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The Biggest Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

Marketing Podcast with Mike Stelzner
Podcast Transcript

Mike Stelzner headshotToday’s guest on the podcast is social media marketing expert Mike Stelzner. He is the CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner and the producer of one of the largest social media marketing conferences, Social Media Marketing World.

Stelzner has been immersed in the world of social media marketing for many years. And since it’s a space that’s constantly changing, I’ve invited him back onto the podcast to talk about some of the biggest shifts in social media for 2020.

Whether it’s Alexa skills and flash briefings or the potential impending fall of Instagram influencers, Stelzner has insights to share about all of the social trends that should be on your radar screen. If you’re using social as a channel to market your business (and you should be!) this episode is a must-listen.

Questions I ask Mike Stelzner:

  • What are your overarching social media trends for 2020?
  • Are people fatigued with social media?
  • What’s going on with influencers?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Where Stelzner sees Instagram Stories fitting in for small business marketers.
  • Why all businesses need to pay attention to long-form video content.
  • The value of investing in community development.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Mike Stelzner:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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Transcript of The Biggest Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

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Transcript

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto, modern, easy payroll benefits for small businesses across the country. And because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at gusto.com/tape.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Michael Stelzner. He is the founder of Social Media Examiner and the producer of Social Media Marketing World, a great conference for pretty much anybody in marketing. So Mike, thanks for joining me.

Mike Stelzner: Thanks for having me back, John.

John Jantsch: Yeah, back. This is… I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m having people on third and fourth time. I bet I had you on for your book White Papers, didn’t I?

Mike Stelzner: I don’t really know, but I think this has got to be at least my third time on the show.

John Jantsch: I really… I remember… When would that have been? 2008?

Mike Stelzner: The paper thing? Man, that’s a long time ago.

John Jantsch: I know.

Mike Stelzner: We’re talking like 2006-ish, 2007.

John Jantsch: Well, I’ve been doing the show that long, so I’m going to have to go look that up. I’m probably the only person who has had you on to talk about that on a podcast and then back about trends in social media 2020.

Mike Stelzner: I think that’s probably a fair statement.

John Jantsch: And you’ve been doing your podcast for how long?

Mike Stelzner: Seven and a half years almost. It’s crazy.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it’s funny, I’m already getting us off topic here, but it’s just amazing how much podcasting has taken off and I’m actually calling audio content kind of a trend for 2020, even though it’s been around. I think it’s just going to just go crazy in 2020.

Mike Stelzner: I’m with you 100%. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Spotify bought Gimlet and Anchor and Apple also reinvigorated all their apps, so I would say for sure there’s a big, big move towards new people starting to listen to this stuff you and I have been doing for a long time.

John Jantsch: And where do you come down on stuff like the Alexa skills and flash briefings and stuff? Do you think a lot of mainstream podcasters are going to start using those as distribution channels?

Mike Stelzner: Well, to be honest with you, we tried it for nine months and we saw almost nothing. So either we were really way too early to the game and we’re talking, we decided to shut that down about six months ago. I don’t think most people are going to use the smart speakers for the kinds of things that they do here. So until I think people start using it for something other than utilitarian purposes, I’m not sure that’s going to be as big a deal as podcasting.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because, again, when I started podcasting, it was so hard to get people, to show people how to listen to a podcast, which obviously now that’s every smartphone comes equipped with it and there’s all these places like Spotify. But I have to think that at some point the smart speakers are going to get easier that way. But again, you might’ve been early.

Mike Stelzner: Well, what’s fascinating is most people don’t even know you can ask. If you have an iPhone, you can ask it to tell you the news and it will ask you who’s your preferred news provider, NPR, Fox, or CNN. They’ll give you the news. Most people don’t even know that.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right, you’re right. So let’s talk about 2020. You follow… you interact with the brightest minds in social media, you follow it yourself, you write about it yourself. So I wanted to kind of do a show on just where you see we’re going. So I’ve got a couple of specific things. We already got into one, but are there kind of your overarching trends for 2020 for social media?

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, there’s a couple of things. First of all, we’re seeing rising ad costs, on Facebook in particular and Instagram, mostly because right now during the holidays, but also because it’s going to be an election year. So you can see a lot of ad inventory be taken up by political candidates, which is going to… and you also have a limited amount of inventory and a rising number of advertisers. Mark Zuckerberg recently said seven million active advertisers are on the platforms competing for limited space. So the ad costs are rising, and as a result a lot of marketers are looking for organic activities. And the areas where we’re seeing a lot of organic growth is on Instagram and also on YouTube.

Mike Stelzner: So I think we’re seeing the rise of very short form video in the case of stories on Instagram and Facebook and also a rise of the number of people utilizing YouTube. You’ve got over a billion daily active users on YouTube with an average session duration of like 27 minutes. So I think both of these things represent big organic activities that are in the realm, the scary realm, John, of video marketing.

John Jantsch: Where do you see those two things fitting in? Like where does Instagram stories fit in for a typical marketer?

Mike Stelzner: Well, first of all, there’s lots of opportunities with Instagram stories because they show up at the top of the feed when you first open the app and in the middle and it’s just… For the small business marketer, it’s just a matter of showing up regularly and just talking about things like, “Hey, here’s what’s going on in the office. Or here’s the new product idea we’re working on, or here’s how we make what you buy, consumer X.” Or even day in the life kind of stuff, so these very short 15 second videos really are getting a lot of play on Instagram and it’s just a top of mind thing.

Mike Stelzner: As you know, John, one of the biggest challenges in this competitive space is being someone that others think of when they’re looking for a solution. You want them to think of your business. On the long form side of it, the benefit to YouTube is that people go there with the intent of watching video. Where an Instagram, they don’t always go there with the intent to watch video. So the benefit of YouTube is it’s a search engine and a lot of people forget about that.

Mike Stelzner: So if you can create answers to questions that people have, prospects have, and they’re searching YouTube and they find your video, then all of a sudden they might subscribe to your channel. They might go a little deeper and check out whatever it is that you do. So I think of YouTube as almost like the new Google search because a lot of people are watching video.

Mike Stelzner: And by the way John, this is part of a mega trend when you couple it with what’s going on with Disney+ and Apple+, two major multibillion dollar companies getting into the video streaming game. I think we’re seeing a mega trend here, which is longer form video consumption becoming like… We’re really in the age of long form video consumption, and it’s going to be one of the things that we’re going to look back on in history and say this is the age of literally digital television like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

John Jantsch: Yeah. You know, one of the things that a lot of people miss too is because so many people go to YouTube to ask it a question, I mean it’s like how do I do something is like the main thing, the related searches there for videos, it just a gold mine for SEO because that’s the stuff people are asking about and that’s the stuff you ought to kind of cement your entire content marketing of all forms around I think.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, and an important point here, a lot of people like us that have been in this industry for a long time that have been bloggers like you and me, John, videos are the future of blogging. It really is. You can create video blogs that people will spend more time with than they will ever on your website reading your actual blog and when your face is in there, then they get to know you and like you, and those are some of the core principles to people doing business with you.

John Jantsch: Yeah and I think the days of somebody seeking out somebody’s blog, unless it’s on just a really very specific niche or something and reading long form content is probably behind us aren’t they?

Mike Stelzner: I would say yes, but I still get a lot of people, almost a million people a month coming to our blog or out there, in an industry that’s constantly changing and they’re searching. But the scary side of this, John, as you probably know, more than half of all Google searches result in no click. And this is because of that company, Amazon, you mentioned. The Alexa product is competing with the Google products and Google wants to give the single answer. We’re moving towards an era where traffic from search is becoming harder, therefore diversifying into video is another advantage there because it’s like a leg of the stool that so many of us have not built out yet.

John Jantsch: It drives me crazy sometimes. I’ll go out there and search for something and it takes me about five clicks on Google to get to the destination that I’m trying to get to.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah. You have to scroll down a lot if you’re on a mobile phone. It might be like, you could be in the number one slot, but you still have to scroll a couple screens because they’re doing everything in their power to provide you the answer so you don’t have to click.

John Jantsch: Well, and even beyond that. After this show publishes and you Google Duct Tape Marketing podcast, they’ll show our episode in the top search results because they figure that’s what you’re looking for. But guess where it takes you? To Google Play, not to the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, which I’m happy for the listener, but you know, they’re keeping people away.

Mike Stelzner: There you go. It makes sense. I mean, they’re just like Facebook. They want to keep people on property.

John Jantsch: Everyone loves payday, but loving a payroll provider, that’s a little weird. Still, small businesses across the country love running payroll with Gusto. Gusto automatically files and pays your taxes. It’s super easy to use and you can add benefits and management tools to help take care of your team and keep your business safe. It’s loyal, it’s modern. You might fall in love yourself. Hey, and as a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. So try a demo and test it out at gusto.com/tape. That’s gusto.com/tape.

John Jantsch: So let’s talk a little bit about how you see the maturing of social media. Again, we were both talking about this stuff when Twitter was founded, when people were going, “Oh, this is the next thing.” How do you see how social media has matured, just become a part of marketing, becomes a foundational element of a business’s plan? Where do you think we are in that?

Mike Stelzner: Believe it or not, I think we’ve gone back to where we were when we started. It’s kind of like things have come full circle. If you remember, John, back in the day with Twitter and with Facebook, there was no images, there was no video, it was just text. And Facebook is kind of driving everything back towards that by encouraging people to be active inside of groups. Why? Because they can mine that content, right? And they can use that content to sell to advertisers.

Mike Stelzner: So the key thing that a lot of social platforms are talking about is an engagement metric, right? So they want you to take some sort of an action, typically in an ideal world to share and/or a comment. And that’s kind of how it was back in the day. It wasn’t necessarily about you spending a lot of time necessarily consuming media on the platform. It was more about like you connecting with family, friends and it’s kind of moving back to that.

Mike Stelzner: And I think that that’s a good thing, because it’s going to be a little harder for people, like the bad marketers, to ruin the experience, right? Because that doesn’t scale, right? The idea that you’re going to have to engage with people does not scale. And as a result, those who are willing to invest in community development, which is obviously interacting with prospects and customers, are going to be the winners in the long run because in a world where somebody can create a fake persona and act like there’s somebody that they’re not and drive people to sites that are not real, it’s going to be the real people that are going to stand out and are going to thrive. And that’s going to be good news for small businesses because I think if we go back to the way it was, which was true interaction, then that’s how we develop and nurture relationships. So it’s literally coming full circle in my opinion.

John Jantsch: Do you feel that some people are fatigued by social media? Not the good uses you just described, but just the clutter?

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, for sure. The reality is that Facebook doesn’t even reveal the kind of data they used to reveal before because they’re aware of this, right? In the past, they used to talk about how many daily active users are on Facebook and how many were on Instagram. And now they just kind of combine it all together in one bar. And I think it’s because beyond the big seven or so social platforms, you’ve got all these little private communities that people are moving more towards.

Mike Stelzner: So we’re seeing obviously people interacting in private Facebook groups, we’re seeing people interact in apps that nobody’s ever heard of before, like Mighty Networks. And I think what’s happening is the aspect of community is strong, but the question of where you house your community is becoming more and more difficult, because I think consumers are more aware of the fact that there’s a lot of… like if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product, right? We’ve heard this a million times. So they’re moving to platforms where maybe they have to subscribe, but they know that their information won’t be used against them.

John Jantsch: You mentioned bad marketers. So let’s segue to messaging apps. Where do you see, obviously Messenger inside of Facebook, almost everybody’s got some messaging app on their phone that comes native, and then there’s a whole slug of all these other ones out there, where do they fit?

Mike Stelzner: Well, the hype cycle on this is crazy, John, because you know we do this annual report every year. And two years ago the interest in messenger bots was completely off the charts. Last year, the interest in messenger bots was not, it dropped dramatically. And we’re about to do our study here in a couple of weeks in early 2020 on this very same topic again. And I think what happened, a lot of people were sold on this idea that messenger bots are like email, but with better open rates. That lured them in, right? But then when they began working with bots, they began to realize, whoa, this is way more complicated than I thought. And that’s the truth and the reality of bots is that you practically have to learn a programming language, even if it’s drag and drop, and it’s super complicated and Facebook changes the rules all the time on what you can and cannot do.

Mike Stelzner: So I think bots can be really, really effective. But it’s just like anything else. It’s probably one of the most complicated things you can do so you have to probably hire an agency or consultant to do it for you, and that’s where it gets a little bit squirrely. We’ve tried two different bots twice and we ended up shutting both of them down because it was just this big old rabbit hole that we didn’t want to get into. Have you heard better things from others or have you also experienced?

John Jantsch: No. I think that they’re just extremely hard to do well. And if they’re not done well, they’re worse than not being done.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah. And the natural language processing isn’t there, so what ends up happening is you can type in a sentence, but it won’t understand what it is or it’ll wrongly interpret it. So I think we’re going to get there in the next couple of years as artificial intelligence on the natural language processing gets really, really good. But right now, there are some great tools out there and we have a whole track on it at our conference, but it is definitely one of the more complicated things that marketers are doing right now. And I think there’s upside, don’t get me wrong, but I think the hype was pretty crazy off the charts.

John Jantsch: I was listening to an NPR show and I won’t remember any of the names of the people, but they were talking about people who were very deep into this, into the technology of this industry. And they said, one of the scientists said that one of the dirty little secrets that people don’t realize is that where we are with a lot of AI right now is a lot of AI is actually being interpreted by humans in sweat shops all over the world. And that’s… the promise of this technology is just not there yet.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, it’s kind of like… To be honest, what it is right now, it’s like when you call those toll free numbers and you have to push one to do this and two to do that. That’s literally where bots are right now, except instead of a one or two on your screen, it’s giving you buttons that you push and it’s just logic tree stuff. But where it gets really, really complicated is the fact that there’s all these regulations and rules put on by Facebook in particular that you’ve only got so much time to respond. I mean it can get really, really kludgy. So yeah, that’s definitely an area that I am not an expert in, but I’ve interviewed a lot who are experts, and my data shows that it’s probably one of those things that definitely could provide value, but you better have a decent sized team to focus on this because it could take you off focus of other more important things.

John Jantsch: So let’s talk about more important things like influencers. How do you see, again, the model of going out, finding people who have huge followings, big name brands out there, celebrities, I mean that’s gone on forever. Has social media democratized that a bit? In other words, a person that’s got 50,000 Instagram followers that you’ve never heard of and they’ve just been able to really dig into that platform and get some engagement is now an influencer. Talk to me a little bit about how you feel about that aspect of social media.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah. First of all, Instagram influencers in particular are in a world of trouble right now. John, if you haven’t heard, they removed in certain countries and in America I think it’s… I don’t know if it’s rolled out everywhere or if it’s in testing, but I don’t see the hearts anymore on the Instagram posts. I see it on my own, but my audience doesn’t see it. You just see if it was liked by… it just says and others really if I recall. I think what that’s doing is, because there’s so many young people on Instagram and they understand that this is definitely hurting the mental space of a lot of young people, but they also understand that this also could democratize, if you will, Instagram a little bit where everyone is perceived as equal.

Mike Stelzner: I don’t think the world of influencer marketing is going to survive in the long run in the way it is on Instagram. But I do believe that influence is important. So if I can explain that, it’s not about how many followers the world sees that you have, so the social proof side of it, isn’t I don’t think as important as it was. I think instead what’s important is whether or not you as a creator of any kind of content can yield influence on your audience, which has always been the case, right?

Mike Stelzner: John, you’ve got people that listen to your podcast and they hear about the things you talk about and they choose to act because you said that you believe this to be true. That is you yielding influence to your audience. And the real question is like whether or not that is an industry that can be monetizeable. I prefer instead to help people figure out how to yield their own influence on whatever platform they’re on and use that to help them grow their business, not rely on the influence of others. So I don’t believe necessarily, but I know it works. Don’t get me wrong. I know it does work for certain kinds of businesses as an accelerant, but I think it’s kind of one of those dangerous slippery slopes you’ve got to be careful of.

John Jantsch: So I’m trying to get Pat Mahomes to come on and talk about the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. That didn’t mean anything to you because you’re a San Diego Chargers fan probably.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, it didn’t.

John Jantsch: Total blank. Sorry. He was last year’s MVP in the NFL. He’s the Chiefs quarterback. But clearly, you gave me within about half a second there that you were not an NFL fan.

Mike Stelzner: I’m not, but I’m sure that he’s amazing. But yeah, exactly. Like that’s the whole point, right? Like remember when Guy Kawasaki had millions of followers and everybody wanted Guy Kawasaki? Just a name that a lot of our audience is familiar with. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I mean, like the honest truth is that we all want people to advocate for us, and some are worth paying, but that concept has been around forever. Affiliate marketing, right? I mean that’s what built the back of affiliate marketing. So I just think that the influencer marketing world has got to really… I think it’s one of those things everyone’s running from right now because the bad rap of what’s come out of YouTube and Instagram, and I’m not talking about it because I don’t believe it’s important. I believe influence is important instead.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Remember magazine ads from the ’50s with the movie stars with a cigarette. I mean that was pretty much the same thing, wasn’t it?

Mike Stelzner: I would imagine so, yeah. I mean, and trust me, it does work. Obviously if you’re a super, super well known individual in the audience that you’re trying to target with, yes, I mean the idea of leveraging someone who is a celebrity. Celebrity endorsement is probably not dead ever, but the question is how do we label a celebrity? That’s really what we’re talking about.

John Jantsch: Yes. That’s a whole show by itself, isn’t it, Mike?

Mike Stelzner: Could be.

John Jantsch: You have, depending upon when people are listening to this, January 2020 probably-ish and beyond, but you have another edition of Social Media Marketing World coming up in San Diego. What is this the ninth year?

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, I think it’s our eighth and it’s March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We’re really excited. It’s a different world for sure. I don’t remember, you’ve been to our event at least three times, right? Or four times or something like that?

John Jantsch: Five or six.

Mike Stelzner: Were you there at the very first year or did you come?

John Jantsch: I think I spoke there for the first four or five, six years, yeah.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, so it’s really… It’s changed a lot since then. It’s got 16 tracks now covering everything you could possibly imagine, all the major social platforms. This year one of the cool things that we’ve got is four different tracks on video, video creation, video marketing, YouTube for business, and live video. Because that’s a big trend a lot of marketers are trying to understand and how to wrap their brain around. But yeah, thousands of people from all over the world will be coming as they always do, and many thousands also attend virtually. I’m pretty positive… yeah, it is definitely year eight.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And without a doubt, I’m sure there are metrics to back this up, the premier social media show for sure.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah. Last year we had 4700 people there and another couple thousand virtually. So definitely not the biggest marketing conference in the world. That would probably be like, I don’t know, maybe Inbound or something, but for sure for social media we’re the biggest.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Or Sales Dreamforce, if that’s considered a marketing one.

Mike Stelzner: Yeah, of course. It’s its own little animal.

John Jantsch: Pretty good sized one. Well, Mike it was great catching up with you as always. Appreciate you stopping by. People can find you at socialmediaexaminer.com and that’s of course where all the links to all the Social Media Marketing World and your report that you mentioned is always a great read every year.

Mike Stelzner: One last thing, if you have room in your dial, in addition to John’s podcast, you can check my podcast out also, which I don’t think I mentioned the name. It’s just called Social Media Marketing.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Appreciate it, Mike. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road soon.

Mike Stelzner: Thanks, John.

18 Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach

Now that pretty much everyone on the planet gets the importance of content marketing it’s time to throw a wrench in the works. To remain effective with your content marketing efforts you must constantly evaluate, change and evolve!

I know you may not want to hear that, but content only provides value when it’s useful and the consumer always determines what useful looks like. As more and more content marketers experiment with content form, length, frequency, mode, delivery, and style the consumer pallet for content continues to mature and evolve and you must do so with it. content marketing

I’ve been participating in content marketing for about fifteen years now, long before we called it that, but I’ve always tried to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the reader.

My first efforts were articles placed in directories and shared in an ezine. (How’s that for some nostalgia) In 2003 I started blogging here and that’s driven a great deal of my growth for over a decade.

Over the years my email newsletter has become more of a place to filter, aggregate and share other people’s content in snack sized versions. I produced my first eBook in 2004 or so and now feature ten, including some I’ve licensed from other writers.

We now feature guest blog post two and sometimes three times a week and I contribute blog style articles to about a dozen publications on a regular basis. Social media has obviously opened new doors in terms of sharing and generating new forms of content.

I believe the future of content marketing, however, rests in our ability to evolve to a more personalized form of creation and delivery where the end reader participates in the curation and creation of the content they request from marketers.

This next step will require even more from content marketers if they are to continue to deliver value in an saturated field of more and more content. I reached out to some well-known content marketers and asked them to share how their content marketing thoughts had evolved over the last few years.

Their responses are both fascinating and informative.

Enjoy!

Online content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still on providing value, but this has been honed even further. I see businesses being more strategic about the type of content they publish online, to build the communities they want. There’s more long term strategy in the content they produce. I see businesses blogging less often but with deeper content to create strong evergreen content relevant to their business. I see others sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to connect with the right people. A few years ago providing value might have been enough to get traction to impact your business, but it’s also very important to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships. Combining the two is essential today. There’s just too much noise, too many people publishing the same thing. And of course you need a visual marketing strategy to go hand in hand with your written content if you want to really take advantage of social media reach today.

Cindy King
Director of Editorial
Social Media Examiner

Different people in your target audience (whomever that audience may be) have varying preferences for content format, platform, approach, etc. I always knew this to be true, but in the past two years I’ve really embraced the concept that there is no such thing as all-powerful content. No magic bullet. No reliable home runs. Consequently, I’m striving to create more and more content types native to more and more content platforms, so that there is something from me in the style and format that’s preferable to each person in my tribe. That’s why I’m doing more podcasting, videos, ebooks, slideshare and just about everything else. Instead of trying to do one thing extraordinarily well, I’m trying to do many things very good. It’s not easy, but content can’t fully succeed as the tip of the spear – you need the whole spear.

Jay Baer
Convince and Convert

In the last two years, I have changed my ideas about blogging. I used to do more video posts with tutorials but I’ve switched to posting very long text posts with a lot of screenshots as my primary blog post and then occasionally add in video posts. I’ve found that having a lot of screenshots is great for people who are scanners. Even though my video posts were usually around 3-5 minutes in length, not everyone wants to sit through them. My blog posts are typically between 1000-2000 words which is much longer than I used to write when I had written posts. I’m also focusing this year on posting 2-3 times per week on my blog rather than just 1 time per week. It doesn’t always happen but I do like when I can post more often because it allows me to post a little more variety of content. I can post one in-depth technical post about Facebook or social media, and then also post something slightly different about business motivation or more general marketing or even something more personal about my journey. I’ve found that people have really responded to my personal posts – they don’t always get the biggest amount of traffic but they definitely get the most comments and I think they are great for connecting with your readers.

Andrea Vahl

Over the last two years, I’ve attempted to add more contrast to my content. It has often been said that content is king. However, with so much content out there it can all start to blend together so I’ve been focusing on making contrast king. This way, my readers look forward to what’s coming next. There’s more anticipation and surprise and, as a result, more attention and conversation is produced.

Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid

1. Publishing on weekends – CMI now publishes posts on Saturday and Sunday, as we’ve noticed that the posts get a bit more attention with less competition on those days. 2. Audio/Podcasts – Last year, we launched our first podcast and have seen amazing results. In the anticipation of more opportunities to get access to iTunes (ala Apple CarPlay), we are in the process of launching a podcast network as part of our core content offerings. 3. More In-Person Events – A decade ago, we were under the impression that social media might lead to people less likely to travel to events. Actually, the opposite has happened. With more networking going on via the Internet, people are actually craving more in-person, face-to-face time. So over the past two years we’ve added an event in Asia Pacific, as well as five additional events in North America.

Joe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

We’ve not really changed much at all with regard to our content during the course of the last couple of years. Since launching our corporate blog, we’ve always focused on just one thing: our audience. We try to write content for the blog that is informative, educational and which can help marketers (our audience) do what they do more efficiently, effectively and with fewer headaches. We try to stay on top of trends, tools, and must-know, must-consider things as marketers develop and execute their integrated marketing strategies. Much like you, we understand that relationships today are built with information, and by giving it away (information), people come to trust and rely on us as a go-to source for whatever it is they need. I use just one phrase as a barometer (and I use this when I’m on the road speaking as well): How do you know if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself just one questions: Is it good for people. If so, then you’re doing it right. I believe that applies to every facet of your content marketing and lead gen initiatives: website, landing page campaigns, blog, social, email, and is applicable both online and off.

Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing

“At Social Media Examiner our approach to content has not fundamentally changed in the last five years with two exceptions. We still publish 1000+ word articles that are extensively edited by a team of at least 6 editors. However, the first major change is the use of images. We custom design Facebook open graph and Twitter card images for our high profile articles to help them appear better in social. This means we have a designer create a nice image with words that will compel more clicks and shares. Secondly, we have upped the frequency of our original content from six times a week to ten. This means publishing two articles per day on most days.”

Mike Stelzner
Social Media Examiner

The last two years have been a time when we’ve experimented a fair bit with our content on numerous fronts including: 1. we’ve seen our longer form content do very well so have experimented with what we internally refer to as ‘mega-posts’ that are more comprehensive guides to larger topics. These posts are generally 2000+ words (and have gone as high as over 5000 words). While this isn’t what we publish every day we’ve tried to throw them into the mix ever few weeks and have been rewarded with great sharing, traffic and comments. 2. I’ve experimented increasingly with repurposing posts in different mediums. This has included using content previously published on the blog as slideshares and republishing older posts on LinkedIn and Google+ (usually with updates). I’ve also done it around the other way by publishing content that was still in a ‘first draft’ format to LinkedIn to get reader reactions before publishing it to the blog. 3. On ProBlogger we’ve also slowed our frequency down slightly and have been experimenting with ‘themed weeks’ where we tackle a larger topic over a series of posts over 5-6 days. This means we’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and build momentum. These theme weeks have been very well received. 4. The other major change for me has been the way I’m sharing content. I’ve put a huge effort into Facebook (on Digital Photography School) where we’ve gone from auto-posing new posts to 5-6 manual updates every day. The results of this have been amazing for us – while others are seeing reduced results with Facebook we’ve seen significant improvements in our organic reach, engagement and traffic driven from Facebook.

Darren Rowse
ProBlogger

I’ve become even more convinced of the power of brevity.

Dan Pink
To Sell Is Human

I just made a change… this week! After 5+ years of writing two posts a week, I’m now publishing content every day. It wasn’t so much that I thought “more is better” — the old way was good for a while, too. But then it became stale and I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Just as important, I felt like I wasn’t serving my readers well. The new blog has a lot of more frequent, shorter content, as well as a new series of Reader Stories and Profiles to highlight some of the great people in the community. So far, I’m very happy with the change and I think the readers are too.

Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity

I tend to go to longer content in social media and shorter content in blogs and direct response. I’m not sure why other than I use stories in social media and those tend to go longer. I don’t know that I’m using content for just education about ‘how to’ — but education about who I am and how I serve, how I live and how I see the world.

Carrie Wilkerson
Barefoot Executive

I stopped sending newsletters monthly that were long and had multiple subjects to it. I found that they were not getting read. Now I send brief single subject emails weekly with very enticing titles to get open, click thrus and shares. This has resulted in much better open rates and easier content generation.

Barry Moltz
barrymoltz.com

More Long Form Content We are gravitating away from shorter more informal “blog” posts and are investing much more in creating lengthier, more authoritative articles. There’s a glut of blog content of the short style, and while it may be shared on social media widely, it also tends to have a short shelf life. Longer, more in-depth pieces on evergreen topics tend to deliver a better ROI on the investment (time or money) in an article. In other words, if you’re going to write an article, you might as well make the extra effort to make it rich in detail and fantastic! It’s not unusual for Small Business Trends to publish pieces I’ve personally written or we’ve commissioned from others, at 1,500 – 2,000 words each, several times per week. (We publish around 50 articles per week, since we are an online magazine.) We don’t have a steady diet of long pieces, but we do a greater percentage of them today than two years ago. Here is why we do more long-form content. We find that people AND search engines tend to favor well-written, in-depth pieces. For instance, Google recognizes Schema markup for in-depth articles. But even if you don’t know what Schema markup is or don’t want to bother with it, you may just find that longer content helps your site’s engagement because (a) people tend to spend more time on your site reading longer pieces stuffed with useful information; and (b) they are more likely to explore the rest of your site, not just consume a short snack and immediately go away. Also, a page with a lot of quality content on a specific topic tends to naturally rank well in search because of the sheer quantity of information for the search engine spiders. That means more people may find your article — and your site — via search. And perhaps hire you or buy from you. However, everybody has their own style, and every site is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all. I recommend that people experiment. See if long-form content works for you.

Anita Campbell
CEO and Publisher
Small Business Trends

My approach is much different now than in years past. When I first started out with my blog in 2006, I posted ten to twelve times per week, then a few years later, I brought on contributors in order to scale the blog, while I focused on writing for business media outlets. Now, I rarely publish on social networks and only write articles six times each year when I have new research I want to push out to the marketplace. Part of this is because I believe the marketplace is changing and part of this is because I burned out from posting so much. I have so much going on now that I would rather focus my content production when I need to get something out there rather than random articles.

Dan Schawbel
Author of Promote Yourself

The biggest change for me has been that there are more outlets to share my content on. Specifically I think of Instagram. In the past the only way to share what I was seeing out in the world was in a blog post. Flickr has always been around as someplace to upload photos, but that is where it ended. There was no real community. But, using Instagram I can take a photo, tag the location and then write as little or much as I want and share it out to all other channels. I love having that flexibility and functionality right in my pocket anywhere in the world. I no longer have to take out my laptop to create and share.

C.C. Chapman

“Social media has changed the way I approach the content I create. Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced our attention spans and at the same time increased the amount of “noise” we have to wade through, in order to get to the “signal.” As a result, I am creating more visuals and making any written content more succinct. I’m using images to gain attention, graphics to convey my message, and even my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is just 194 pages, spread out over 30+ concise chapters. In short, less truly is more.”

Andy Beal
CEO of Trackur

I’ve changed it all. I write once a week or so for chrisbrogan.com, instead of once or twice a day. Instead, I write my newsletter once a week, and write for private communities multiple times a day. I’m sharing a peek from outside, but only the faithful gets the payload.

Chris Brogan
Publisher of Owner Magazine

So, if you’ve made it to this point why not share thoughts on how your content marketing is evolving!

1 The Future of Social Media

Marketing Podcast with Mike Stelzner

social media future

photo credit: jjutt via photopin cc

The title of today’s post is one that I could write on a monthly basis. What’s next in social media is a topic that seems to create a great deal of angst in marketing circles.

I suppose the reason is that in some fashion social media has changed the game of marketing in ways that feel foreign to most and it’s not done changing. In fact, the only constant is change and evolution and that creates confusion. Seems like once a social media expert figures out how to tell people the best way to use Facebook, poof, it all changes.

In back to back emails I received solicitations to learn a) Why Facebook is Dead and b) How to Make a Killing on the Coming Facebook Gold Rush. So, it’s no wonder the future of social media seems confusing.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visited with Social Media Examiner founder Mike Stelzner. We talked about how he’s successfully promoted his big, live event Social Media Marketing World (disclosure: I’m speaking at the event) held in March in San Diego and we talked a bit about the future of social media.

Frankly, I think Mike and I agree that the future of social media for the typical small business hasn’t changed much at all. The big social networks are going public and answering to the cry of stockholders to show ever increasing profits by creating another promotional channel for big brands. Social media for the small to mid size firms, however, has always been and shall remain one of the best places to gain exposure for great content. If the social networks forget that completely there won’t be any reason to use the network.

Shares, likes, embeds and retweets are the currency of marketing in social media and always have been. Marketers like to call this earned media, but no matter what you call it, it doesn’t happen without share worthy content. In fact, share worthy content makes your advertising or paid media more effective as well.

So, the future of social media is integration! Social media drives convergence and in some ways makes all of your marketing efforts more effective when properly viewed as an integration and audience building tool set.

7 Simple Formula to Propel Your Business

Marketing podcast with Mike Stelzner (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Launch - Mike StelznerFor this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I interviewed Mike Stelzner – founder of the wildly popular Social Media Examiner and author of Launch – How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition.

Mike uses a no nonsense and pretty matter of fact approach to describe one of the most powerful ways to build a business in the new marketing reality we live in. Mike’s Elevation Principle Formula pretty much sums up what many successful marketers are doing these days – whether they realize it or not.

The formula GC + OP – MM = G or Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth. The concept of content as a core marketing strategy is one that most business accept anymore, but the addition of other people to systematically spread the word and the subtraction of blatant marketing messages is what trips many up.

Once you start producing great content (or perhaps even before) you need to actively build a network of folks that might take an interest in helping your spread the word. Like it or not this is done best by first figuring out how you can help them meet their objectives. Take an active interest in the needs of your network and you’ll find that they will take an active interest in your objectives as well.

There’s nothing that complicated about Stelzner’s formula, but simple and easy are not the same thing. This approach takes work, every day, but it’s one of the most powerful and profitable way to build a business.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or