do not be sales focused, inform the customer about how your product can work wonders for him or her.

  • Employee advocacy

Looked under the hood?

Did you find the most under-utilized assets?

Yes, the employees. Serving as advocates for your brand, personalized customer experience can be easily delivered. Employees can share their passion with the customers by offering prompt customer service and also cross-sell products while interacting with them.

  • Solve a Problem for Your Customers

Why would anyone buy your product if it doesn’t help them achieve any of their goals?

Retention is the byproduct of a great service to help solve the customers’ problem. You’ll able to gain loyalty as you become the problem solver.

[quoter color=”plum”]Leveraging content marketing for customer retention requires a long term strategic approach of providing valuable content to your audience.[/quoter]

  • Keep your audience informed

Added a new feature to a product, fixed bugs in the existing software or offering discount, keep the audience informed about what you are working on. This will help keep them engaged and well-informed. Improve your product offering, encourage participation and also beta test your products by inviting your audience.

Over to you

Take time to understand how the customers perceive your product. A happy customer drives the success of an organization and leads them to another loyal customer. Leveraging content marketing for customer retention requires a long term strategic approach of providing valuable content to your audience.

Create loyal followers and grow your business using content suited to your customers’ needs.


About The Author:

Lavanya Loomba is a content writer and marketer. He covers topics related to content marketing and innovations in the world of social media. He also loves making cartoons and painting t-shirts in his spare time.

You can connect with him on Linkedin and also view some of his work here.

Four Types of Content Curation Ideas

Reading Time: 4 minutes

content curation for content ideas

‘The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.’’ –  Bill Gates

The beauty of the internet is that you can learn about anything you like. With an abundant of information out there, you can learn how to code or speak a new language, all just a click of a button.

You can also share what you like with your peers and friends. But finding stuff to share is an art we call ‘Curation.’ Curation is the act of selecting, refining and arranging to add value to the content you like. The concept of curation is interesting, as we relate it to a museum curator who is responsible for managing and showcasing cultural collections.

If you too are looking to develop that showcasing skills to your friends or followers, learn all about the art of curation and ideas to help you get started.

Content Curation & The Marketing Mix

Let’s take an example of Facebook. You might have hundreds or even thousands of friends on the social platform. But do see the posts from all of your friends at the same time, well is almost impossible to know about what each of your friends is sharing. So Facebook, introduced its algorithm update to bring the curated content of the friends you interact with. Similarly curating content over the web and integrating it into the marketing mix is now becoming popular.

Primarily because of the following reasons:

1)    Fewer resources required

Though it doesn’t mean that curation is free, it still requires curators to dig out content from the internet mine.

2)    Save time

Creating content requires you to have a proper framework for understanding the requirement to proofreading for content quality. This requires a lot of time. Curation, on the other hand, can help you dedicate the same time to uncover great content.

3)    Developing relationships

Curation is another great way to develop a connection with different brands. By linking and sharing the content developed by other organizations, you can easily get noticed. This gives you can chance to establish a relation with the brand and leveraging it for sharing your voice.

4)    The Human element

Surely search engines are a way to help you find content on the web. But a pair of human eyes viewing and sharing content also adds tremendous value. Take forums like Quora where people answer the questions posted by other users. This adds the element of human touch to the conversation, along with the discovery of useful content which might have otherwise been missed out.

5)  Building Authority

By curating content from top niche websites, you are bound to become an authority. With the result of increased website visits and subscriber base. 

[quoter color=”yellow”]The internet is a vast ocean of content so finding valuable content is a crucial task[/quoter]

Finding Great Content

The internet is a vast ocean of content so finding valuable content is a crucial task.  Spotify has over 30 million songs and 100 million users’ monthly users but even then there are soundtracks which have never been streamed. To solve the problem, Spotify acquired The Echo nest, a music discovery platform in 2014.

The same goes for you, how do plan to discover content. So, let’s dive into how you can find epic content on the internet and become a rock star curator.

Types of Content Curation Ideas

  • News aggregators

Also known as RSS (Rich site summary) reader, they were first launched in 1999 by Internet browser Netscape. One of the first popular sites using this technology was the New York times and today websites commonly use RSS feeds to give readers their latest content.

With the aggregation technology, the content of different websites is consolidated onto a single page, which reduces the time and effort required to hunt down new content. In addition to reading content, you also can retrieve the updated information as and when required. There is no dearth of news aggregation websites which allow you to aggregate content related to your targeted niche.

News aggregator websites include: Pocket, Feedly, Cronycle, Alltop, Popurls, Flipboard

  • Curation Platforms

Content curation platforms consistently help you find, organize, annotate and publish the content for your target market, so no more fear of missing out. Curation platforms can help you and your team of content creators and editors to manage and publish content successfully. There are a variety of curation platforms out there, so you’ll need to determine your objectives of selecting a platform.

Curation platforms include: Curata, Scoopit, Paper.li, Storify, Drumup

  • Follow Influencers

Influencers are the people who have an established fan base. Take, for example, Kim Kardashian; she has a loyal fan base. So, any product she endorses has the potential of becoming a massive hit. Tapping the content created by these influencers is also a way to target your audience.

Pro Tip: Using Twitter and IFTTT recipe to track influencer mentions. Select an influencer you want to target and IFTTT will help track that mention on Twitter. You can later re-use the content published by the influencer as a round-up post.

  • Social Bookmarking sites

Social bookmarking sites are used by people to discuss and share content they like. These sites also serve as a platform for discussion and provides you an edge over the discovery of content via an algorithmic search engine.

It is another way to give your content a human touch as these sites let you find how users feel about the particular piece of content. Get content inspiration, find out what resonates with your audience, what makes them laugh and share a content piece. With these sites, you can find the highest performing content of all time.

Social bookmarking sites include: Reddit, Digg, Newsvine, StumbleUpon

[quoter color=”pink”]If you can be that source of precise information, you are likely to become the leader in your industry[/quoter]

Over to You

2.5 quintillion bytes of data (which is equivalent to 2.5 Billion GB) is created every day. This data comprises of social media posts, tweets, images and WhatsApp messages to name some of the few. As 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the past few years, the need for expert curation is more than ever before.

If you can be that source of precise information, you are likely to become the leader in your industry.

Keep Curating awesome content!


About The Author:

Lavanya Loomba is a content writer and marketer. He covers topics related to content marketing and innovations in the world of social media. He also loves making cartoons and painting t-shirts in his spare time.

You can connect with him on Linkedin and also view some of his work here.