7 New Twitter Features (and 4 Others You May Have Missed)

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In an industry fixated on rapid growth, any slowdown in user acquisition or monetization sounds alarms. And Twitter, whether it likes it or not, has been sounding a lot of them lately.

After a few years of stagnant monthly active user growth and disappointing the market, Twitter has been on an upswing thus far in 2017 — beating investor projections by generating more money and adding more new users than initially anticipated.

In the face of a negative narrative, the company has been quick to take action and focused predominantly on changes geared toward the user — and it seems to be working. New Call-to-action

Over the last year, Twitter has made a number of changes, small and big, to drive user engagement and improve the overall onboarding and experience of the platform. But we know how tough it can be to keep up with these types of updates, which is why we put together a list of the more notable features and changes below. Marketers, take note.

7 New Twitter Features

1) The End of Vine … and the End of Periscope?

When technology companies are struggling to grow, as was Twitter for much of 2016, they will usually do one of two things — cut staff to make financial ends meet, or develop new innovations to attract and engage users.

In Twitter’s case, it did both — Twitter sunsetted Vine and launched an in-app live video streaming feature — thereby eliminating the need to stream from Periscope for many users.

Vine paved the way for the popular short-form and infinitely-looping videos we see on Snapchat and Instagram today (like this one), and in the fall of 2016, it was ultimately shuttered as Twitter shifted its focus to live video content.

Vines are still available to share and watch (and rewatch), but now, six-second looping videos must be recorded and shared directly to Twitter or saved to the creator’s camera roll.

Then, in December 2016, Twitter launched its own in-app live video streaming and recording function — effectively eliminating the need to live-stream from within the Periscope app.

Twitter hasn’t discontinued Periscope the way it did so with Vine, so users can still download the app and live-stream videos to their audience there. But these changes in such rapid succession disappointed a lot of avid fans and users — and reflected Twitter’s growing need to keep users within its app.

It’s no secret that video is no longer just popular — it’s also a requisite element of any successful social media platform. Twitter is trying to innovate its video creation, broadcasting, and sharing tools to give users the types of content they want — short-form, looping, and live broadcasts — to compete with other platforms, attract new users, and keep existing users engaged.

We haven’t seen Twitter jump on the bandwagon of creating an ephemeral video stories feature like most of the major social media platforms — yet. But we should expect more features and announcements — like Twitter’s deals to live-stream professional sports and breaking news — that signal its continued emphasis on video content in the future.

2) A New Layout

In June 2017, Twitter completely redesigned its desktop site and mobile app to make Twitter feel “lighter, faster, and easier to use” in response to user feedback:

Twitter’s user base has been slowly growing — and sometimes dipping — over the past few years, and these UI and UX innovations could help attract people to Twitter, while also preventing users from leaving it.

how-many-users-does-twitter-have_large.pngSource: The Motley Fool

Here’s a rundown of the changes:

  • Decluttered UI: Twitter now offers a sidebar menu where users can more easily navigate to their profiles, lists, and personal settings — instead of having to tap through the app more than once.
  • Real-time reply, retweet, and like counts: Users can now watch the engagement numbers with tweets increase in realtime within the app, instead of refreshing and reloading tweets.
  • Clearer typography and iconography: Twitter changed the in-app font, made some headlines bolder to attract attention in the busy feed, and changed the “Reply” button to a conversation bubble (so it didn’t look like a back arrow anymore).
  • Round avatars: Profile images are now round instead of square.

And here’s what these changes look like in action:

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Source: Twitter

Most of the changes were widely panned by users, but this is the internet, after all — and Twitter will never make everyone happy. Some users pointed out that cosmetic UI changes are not nearly as important as improving users’ abilities to report and challenge abusive language on the platform — and that’s next on our list.

3) More Comprehensive Anti-Harassment and Cyberbullying Features

One of the biggest complaints against Twitter is how easily harassment can spread and exacerbate on the network — and there was no better test of this hypothesis than political rhetoric surrounding recent global elections. Historically, tweets aimed at threatening or scaring individuals on Twitter have gone unfettered and caused a number of users to delete their accounts or even fear for their safety — as blogger Ariel Waldman has chronicled.

Twitter Rules prohibit the kind of abuse we mean here — threats, hate speech, bullying, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until as recently as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users report and stop abuse they were experiencing in real-time. Twitter has begun to respond to harassment and threats on the network with a series of features and services aimed a keeping people safe. These additions include:

  • Notification filtering: Users can specify which accounts they don’t want to receive notifications from. For example, you can filter out notifications from accounts without profile photos and with unverified email addresses.
  • Mute option: Users can mute specific keywords and phrases, and they can choose how long they don’t want to see that type of content.
  • Reporting transparency: Users now receive notifications when — and if — Twitter intervenes on an abuse report the user files.
  • Time-out: Users who are reported are sometimes temporarily put in “time-out” while Twitter investigates the report to prevent the further dissemination of abusive content.
  • Safe search: Machine-learning technology will prevent users from being served potentially abusive content when they search for tweets on the platform.
  • Hiding abusive tweets: Twitter has started identifying low-quality tweets from potentially abusive accounts so users see high-quality content first. The tweets will still be on Twitter — they’ll just be harder to find.
  • Preventing new abuse: Twitter has started preventing reported and flagged users from creating new accounts with the same contact information in an effort to prevent repeat offenders on the platform.

These updates are critical to ensuring Twitter stays a welcoming place for all users. In a leaked memo last year, former Twitter CEO Dick Costello underscored the importance of this move, saying:

I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them. Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.”

4) Moments for Everyone

Twitter introduced Moments — curated tweets about a single topic or story, all in one place — back in 2015. Moments allowed publishers and brands to pull together their tweets and tweets from other users about a topic to tell a story in one story collage — and in August 2016, Twitter opened up Moments to any user who wanted to create them. Here’s what they look like:

Now, whether you want to feature your own tweetstorm, content from other people on the platform, or both, anyone can easily make a shareable Moment to tell a story. You can go into the Explore tab (or the Moments tab on Twitter’s desktop site), and create a new Moment there. Or, you can find a tweet you want to feature and create a Moment while you’re scrolling or on your own profile:

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Moments present another opportunity for users to get discovered and shared on Twitter, so opening this publishing capability up to everyone was a smart move.

5) Explore Twitter

In January 2017, Twitter axed the Moments tab and created the Explore tab on the mobile app, which combined Twitter trends, Moments, and search — all in one place.

It was a simple new feature that combined features already in existence, but by putting these all in one tab, Twitter made it easier for users to find and engage with new content on the platform — and hopefully, stay in the app longer.

Here’s what it looks like (if you haven’t already noticed it):

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Source: Twitter

6) More Characters to Reply

Twitter made a big change to the way users can directly reply to one another. Whereas before, users had to @mention the account they wanted to reply to, the mention is now built directly into the reply button. This gives users more characters with which to reply, because they don’t have to type in the username and cut into their precious 140 characters. Check it out:

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This change has been met with some criticism, though — because users can’t specifically one-off reply to particular people. So if you’re included in a tweet with multiple other users, everyone will get a reply notification — even if the reply isn’t specified for them.

But while Twitter is giving users more room to express themselves, it might also give them the ability to communicate with too many other users — especially if bullies and abusers are replying-all to tweets.

7) Safer DMs

If you receive private Direct Messages from users you don’t follow, users now have the option to approve or deny the request to connect — and report the message if it’s inappropriate.

This feature is a win on a couple of levels. It helps users better screen for and identify abusive content — and choose if or when they want to engage. It also prevents the need for a tweet back-and-forth of asking someone to follow you before you reach out to them via DM. Instead, you can simply shoot them a message — and they’ll approve it if they wish.

4 More Twitter Features You May Have Missed

I wrote the original version of this blog post back in 2016 with a different set of new features, and wanted to make sure you still knew about those neat new(-ish) capabilities, too.

1) The 140-Character Count Loophole

As far as debates go, Twitter’s 140-character limit is about as contentious as the Oxford comma. Some say the character limit on tweets is essential to Twitter’s identity. It secures Twitter in place as one of the fastest available ways for ideas to spread. Others are ready to see it lifted, arguing that removing the 140-character cap would open Twitter up to a new and engaging range of content and possibly new users. One area where the pain of the character cap is particularly sharp is in adding media to your tweets.

By default, media links used to take up 23 characters in a tweet, which is about 16% of your allotted characters — no small portion. That said, images are a boon for interactivity on your tweets: HubSpot conducted a study and found that tweets with images resulted in 18% more clickthroughs and 150% more retweets.

Tweets_With_Images_Stats.png

Last year, Twitter announced that media (e.g., images, polls, videos) attached to tweets would soon no longer count against your 140-character count. The same rule would apply to the @handle when replying to someone else’s tweet.

This update makes a couple of changes to the way replies and retweets are handled. Users will no longer have to add a character prior to a reply — for example, “.@meghkeaney” — to ensure their reply is seen by all followers. Not to mention, users will be able to retweet their own content if they want to add a thought to a previous post.

2) Accessible Images

Back in October of 2015, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a public appeal to developers to submit ideas for product enhancements:

One of the ideas generated out of that invitation focused on making Twitter more accessible to users who are visually impaired. In other words, people using Twitter’s iOS and Android apps can now add alt text descriptions to images within tweets. Websites have long used alt text to help visually impaired visitors understand the messages conveyed by images, using assistive technology like a screen reader or Braille display.

The accessible images feature has to be set up at the user level, a drawback for it gaining mass adoption, but it’s easy enough to set up. In an Android or iOS device, go to your Twitter settings (the gear icon) and follow these steps:

  1. Tap Accessibility.
  2. Next to Compose image descriptions, turn that feature on.
  3. From there, when you add an image to your tweet just tap Add description to insert descriptive text.

Adding accessibility may seem like a smaller win, but it’s a best practice across the board for businesses and organizations looking to grow their audiences and do the right thing.

3) Native GIF Search

Even though this list isn’t weighted for significance, it took real willpower not to place this at number one. As someone whose reliance on GIFs is beyond description, this feature release was a big one for me. In 2015, people shared more than 100 million GIFs on Twitter. When you think about the steps it previously took to share an animated image on Twitter, that number is even more impressive.

Previously, you had to leave Twitter, search for the appropriate GIF on any number of GIF search engines, save that image, go back to Twitter, recompose your tweet, and finally, upload the image. Today, with Twitter’s new GIF feature, you just click a button and conduct the search there — no saving or uploading needed.

Gif Search on Twitter
Source: Twitter

(By the way, if you like GIFs, I highly recommend this post by my colleague. It’s a fascinating history and analysis on why exactly GIFs became so popular.)

4) The Switch to Uncropped Photos

Twitter may have started as a text-based platform, but images are a source of some of its top engagement. That’s why the news that Twitter had adjusted its image size requirements to not force-crop most images came with such praise. The resulting experience means that Twitter is more visual and engaging right off the bat. See the before and after shots provided by Twitter below:


Source: 
Twitter

Along with the uncropped photo update, Twitter also introduced a new view for multi-photo displays. This update allows users to see even more of the individual photos included in a collage.

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Source: Twitter

In all the punditry on the current and future state of Twitter, most of the narrative to this point has focused on the competition. Twitter’s response, however, has been largely focused on its users. While some of these updates may seem small, in aggregate, they signal a move to a much more intuitive user experience fed largely by user feedback. Time will tell if this focus on fan-favorite features amounts to a measurable increase in usage and revenue.

What do you think about Twitter’s latest features? What else would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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17 Examples of Fabulous Explainer Videos

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Feel intimidated by the notion of creating an explainer video? There’s no need to be — they just represent another excellent way to get your content out to your target audience.

Besides the really big brands that we are all familiar with, a lot of lesser-known companies and even small startups are using them.

Even if you believe your product isn’t “cool” enough to become a fancy, interesting explainer video, there’s probably someone out there with a problem that can be solved by what you have to offer.

Sometimes a quick, easy, explanation is just what someone needs to help clearly understand how your product solves a problem.

Download this free ebook for more examples of effective product videos.

Think you need a professional production team to create a worthwhile explainer video? Think again. Compiling an explainer video doesn’t have to be more complicated than putting together a slide deck in a Powerpoint presentation. You decide what to say, find some relevant graphics to jazz things up, and record a voiceover. 

Explainer videos should generally be 30-90 seconds in length, which translates into a written script of around 200 words or less in most cases. To get a good feel for crafting your own video, start by gathering some inspiration from brands doing it right. You’re bound to find something that resonates with you as a good example for brainstorming your own.

Here are 17 fabulous explainer videos across a wide variety of industries, media outlets, and publications to jumpstart your own project. You should have no trouble getting inspired to make an explainer video part of your marketing strategy.

17 Examples of Fabulous Explainer Videos

1) Unroll.Me

 

2) What is AI? (HubSpot)

 

3) PandaDoc

 

4) Yum Yum Videos

 

5) Dollar Shave Club

 

6) What is an API? (MuleSoft)

 

7) Mint.com

 

8) Spotify

 

9) How Deep is the Ocean? (Tech Insider)

 

10) SafeDrive

 

11) Final

 

12) Ethical Coffee Chain

 

13) Pinterest

 

14) BriefMe

 

15) Munzit

 

16) Stitch Fix

 

17) Water Mark

 

Seen any great explainer videos lately? Let us know in the comments.

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How Content Can Succeed By Making Enemies – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Getting readers on board with your ideas isn’t the only way to achieve content success. Sometimes, stirring up a little controversy and earning a few rivals can work incredibly well — but there’s certainly a right and a wrong way to do it. Rand details how to use the power of making enemies work to your advantage in today’s Whiteboard Friday.

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How content can succeed by making enemies

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today, we’re going to chat about something a little interesting — how content can succeed by making enemies. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute, I thought my job was to make friends with my content.” Yes, and one of the best ways to make close friends is to make enemies too.

So, in my opinion, I think that companies and businesses, programs, organizations of all kinds, efforts of all kinds tend to do really well when they get people on their side. So if I’m trying to create a movement or I’m trying to get people to believe in what I’m doing, I need to have positions, data, stories, and content that can bring people to my site. One of the best ways to do that is actually to think about it in opposition to something else, basically try and figure out how you can earn some enemies.

A few examples of content that makes enemies & allies

I’ll give you a few examples, because I think that will help add some context here. I did a little bit of research. My share data is from BuzzSumo, and my link data here is from Ahrefs. But for example, this piece called “There Are Now Twice as Many Solar Jobs as Coal Jobs in the US,” this is essentially just data-driven content, but it clearly makes friends and enemies. It makes enemies with sort of this classic, old-school Americana belief set around how important coal jobs are, and it creates, through the enemy that it builds around that, simply by sharing data, it also creates allies, people who are on the side of this story, who want to share it and amplify it and have it reach its potential and reach more people.

Same is true here. So this is a story called “Yoga Is a Good Alternative to Physical Therapy.” Clearly, it did extremely well, tens of thousands of shares and thousands of links, lots of ranking keywords for it. But it creates some enemies. Physical therapists are not going to be thrilled that this is the case. Despite the research behind it, this is frustrating for many of those folks. So you’ve created friends, allies, people who are yoga practitioners and yoga instructors. You’ve also created enemies, potentially those folks who don’t believe that this might be the case despite what the research might show.

Third one, “The 50 Most Powerful Public Relations Firms in America,” I think this was actually from The Observer. So they’re writing in the UK, but they managed to rank for lots and lots of keywords around “best PR firms” and all those sorts of things. They have thousands of shares, thousands of links. I mean 11,000 links, that’s darn impressive for a story of this nature. And they’ve created enemies. They’ve created enemies of all the people who are not in the 50 most powerful, who feel that they should be, and they’ve created allies of the people who are in there. They’ve also created some allies and enemies deeper inside the story, which you can check out.

“Replace Your Lawn with These Superior Alternatives,” well, guess what? You have now created some enemies in the lawn care world and in the lawn supply world and in the passionate communities, very passionate communities, especially here in the United States, around people who sort of believe that homes should have lawns and nothing else, grass lawns in this case. This piece didn’t do that well in terms of shares, but did phenomenally well in terms of links. This was on Lifehacker, and it ranks for all sorts of things, 11,000+ links.

Before you create, ask yourself: Who will help amplify this, and why?

So you can see that these might not be things that you naturally think of as earning enemies. But when you’re creating content, if you can go through this exercise, I have this rule, that I’ve talked about many times over the years, for content success, especially content amplification success. That is before you ever create something, before you brainstorm the idea, come up with the title, come up with the content, before you do that, ask yourself: Who will help amplify this and why? Why will they help?

One of the great things about framing things in terms of who are my allies, the people on my side, and who are the enemies I’m going to create is that the “who” becomes much more clear. The people who support your ideas, your ethics, or your position, your logic, your data and want to help amplify that, those are people who are potential amplifiers. The people, the detractors, the enemies that you’re going to build help you often to identify that group.

The “why” becomes much more clear too. The existence of that common enemy, the chance to show that you have support and beliefs in people, that’s a powerful catalyst for that amplification, for the behavior you’re attempting to drive in your community and your content consumers. I’ve found that thinking about it this way often gets content creators and SEOs in the right frame of mind to build stuff that can do really well.

Some dos and don’ts

Do… backup content with data

A few dos and don’ts if you’re pursuing this path of content generation and ideation. Do back up as much as you can with facts and data, not just opinion. That should be relatively obvious, but it can be dangerous in this kind of world, as you go down this path, to not do that.

Do… convey a world view

I do suggest that you try and convey a world view, not necessarily if you’re thinking on the political spectrum of like from all the way left to all the way right or those kinds of things. I think it’s okay to convey a world view around it, but I would urge you to provide multiple angles of appeal.

So if you’re saying, “Hey, you should replace your lawn with these superior alternatives,” don’t make it purely that it’s about conservation and ecological health. You can also make it about financial responsibility. You can also make it about the ease with which you can care for these lawns versus other ones. So now it becomes something that appeals across a broader range of the spectrum.

Same thing with something like solar jobs versus coal jobs. If you can get it to be economically focused and you can give it a capitalist bent, you can potentially appeal to multiple ends of the ideological spectrum with that world view.

Do… collect input from notable parties

Third, I would urge you to get inputs from notable folks before you create and publish this content, especially if the issue that you’re talking about is going to be culturally or socially or politically charged. Some of these fit into that. Yoga probably not so much, but potentially the solar jobs/coal jobs one, that might be something to run the actual content that you’ve created by some folks who are in the energy space so that they can help you along those lines, potentially the energy and the political space if you can.

Don’t… be provocative just to be provocative

Some don’ts. I do not urge you and I’m not suggesting that you should create provocative content purely to be provocative. Instead, I’m urging you to think about the content that you create and how you angle it using this framing of mind rather than saying, “Okay, what could we say that would really piss people off?” That’s not what I’m urging you to do. I’m urging you to say, “How can we take things that we already have, beliefs and positions, data, stories, whatever content and how do we angle them in such a way that we think about who are the enemies, who are the allies, how do we get that buy-in, how do we get that amplification?”

Don’t… choose indefensible positions

Second, I would not choose enemies or positions that you can’t defend against. So, for example, if you were considering a path that you think might get you into a world of litigious danger, you should probably stay away from that. Likewise, if your positions are relatively indefensible and you’ve talked to some folks in the field and done the dues and they’re like, “I don’t know about that,” you might not want to pursue it.

Don’t… give up on the first try

Third, do not give up if your first attempts in this sort of framing don’t work. You should expect that you will have to, just like any other form of content, practice, iterate, and do this multiple times before you have success.

Don’t… be unprofessional

Don’t be unprofessional when you do this type of content. It can be a little bit tempting when you’re framing things in terms of, “How do I make enemies out of this?” to get on the attack. That is not necessary. I think that actually content that builds enemies does so even better when it does it from a non-attack vector mode.

Don’t… sweat the Haterade

Don’t forget that if you’re getting some Haterade for the content you create, a lot of people when they start drinking the Haterade online, they run. They think, “Okay, we’ve done something wrong.” That’s actually not the case. In my experience, that means you’re doing something right. You’re building something special. People don’t tend to fight against and argue against ideas and people and organizations for no reason. They do so because they’re a threat.

If you’ve created a threat to your enemies, you have also generally created something special for your allies and the people on your side. That means you’re doing something right. In Moz’s early days, I can tell you, back when we were called SEOmoz, for years and years and years we got all sorts of hate, and it was actually a pretty good sign that we were doing something right, that we were building something special.

So I look forward to your comments. I’d love to see any examples of stuff that you have as well, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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20 of the Worst Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes We’ve Ever Seen

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“How long did you take to revise this?” “A couple of sec, I mean minutes … ”

“Did you use any editing tools?” “Yes … the red and green squiggly lines in Word.”

“Please tell me spell check is somehow broken. ” “ … I haven’t used that since 2008 … ”

Whenever the internet devours brands for making typos more cringeworthy than my parents’ joint Facebook account, I picture these conversations ensuing between writers and supervisors.

Because even though they have access to a stockpile of grammar and spelling tools, they still let typos or poor grammar creep into their copy.

Download our free writing style guide here to eliminate typos and grammatical errors from your own writing.

I empathize with these unlucky writers, though. Typos are inevitable. Sometimes, they tiptoe into my blog posts, and there’s nothing I can do about the embarrassment except lock myself in the nap room and wail into a pillow.

But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones. I couldn’t stop chuckling at these editing blunders.

So, although our hearts sting for these writers, we decided to share their hysterical typos and grammatical errors. Hopefully, they’ll forget the pain and laugh with us too.

20 Funny Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes

1) We’re having a little trouble imagining this.

imagine.jpg

Image Credit: 11 Points

2) Just found out The Purge actually happened.

hunters.png

Image credit: ViralNova

3) “When I grow up, I want to be a technincian!”

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Image Credit: WCPO

4) If you think about, it is original.

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Image Credit: Slice

5) Best headline since “Headless Body in Topless Bar”.

asdf.jpg

Image credit: The Guardian

6) Ironic Twitter shaming: a dish best served cold.

7) The few and the proud.

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Image credit: ViralNova

8) The one-two typo punch …

First, the poster:

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Image credit: JimRomensko.com

Then, the apology tweet:

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Image credit: The Chronicle of Higher Education

9) We wouldn’t take one.

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Image credit: Cheezburger

10) Did someone actually name their kid Sport?

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Image credit: Flickr

11) Well, at least they admit to their mistakes.

SpelMistk14

Image credit: Jazarah!

12) Did they edit this ad in a New York minute?

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Image credit: Engrish and Funny Typos

13) The ultimate silver lining.

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Image credit: ViralNova

14) Apparently, floor cloth won him seven Tour de Frances.

Rugs.jpg

Image Credit: Slice

15) Is it proper grammar?

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Image Credit: The Huffington Post

16) We’d buy it.

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Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

17) What would happen if you pressed no?

Exist.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

18) She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s talking about herself.

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Image Credit: ViralNova

19) We hear he’s a little dramatic under water.

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Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

20) Throwback to Googing things.

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Image Credit: Flickr

What’s the worst typo or grammtical error you’ve ever seen? Share your stories in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Is Facebook Messenger the New Email? 3 Experiments to Find Out

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Let’s just come out with it: Email is becoming less effective for marketers. It might not be dead yet, but it’s not exactly the shiny new channel it used to be. Just think about your own inbox — how many marketing emails are you subscribed to that you delete without opening? We thought so.

It was with this in mind that we started experimenting with messenger apps. Facebook Messenger boasts 1.2 billion monthly users — clearly there’s appetite for the channel. Could this be a replacement for email? We decided to find out.

Here are three ways we’ve experimented with using Facebook Messenger instead of email in our marketing, along with early results (Spoiler: Get excited).

#1: Using Facebook Messenger as a Content Delivery Channel

Our demand gen team sends out emails on a regular basis featuring new content offers our audience might be interested in. These content offers are typically gated behind a lead form. After completing the form, the prospect is able to access the content immediately, and we also send an email with a PDF copy attached for easy reference later on.

For those keeping track, email is used twice here: first to promote the offer, second to deliver the content. We wanted to cut out one of these email touchpoints, so we decided to send the following offer promotion email as a test:

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We gave readers two options: to submit the form and receive the content immediately and via email — the traditional way — or to skip the form and get immediate access to the content in Facebook Messenger instead. Approximately 20% chose this latter option.

We then sent regular Messenger broadcasts to the people who had opted in, suppressed them from email sends, and studied their behavior.

After four weeks, the engagement metrics of the two channels showed a clear winner.

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The Facebook Messenger broadcasts had an average open rate of 80% and average CTR of 13%. That was 242% and 609% better than our email controls, respectively.

Takeaway for marketers: As a content delivery and consumption channel, Facebook Messenger delivers in terms of engagement.

#2: Getting Event Attendees to Participate Through Facebook Messenger

Have you ever tried to send an email to event attendees with important information? If so, I’m guessing you didn’t see great open or clickthrough rates. When people attend a conference or another type of in-person event, they’re typically off email and in learning and networking mode.

But they do have their phones on them — to check the agenda, answer texts and calls from other people on site, and follow live social streams. We hypothesized that Facebook Messenger might be a better way to get event attendees’ attention during our Grow With HubSpot Melbourne event. We decided to include a link to Facebook Messenger in our attendance confirmation emails, as well as place physical Facebook Messenger scan codes on seats at the event. Attendees could simply scan to start receiving real-time information and updates via the app instead of email.

gwh-fb-messenger.png

We tried two primary use cases:

1) Sales bot. If attendees confirmed their attendance inside Messenger, we set up a bot that would send an automated message on behalf of their local sales rep. The message contained a HubSpot Meetings tool link to the rep’s calendar in case the attendee wanted to set up time onsite.

fb-sales-1.png

The results for this use case on the day of the event:

melbourne-results.png

The raw number of meetings booked isn’t astronomical, but the percentage by enrolled attendees is significantly higher than similar messaging via email. That percentage increases when we add in the number of meetings booked before the day of the event as well as afterwards. It’s also worth considering that these meetings — with highly qualified prospects — wouldn’t have happened if not for our Messenger usage.

2) Real time NPS. We asked attendees to rate their experience at GwH Melbourne via Messenger.

gwh-nps.png

The response rate was significantly higher than email controls.

Some other event use cases we’ve been trying out and that you might consider taking for a test drive:

  • View the event agenda in Messenger
  • Submit questions to a panel
  • Access the slides once the conference is over

Takeaway for marketers: Instead of using email to communicate with attendees onsite or direct them to take a specific action, try Facebook Messenger instead. One of Messenger’s greatest strengths is how it seamlessly connects offline and online engagement.

#3: Using Facebook Messenger in Place of Forms

Our team has a set budget for Facebook ads every month, which we typically use for lead generation. Our ads generally feature a piece of content interesting to our target audience. When someone clicks, they are taken to a landing page with a form. Filling out the form gives them access to the content immediately, and also triggers a follow up email with a PDF version attached.

This experience is less than ideal since the person has to leave Facebook to receive their content. We started thinking — what if the entire process, click to content delivery, happened in Facebook?

We tested out a path that used Facebook Messenger for the “form,” as well as the delivery mechanism. When someone clicked the ad, a bot would ask them the questions usually contained in our form:

fbm-form.png

Once the questions had all been answered, the bot then provided a link to the content within the message.

The results here were even better than we anticipated. We saw a staggering 477% reduction in our cost per lead, while lead quality only slightly decreased.

Takeaway for marketers: It might take a little muscle to build a Facebook Messenger bot to collect lead information, but the effort is well worth it. Use Facebook ads plus Messenger as a powerful one-two punch.

We’re big believers in the power of Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. Next up for us is a similar content delivery test in our North American market, studying how the order of questions impacts Facebook Messenger “form” completion rate, and creating a more seamless sync between the app and our HubSpot portal.

Have you been testing Facebook Messenger in your marketing? If so, what results have you seen? Share your experiments and insights with us in the comments below.

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MozCon: Why You Should Attend & How to Get the Most Out of It

Posted by ronell-smith

MozCon 2013 (left to right): Greg Gifford, Nathan Bylof, Nathan Hammer, Susan Wenograd, and myself

I remember my first MozCon like it was yesterday.

It’s the place where I would hear the quote that would forever change the arc of my career.

“The world is freaking complicated, so let me start with everything I don’t know,” said Google’s Avinash Kaushik, during the Q&A, after speaking at MozCon 2013. “Nine hundred years from now, I will fix what’s broken today. …Get good at what you do.”

Though I didn’t know it at the the time, those were words I needed to hear, and that would lead me to make some career decisions I desperately needed to make. Decisions I never would have made if I hadn’t chosen to attend MozCon, the Super Bowl of marketing events (in my opinion).

Walking into the large (gigantic) room for the first time felt like being on the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. I hurriedly raced to the front to find a seat so I could take in all of the action.

Once settled in, I sat back and enjoyed the music as lights danced along the walls.

Who wouldn’t want to be here? I thought.

Once the show started and Rand walked out, I was immediately sold: The decision to attend MozCon was the right one. By the end of the show, I would be saying it was one of the best career decisions I could have made.

But I almost missed it.

How and why MozCon?

I discovered MozCon like most of you: while reading the Moz blog, which I had been perusing since 2010, when I started building a website for an online, members-only newsletter.

One of my friends, an executive at a large company, had recently shared with me that online marketing was blistering hot.

“If you’re focusing your energy anywhere else, Ronell, you’re making a mistake,” he said. “We just hired a digital marketing manager, and we’re paying her more than $90,000.”

Those words served as an imprimatur for me to eagerly study and read SEO blogs and set up Twitter lists to follow prominent SEO authors.

Learning SEO was far less fun than applying it to the website I was in the process of helping to build.

In the years that followed, I continued reading the blog while making steps to meet members of the community, both locally and online.

One of the first people I met in the Moz SEO community was Greg Gifford, who agreed to meet me for lunch after I reached out to him via DM on Twitter.

He mentioned MozCon, which at the time wasn’t on my radar. (As a bonus, he said if I attended, he’d introduce me to Ruth Burr, who I’d been following on Twitter, and was a hyooge fan of.)

I started doing some investigating, wondering if it was an event I should invest in.

Also, during this same period, I was getting my content strategy sea legs and had reached out to Jon Colman, who was nice enough to mentor me. He also recommended that I attend MozCon, not the least because content strategy and UX superstar Karen McGrane was speaking.

I was officially sold.

That night, I put a plan into action:

  • Signed up for Moz Pro to get the MozCon discount
  • Bought a ticket to the show
  • Purchased airline and hotel tickets through Priceline

Then I used to following weeks to devise a plan to help me get everything I could out of the show.

The conference of all conferences

Honestly, I didn’t expect to be blow away by MozCon.

For seven of the 10 previous years, I edited a magazine that helped finance a trade show that hosted tens of thousands of people, from all over the world.

Nothing could top that, I thought. I was wrong.

The show, the lights, the people — and the single-track focus — blew me away. Right away.

I remember Richard Baxter was the first speaker up that first morning.

By the time he was done sharing strategies for effective outreach, I was thinking, “I’ve already recouped my expense. I don’t plan to ever miss this show again.”

And I haven’t.

So important did MozCon become to me after that first show, that I began to plan summer travel around it.

How could one event become that important?

Five key reasons:

  • Content
  • People & relationships
  • Personal & career development

I’ll explore each in detail since I think they each help make my point about the value of MozCon. (Also, if you haven’t read it already, check out Rand’s post, The Case For & Against Attending Marketing Conferences, which also touches on the value of these events.)

#1 – Content

You expect me to say the content you’ll be privy to at MozCon is the best you’ll hear anywhere.

Yeah, but…

The show hand-picks only the best speakers. But these same speakers present elsewhere, too, right?

What I mean by “content” is that the information you glean holistically from the show can help marketers from all areas of the business better do their work.

For example, when I came to my first MozCon, I had a handful of clients who’d reached out to me for PR, media relations, branding, and content work.

But I was starting to get calls and emails for this thing called “content marketing,” of which I was only vaguely familiar.

The information I learned from the speakers (and the informal conversations between speakers and after the show), made it possible for me to take on content marketing clients and, six months later, head content marketing for one of the most successful digital strategy agencies in Dallas/Fort Worth.

There really is something for everyone at MozCon.

#2 – People & relationships

Most of the folks I talk to on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis are folks I met at one of the last four MozCons.

For example, I met Susan E. Wenograd at MozCon 2013, where we shared a seat next to one another for the entire event. She’s been one of my closest friends ever since.

MozCon 2015: I’m chastising Damon Gochneaur for trying to sell me some links — I’m kidding, Google.

The folks seated beside you or roaming the halls during the event are some of the sharpest and most accomplished you’ll meet anywhere.

They are also some of the most helpful and genuine.

I felt this during my first event; I learned the truth of this sentiment in the weeks, months, and years that have followed.

Whether you’re as green as I was, or an advanced T-shaped marketer with a decade of experience behind you, the event will be fun, exciting, and full of new tips, tactics, and strategies you can immediately put to use.

#3 – Personal & career development

I know most people make decisions about attending events based on the cost and the known value — that is, based on previous similar events, how much they are likely to earn, either in a new job, new work, or additional responsibilities.

That’s the wrong way to look at MozCon, or any event.

Let’s keep it real for a moment: No matter who you are, where you work, what you do, or how much you enjoy your work, you’re are ALWAYS in the process of getting fired or (hopefully) changing jobs.

You should (must) be attending events to keep yourself relevant, visible, and on top of your game, whether that’s in paid media, content, social media, SEO, email marketing, etc.

That’s why the “Is it worth it?” argument is not beneficial at all.

I cannot tell you how many times, over the last four years, when I’ve been stuck on a content strategy, SEO or web design issue and been able to reach out to someone I would never have met were it not for MozCon.

For example, every time I share the benefits of Paid Social with a local business owner, I feel I should cut Kane Jamison (met at MozCon 2014) a check.

So, go to MozCon, not because you can see the tangible benefits (you cannot know those); go to MozCon because your career and your personal development will be nourished by it far beyond any financial reward.

Now you know how I feel and what I’ve gleaned from MozCon, you’re probably saying, “Yeah, but how can I be certain to get the most out of the event?”

I’m glad you asked.

How you can get the most out of MozCon

First, start following and interacting with Twitter and Facebook groups to find folks attending MozCon.

Dive in and ask questions, answer questions, or set up a get-together during the event.

Next, during the event, follow the #mozcon Twitter hashtag, making note of folks who are tweeting info from the event. Pay close attention to not simply the info, but also what they are gleaning and how they plan to use the event for their work.

If you find a few folks sharing info germane to your work or experiences, it wouldn’t hurt to retweet them and, maybe later during the show, send a group text asking to get together during the pub crawl or maybe join up for breakfast.

Then, once the show is over, continue to follow folks on social media, in addition to reading (and leaving comments on) their blogs, sending them “Great meeting you. Let’s stay in touch” emails, and looking for other opportunities to stay in their orbit, including meeting up at future events.

Many of the folks I initially met at MozCon have become friends I see throughout the year at other events.

But, wait!

I mentioned nothing about how to get the most out of the event itself.

Well, I have a different philosophy than most folks: Instead of writing copious notes and trying to capture every word from each speaker, I think of and jot down a theme for each talk while the speaker is still presenting. Along with that theme, I’ll include some notes that encapsulate the main nuggets of the talk and that will help me remember it later.

For example, Dr. Pete’s 2016 talk, You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter, spurred me to redouble my focus (and my learning with regard to content and SEO) on search intent, on-page SEO, and knowing the audience’s needs as well as possible.

Then, once the show is over, I create a theme to encapsulate the entire event by asking myself three questions:

  1. What did I learn that I can apply right away?
  2. What can I create and share that’ll make me more valuable to teammates, clients or prospective clients?
  3. How does this information make me better at [X]?

For the 2013 show, my answers were…

  1. I don’t need to know everything about SEO to begin to take on SEO-related work, which I was initially reluctant to do.
  2. Content that highlights my in-depth knowledge of the types of content that resonates with audiences I’d researched/was familiar with.
  3. It makes me more aware of how how search, social, and content fit together.

After hearing Avinash’s quote, I had the theme in my head, for me and for the handful of brands I was consulting at the time: “You won’t win by running the competition’s race; make them chase you.”

MozCon 2013: Avinash Kaushik of Google

This meant I helped them think beyond content, social media, and SEO, and instead had them focus on creating the best content experience possible, which would help them more easily accomplish their goals.

I’ve repeated the process each year since, including in 2016, when I doubled-down on Featured Snippets after seeing Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets, by Rob Bucci.

You can do the same.

It all begins with attending the show and being willing to step outside your comfort zone.

What say you?

Are you MozCon bound?

Count me in!

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