How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas


Personas? I already know who my audience is, so do I really need to create one more document that no one will likely use?

Like all content marketers, you are probably crunched on time and always looking to trim unnecessary processes. But you shouldn’t think of personas as one of those “nice-to-have” tools that will be abandoned as soon as you build them. Having documented personas, even in their simplest forms, will not only help you crystallize your ideas, but also serve as a single version of truth for everybody creating content for your organization.

We’re here to take the stress out of persona development – and help make them as practically useful as possible. Read on to learn the essential steps for creating and applying content marketing personas more successfully.

What are personas, and why do you need them?

As defined by Ardath Albee, a buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.

Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants, which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.

Furthermore, you personally may have a handle on this information, but does everybody who is creating content in your organization have that same vision of your ideal audience? Documenting your personas, even if it is done in a quick way, is key to keeping everybody focused on the same audience.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Ardath Albee has developed a dedicated training course on how to develop audience personas. Visit CMI’s Online Training and Certification Program page to view her lesson for free, as a preview of our full training program.

Are personas the same as demographic profiles?

When you think of your audience, you may first think of it in demographic terms. Naturally, you’ll want your personas to include the most relevant demographic data points (e.g., business type, job title and function, geographic location). However, while demographic data is used primarily to group audience members by what they have in common, personas enable marketers to hone in on key differentiators that your business can tap. For time-crunched content marketers, this ability to focus in on only the data that will help make your content more relevant and actionable is invaluable.

How do you build a content marketing persona?

Persona development is a customized process, as it is meant to help your team address its unique marketing challenges and opportunities. However, to get started on the right track, here are some things to consider:

  1. Start to picture your ideal customer:
  • Who is she?
  • What’s her job title?
  • What kind of company/industry does she work in?
  • What might her typical workday look like?

The answers serve as the foundation of your persona.

  1. Consider the specific roles and responsibilities she might have in relation to your business’ buying cycle – and how those needs might evolve.

For example:

  • What challenges/frustrates her most about her job?
  • What needs gaps might she be looking to fill to alleviate some of that frustration?
  • How far along is she in her consideration process?
  • Is she a primary decision-maker or does she need to run things up the chain of command?
  1. If it’s helpful, consider using any key details on her content preferences and consumption patterns that you have available.

For example:

  • How does she prefer to access information?

    • Are there content formats with which she prefers to engage?
    • Does she prefer to access content online, via a mobile device, or through other channels/platforms?
    • Does she get most of her information during work hours or at home?
  • How much information might she want to receive, and how often?

    • How often is she exposed to relevant content/information as she goes about her typical day?
    • How often does she log on to social networks? Which ones?
  • Who/what influences her content consumption?

    • Who does she trust to provide the content she consumes? Industry analysts? Vendors? Thought leaders? Friends and colleagues?
    • Does she get information through word of mouth within her business community?
    • Are there internal or external events that might trigger certain content consumption patterns?

The answers to these questions can help you identify ideal content topics, types, and channels that may move her closer to making a purchase.

However, it’s essential that you consider how your content marketing efforts might benefit from the information you gather. Remember: If you don’t have a specific way to turn a particular data point into an actionable customer insight, it’s best to leave it out of the persona.

TIP: You can fill in the blanks in the template below (from CMI’s workbook: Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program) with a summary of the key information you’ve gathered for your persona – or create a similar form with the information that’s most useful for your business. Remember to add images and give names to your personas to help you and your team think of these buyers as real people – not just a piece of business.

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Click to enlarge

Lastly, remember that it’s critical to document your persona, and share it with everybody on your team. To help keep your ideal audience member front and center, consider printing and placing it in a visible spot so her needs are continually top of mind.

How do you source accurate customer data for your personas?

Are you uncertain how to answer the previous questions? Fortunately, there are many ways to learn more about your buyers’ needs, motivations, content preferences, and typical purchase behaviors, including:

  • A/B testing: Testing your existing content can provide quantitative insights into what works for your target audience and what doesn’t.
  • Progressive profiling: This technique uses smart lead forms and directed questioning to gather audience insights that grow more detailed over time.
  • Current content consumption patterns analysis: Analytics data such as page views, time on site, downloads, newsletter open rates, and bounce rates can provide insight on where your audience’s top needs and interests lie.
  • Conversations with your sales team and/or mining your CRM system: These team members are on the front lines of customer interactions, so chances are they have plenty of insights they can share.
  • One-on-one interviews: Nothing beats the ability to get information directly from your customers and prospects.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Here are some additional resources on finding the audience information you need for persona development:

How many personas should you create?

The number of personas will ultimately depend on the number of distinct audiences you intend to target with your content marketing. But keep in mind that just because two target consumers serve different functions in an organization or have different reasons for considering your company’s solution doesn’t necessarily mean you need to create a separate persona for each one.

In her Content Marketing World 2014 presentation on personas, Adele Revella contends that the only reason to build a new persona is when it allows marketers to create something more effective, more compelling, or more persuasive for a buyer.

As Adele explains, even if you have two distinct audiences with two distinct buyer profiles (e.g., the CMO and the CIO of a company), if their decision criteria or insights (i.e., those turning-point factors instrumental to winning them over) are primarily the same, you may be able to use one persona to create content that will meet the needs of both buyers.

However, if you uncover an insight that resonates with one group but not the other, you should consider developing a distinct persona around it as it represents an opportunity to gain a content marketing advantage.

Remember, as Joe Pulizzi points out, it’s incredibly difficult to monetize an “audience of everybody.” He cautions that the more audiences for whom you need content, the more you risk spreading your resources too thin and watering down what you are able to create. This reduces the potential impact of your content and makes it more difficult for your business to achieve its marketing goals. So, it may be best to focus your content efforts on one audience first – ideally the one you need the most help engaging – and then incorporate other personas after your content marketing pilot program has found its footing.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: For additional guidance on identifying the personas you should prioritize, check out Jey Pandian’s 10-step guide, Create Precise Buyer Personas With SEO Data

Other things you should know about personas

Personas need to be updated: Once you have built your core personas, you’ll likely be referring to them often – even for years to come. The problem with this, though, is that you may be continuing to rely on the information long after it’s lost its relevance.

Personas should be shared with other departments: While developing personas is primarily a marketing exercise, make sure to document and share this information with other teams in your organization. In particular, it may be worthwhile to share your personas with your sales team, as well as with any new hires in your company – personas can help them become acquainted with your customers and prospects on a deeper level. But remember: In the age of social media, anyone in your organization could be engaging with potential prospects and customers, so it’s useful for everyone in your organization to be working from the same information.

TIP: Consider creating two versions of you persona: a detailed version for content creators and marketers, and a shorter version for the rest of the organization.

Map personas to the buying process for more strategic content creation: Your personas provide a snapshot of who your buyers are and where they are in their buyer’s journey. But they don’t necessarily tell you how their content needs might change as they progress to the next phase of that journey. That’s where the process of mapping can help.

When mapping your buyer personas, you will want to examine all the stages that each persona will likely go through along her buying journey, from start to finish, and identify the objectives, activities, and informational needs she may have at each stage. As an example, take a look at the buying process map template TOPO co-founder Craig Rosenberg created for his CMI Online Training course on using personas for better sales and marketing alignment:

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Click to enlarge

Once you’ve mapped the steps in your buyer journey, you can plug in specific content ideas for communicating with your personas as they reach each stage — as Craig has done in his second template, below:

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RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Check out the following resources for additional guidance on aligning your buyer personas with your content marketing efforts:


Content marketing works best when you understand – and write specifically for – members of your audience. Meticulously crafted buyer personas can help you identify their interests and motivations, communicate with them on their own terms, and keep them top of mind throughout every step of your content marketing process.

Do you have additional tips for developing and working with buyer personas? We would love for you to share them in the comments below.

Have additional questions on creating and leveraging buyer personas? The CMI Online Training and Certification program provides detailed guidance on all the processes involved in developing and deploying content marketing successfully. Learn more now.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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68 SEO Content Tools, Trends, and Tips for B2B and B2C Brands


Time-strapped, budget-conscious B2B and B2C marketers can’t afford to make unwise choices with SEO and content marketing.

You won’t find a do-everything-for-me software product, but you can make excellent progress by continually asking these questions:

It’s tough to answer all of the questions if you aren’t sure how to deal with the first question – do we understand SEO?

Marketers love SEO because it seems like they don’t need to “pay” for the website traffic derived from SEO – at least not like they do with advertising. Most SEO expense is tied up with people resources – internal wages and fees for freelance writers and consultants.

Website traffic is critical for B2B marketers – 63% say it’s the metric they review more than any other to evaluate success, according to CMI’s B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America. Thirty-nine percent of B2B marketers also cite SEO rankings as a key metric. Similarly, 62% of B2C marketers monitor website traffic and 39% view SEO rankings as important metrics, according to CMI’s B2C Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America.

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If website traffic matters to you, the following SEO tools and content marketing principles and tips can help you make good decisions and use your marketing dollars well.

What does your website bring to the table?

You can research keyword phrases all day, but ultimately the chosen words and phrases will make the difference.

Some business executives with whom I speak honestly believe they can just pick whatever words appeal to them. They shouldn’t. Keywords should be selected based on your website’s strengths and weaknesses, including how well they match keyword relevance, and searcher intent, including:

  • Existing content
  • Planned content
  • Website age
  • Domain name (It helps to include a keyword or phrase.)
  • Website structure (whether search engines can index the content)
  • Page URLs (Use dashes to separate three to five words.)
  • Inbound links
  • Ability to add SEO page titles
  • Meta descriptions (helpful if they include clear calls to action)
  • Amount of website traffic for competitive keywords (Google Webmaster Tools provides some details you might not see in Google Analytics.)
  • Relevance of keywords used to reach your website
  • Current rankings (Your website’s ability to rank well for keywords will affect your SEO strategy.)
  • Website design and navigation (including mobile)
  • Calls to action (to leverage organic and other traffic)

Go low and grow keywords

Should you use a keyword phrase that receives 10,000 monthly searches or 2,000? Sometimes, you’re much better off using a keyword phrase searched less than 2,000 times a month – and maybe even as little as 100 to 500.

Given the number of other results on a search engine page, you might think that low search traffic for a keyword phrase is not likely to generate any website traffic. But you’re not just targeting one phrase in your content.

Even if you focus on something like “CRM solutions,” the presence of that phrase and other words on the subject in the content itself can give rise to any assortment of keyword phrase searches, including synonyms and close variations.

It simply doesn’t make sense to pursue a keyword phrase that’s searched 5,000 times when you don’t even rank No. 199 for it today. Could you pull it off? Sure. It may require several pieces of related content, not just one article.

For keyword research, use SEO tools like Google’s Keyword Planner through AdWords, Keyword Discovery, or Wordtracker as well as other specialized tools like Übersuggest and SECockpit.

The following example from Google’s Keyword Planner offers a sense of how often some keyword phrases related to CRM software are used and how suitable they may be for a business.

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Pay a writer

Whether you rely on in-house talent or freelancers, you need someone to write SEO content that can be reused in email, social media, SlideShare presentations, etc. Good copywriters don’t just write well; they shape and guide content.

SEO titles

You can enter 72 characters including spaces in a page title. Don’t waste them by using your company name or a navigation label like Our History. Use keyword phrases in the title.

You still can separate keywords with commas, but using a headline format is more common (and looks better, too, when SEO titles appear among the search engine results and social media). Maybe take a blended approach. I sometimes use SEO phrases after a colon. It’s an easy way to showcase the most critical phrase early in the SEO title. Here are a few suggestions (primary keyword phrases in bold):

  • Bathroom Vanities for Your Home (The presence of “home” can help produce other high rankings for a number of keyword phrases.)
  • Sweaters for Women: Women’s Clothing, Tops
  • Compression Molding Presses: Powder Compacting, Heated Platens

Longer writing

I get that some marketers hesitate to fill pages with too many words because they don’t want to turn off website visitors. Or they fear that the content will educate the audience too much and give them no reason to call or complete a contact form. But long content can complement the design. If your content is short, search engines aren’t as likely to rank it well.

Based on your SEO-related business needs, you can focus on several writing options, including:

  • Write short, hope for the best.
  • Write long and break up the text about your products and services with notable quotes, subheads, images, charts, etc.
  • Mention calls to action high on the page.
  • Create a growing set of how-to evergreen articles on specific topics that target specific keywords.

Years ago, online marketers favored a minimum of 250 words per page, and then consensus seemed to be 500. Lately, experts say at least 1,000 words are needed to maximize SEO content – which is what I recommend, too.

Work your target keyword phrase into the SEO title, the URL, on-page headline, and throughout the content. Find natural opportunities to incorporate the phrase (no need for overkill).

For more data and insights, check out The Ideal Length for Blog Posts, Tweets, and Everything Else in Your Marketing.

Seek inbound links

It’s frustrating to hear over and over that you just need to create great content and SEO will take care of itself. It’s naïve. Your content must be pitched or found before anyone can think about sharing it. Only a few people may see your original 1,200-word blog post if you’re not using a keyword phrase that your website’s authority is strong enough to support. You can help influence your website’s search rankings over time by obtaining links to your site from other sites.

I’m a big fan of Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. He’s effective at creating content that attracts links.

He’s a master at SEO, link building, and all things marketing. On his Quick Sprout blog, you’ll find countless posts that generate links, SEO rankings, and thousands of comments. He also attracts links by showcasing infographics and extensive guides like The Definitive Guide to Conversion Optimization.

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Like Neil, your team can create valuable content that people will want to share.

Here are some simple ideas that may inspire you to create content that people may link to from their blogs and other websites.

You can present them as long blog posts or other website content that’s immediately available to visitors. Or, take these or other concepts and turn them into a four-page PDF that anyone can download if they provide a name, email address, and phone number. Although a PDF can be gated content, you can improve your odds of ranking well by including a free excerpt (or several excerpts) that can be indexed by search engines. Consider maximizing your content by summarizing key points in an infographic that others might link to from other websites.

The following suggestions may help you think of some content topics that you can develop to encourage others to link to your website.

B2B Content Ideas for SEO

  • Manufacturing in 2015: Best Insights, Tips and Innovations
  • 12 Ways Businesses Fall Short With Investment Strategies
  • How to Put the Best Applicant Tracking Systems to Work

B2C Content Ideas for SEO

  • 10 Best Holiday Travel Destinations for Families in 2015
  • Don’t Buy the Fitness Hype: Set Your Pace with Practical Meals, Exercises
  • Gone Forever? 20 Fashion Trends from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s

To influence SEO, you can build inbound links by:

  • Promoting your content through websites, email campaigns, social media, advertising, and business relationships
  • Writing for online publications (Get a link to your full piece or bio.)
  • Registering with industry online directories
  • Reaching out to influencers (see 6 Tips for Influencer Marketing from an Influencer)
  • Asking related blogs, newsletters, and magazines to link to your content
  • Reviewing competitors and other websites to scope out the link sources they already found and following up with those sites to post your content (If you’re researching competitors and industry websites, the MOZ Open Site Explorer is a good place to start.)

Measure SEO the right way

Some businesses still look at search engine rankings to define part of the ROI. I check search engine positions to chart progress in view of other data, but it’s not the best way to assess ROI. Here are some suggestions on how to measure SEO effectively after you establish search engine visibility, visitor, page view and other performance goals:

  • Create a how-to guide for SEO as it relates to content marketing and track how many leads are created in a year. You can even assign a value to each lead by estimating how many leads are needed to land a sale. For example, if it takes 20 leads to close an average $10,000 sale, each lead is worth $500.
  • Tie your efforts to marketing automation products like HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On software, and Infusionsoft, which help grow and manage details about new and existing email contacts (including whether new leads are based on organic searches).
  • If you’re not collecting an email – and simply giving away content – you can still monitor a website PDF and other downloads through Event Tracking.
  • Use call tracking services offered by Mongoose Metrics, Marchex, LogMyCalls, and others that can tie calls to organic searches.

Use tools for technical and competitive analysis

Brands can get insights about SEO trends and capabilities of major enterprise SEO tools and platforms with this free gated resource, Market Intelligence Report: Enterprise SEO Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide. It’s a good way to size up leading vendors that help marketers manage, understand, and use vast amounts of SEO data.

Other useful SEO tools include:

Here are some additional perspectives on search engine optimization:

What techniques and tools work best for you? How do you set and revise your SEO content strategies based on what you need to accomplish?

Want to expand your content marketing best practices? Start with these two free e-courses, which are part of CMI’s comprehensive Online Training & Certification Program. It contains over 19 hours of must-know strategies, tactics, and best practices, delivered by leading experts. Sign up now.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

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This Week in Content Marketing: Media Serves Two Content Masters, Brands Serve Just One

media-serves-content-masters-podcast-coverPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this 75th episode of PNR’s This Old Marketing, Robert and I celebrate “mobilegeddon” by explaining how Google’s new search algorithm favors brands and publishers that are committed to serving as “go-to” sources of content. We also ponder how content marketing will evolve in 2015, and identify an important advantage brands have over publishers. We question the American Society of Magazine Editors’ decision to back off of its hard-line stance toward native advertising and ponder the implications of BuzzFeed killing several articles due to advertiser complaints. Rants and raves include a seriously flawed take on marketing automation and the rosy future for monetizing content painted by Time Inc.’s new CEO. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing  example from The Caslon Company.

This week’s show

(Recorded live April 21, 2015; Length: 1:01:29)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

1. Content marketing in the news

  • Google update is only affecting mobile search results (4:37): Search Engine Land provides a Q&A on Google’s latest algorithmic change – dubbed “mobilegeddon” – which affects how it will display search results on mobile devices. Search results on desktop devices will not be affected, contrary to what Robert and I reported last week. This article is paired with the next one from Moz.
  • How Google’s evolution is forcing marketers to invest in loyal audiences (6:16): Rand Fishkin from Moz says the evolution of Google’s search algorithm is increasingly favoring websites that are “go-to” resources for their audiences. He advises brands to focus on cultivating a loyal audience with consistently valuable niche content, which is what Robert and I have been saying on this podcast all along.

  • Ways content marketing is going to change in 2015 (8:40): John Rampton, in an opinion column for Forbes, outlines seven of the most obvious and significant ways content marketing is changing this year. Robert and I are surprised that very few trend articles, including this one, focus on audience development. We also discuss why small companies have a big advantage over large brands in creating amazing experiences for their customers.
  • Native advertising softens hard line on native ads (25:19): The American Society of Magazine Editors, which has barred magazine editors from writing advertorial content, has surprisingly softened its stance in a new set of guidelines. I disagree with this decision, and explain why the model adopted by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal is the preferred way to avoid conflicts of interest between the editorial and ad sides of the business. Robert points out why this model also clarifies the rules of engagement for marketers.
  • BuzzFeed deleted three posts due to advertiser complaints (31:34): BuzzFeed recently released the results of an internal audit, which revealed that it deleted three articles because of advertiser complaints. In each case, staff writers had written negative posts about current or past advertisers. Robert and I reveal why brands don’t have to play by the same rules as traditional print and digital publishers and explain why that’s a significant advantage.

2. Sponsor (36:59)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by Widen Enterprises, a digital technology company that specializes in digital asset management. Widen is offering another new report authored by Robert Rose, Digital Assets Should be Agile, Not Fast. Today, a growing number of marketers are dancing to the tune of agile marketing. Agile teams, assets, and processes can create collaborative content, better brands, and faster content marketing. But what often gets lost is the distinction between agile and fast. Learn more at


3. Rants and raves (40:24)

  • Robert’s rant: Distinguished professor Thomas Davenport’s opinion piece in the CIO column of The Wall Street Journal focuses on what automation will do to marketing and marketers. He predicts that creative efforts in the near future will be partially assisted by automation, and that high-level marketing decisions will be made by software. Robert vehemently disagrees. This article is paired with the following article from CMSWire.
  • Robert’s rave: In this article, CMSWire explores the growing sophistication of technology, which may soon be able to partially automate the production of some content. The publication then asks several content marketing experts for their opinions on this potential development. They unanimously agree that technology will never replace human judgment and creativity. Robert strongly agrees, and explains why marketing automation data is not an end unto itself. He then points out what marketers must do to remain remarkable and create amazing customer experiences.
  • Joe’s rave/rant: In an interview with DigiDay, Time Inc.’s new CEO, Joe Ripp, predicts that the giant publisher will soon be able to start selling readers products. I agree; we’ve been talking about this idea on the podcast for some time now. However, I disagree with Ripp’s focus on micro-payments, which I view as an antiquated model. I also disagree with Ripp’s opinion that “quality content will always prevail,” and I explain why.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (51:32)

  • The Caslon Company: From 1911 to 1914, B2B ad agency The Caslon Company published a magazine entitled The Graphic Arts: A Magazine for Printers and Users of Printing. It was focused on helping its clients use graphic design and advertising effectively. One outstanding article tells the story of the American Sewer Pipe Company, which developed sewer pipes made out of clay. The manufacturer knew it would face an uphill battle convincing city engineers to accept this new technology. So, it created a magazine that contained thought leadership articles about new scientific approaches to sewer technology, human interest articles, and case histories. It employed photographs and illustrations to explain technical concepts, and even included letters from its subscribers – an early example of user-generated content. It was mailed to a carefully compiled list of 5,000 city engineers. To measure its success and enable sales inquiries, American Sewer Pipe included a postcard in each issue. The publication was so successful that it was quoted in trade magazines and at conventions, and its circulation quickly grew to 8,000 readers in its first year of publication. This is a remarkable turn-of-the-century example of a company that used excellent content to gain acceptance for its new technology.


For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

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Use Data to Help Your Engagement Conundrum


Too many marketers look at content engagement as an art form. They fail to validate their content strategy and content topics against their customers’ needs and wants. LinkedIn’s Jason Miller recently echoed this thought:

“What keeps me up at night is wondering if we are too ahead of our market in our content strategy.”

Content marketing is often conceptualized as the overlap between what the audience is interested in and what the company wants to say. Yet more often than not, marketers measure and value the company  side of this Venn diagram to a much greater extent than the audience side.


What they end up with is company-centric rather than customer-centric content. How can we as content marketers step up our game to better assess the customer side of the diagram?

You also should cultivate data to truly deliver content that addresses both what your brand wants to say and what your audience is interested in.

Create context and use it

Buyer personas should form the backbone of every content marketing strategy. These prospect profiles enable you to congregate the data related to your audience segments – their specific needs, preferences – with the data related to buying behavior involved in purchasing your product.

Personas are particularly helpful in B2B marketing to remind us that we’re not selling to businesses but that we’re selling to people.

Fortunately, many data sources can help us keep up with individuals’ changing context, including:

  • Demographic data – personal details (name, age, ZIP code, etc.)
  • Firmographic data – professional characteristics (role, organization size, etc.)
  • Social media data  – what they say online and whom they influence
  • Lead scoring – their interactions with your organization
  • Interest data  –  the intent exposed from what they have read on your platforms

There are a range of software platforms and means to collect these insights: A simple lead-capture form with fields including name, company, role, etc., would be sufficient to capture demographic and firmographic data. To understand your audience’s online behaviors, look at social media monitoring tools such as Brandwatch or Hootsuite. Use lead-scoring tools offered in every mainstream marketing automation solution including Pardot, HubSpot, and Marketo. Finally, interest data – the newest source – is something we’re pioneering at idio.

Of course, it’s no good just collecting this stuff – you need to act on it.

  1. Consolidate the information to give your organization a real-time view of key individuals and segments.
  1. Use this insight to optimize your lead generation around the right prospects.
  1. Personalize content and propositions.

Measure and iterate

Kraft’s Director of Data, Content, and Media Julie Fleischer brought this methodology home last year at Content Marketing World. Kraft’s content marketing now generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and a four-times-better return on investment than targeted advertising.

These returns are possible because of Kraft’s rigorous commitment to:

  • Collect content performance data
  • Analyze the data for insight (i.e., which content topics resonate with its audiences)
  • Execute its content marketing against the new insight by rapidly iterating the content types and themes


The feedback loop created by Kraft’s content engine enables the company to crack the engagement conundrum, while measuring the same traffic, viewership, and engagement metrics as everybody else does.

A data-driven perspective means you can identify which content topics are resonating with your audience, then optimize and iterate your efforts accordingly.

Go intelligent

What members of your audience choose to read is highly indicative of the hopes, fears, dreams, and interests that drive their purchasing decisions. Think about it in your own life: You clicked on this article because you have some interest in the topic of engagement as it relates to content marketing.

Of course, one click isn’t enough to build an accurate picture of you, but if we track your reading arc on CMI we soon could build an increasingly accurate picture of which topics interest you and use that to identify your current concerns and needs (engagement, content marketing, benchmarking, etc.)

Capturing the full picture of your audience’s engagement, like Kraft does, requires you to start before your audience ever sees the content. Using proper metadata, tags, etc., consistently enables your brand to track more than traffic – you can track whether your content strategy delivers what your audience needs and wants.

Tracking readership-based metadata tags and traffic enables you to identify gaps in your content coverage, as well as saturated topics. For example, CMI may find that content with metadata including words such as “benchmarking,” “engagement,” and “content marketing” are popular with its readers, but content tagged with “content audit,” “personalization,” or “WordPress” is less popular. Now, CMI can go back to its content strategy and creation to produce content that better addresses the revelation of the metadata tracking.

Kraft tags its web content and tracks more than 22,000 attributes based on the audience’s behaviors and engagement. With 100 million visitors to its web properties annually, this measurement necessitated the integration of its content and data management platforms.

You can track your database contacts against their URL click activity (and related metadata) to immediately create an interest profile or tag cloud of the most-read topics for each prospect or customer – no need to dig into the in-depth details of each person’s reading profile.


The best content marketing is neither a perfected art nor an exact science, but a combination of both. By always keeping at least one eye on data, you are better positioned to deliver not only what your audience wants but what your brand needs – an engaged audience:

  • Identify data already available to profile your audience segments – Use existing information (yours and others’) to better understand for whom you are developing content.
  • Evaluate metadata to examine the breadth of your content – Gain a global view of the catalog of content you have produced.
  • Analyze traffic under the metadata umbrella to understand what topics are working – Move your insights from anecdotal to data-driven.
  • Measure, measure, measure – Identify which topics are working and double down on them.
  • Make this analysis available across the company Share the insights derived from content consumption to inform activities across the business.

Want to learn more about how to tie data to your strategy? CMI invites you to listen to the webinar, see the slides, or read the transcript – Creating a Content Strategy With Data at the Core.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via

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Facebook Ad Guy Goes From Fantasy Sports To Create Niche Marketing Company


When it comes to Facebook ads, Jon Loomer has developed a strong brand in this marketing niche. But marketing wasn’t something that came naturally to Jon. In this episode of The Pivot, host Todd Wheatland talks with Jon about his journey from the Midwest where he started in telemarketing sales to his current life in Denver where he runs Jon Loomer Digital. Learn how Jon’s passion for fantasy sports brought him into the world of marketing and why his choice to go tight with his niche has grown his business and his brand.

Listen to Todd’s full interview with Jon here:
(Social Media Marketing World, March 2015, San Diego, CA)

Download this week’s The Pivot episode.

If you enjoy The Pivot episode, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

What may surprise you

  • Jon was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Michigan and Iowa.
  • He was a philosophy major at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
  • He moved to Denver and worked as an underwriter for an insurance company.
  • Jon started writing for fantasy sports sites and started his own site while continuing his full-time job.
  • He wrote for Rotoworld – a sports website – in 1999.
  • In 2005, Jon was hired by the National Basketball Association as Senior Manager for its fantasy games division.
  • Jon coaches his three sons’ baseball teams every summer and works his professional travel schedule around baseball season.

Jon’s pivot

After his NBA stint, Jon joined a start-up in the fantasy sports arena but was laid off six months later. He went to work at the American Cancer Society as Vice President of Strategic Marketing, West Division, but was laid off again. He then took control of his career and in 2011 launched Jon Loomer Digital, which soon focused on Facebook marketing.

Niched down to niche back up

Jon has gone from being the “Facebook Marketing Guy” to the “Facebook Ads Guy” or even “The Power Editor Guy.” He intentionally focused his brand on a small niche. By putting his attention on something so specific, he has been able to grow his business by being the go-to guy for Facebook marketing.

Now that he has built his brand under this niche – creating a community and proving his expertise – Jon believes he can branch out to other topics.

I’ve niched down, but I also see that eventually I’ll probably want to niche back up in some way. But I think it’s important to niche down in the beginning ’cuz that’s how you stand out. I couldn’t be a jack-of-all-trades and stand out.

For a full list of The Pivot archives, go to the main The Pivot: Marketing Backstories page.

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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Secret Psychology of Facebook: Why We Like, Share, Comment and Keep Coming Back

Whenever I hop onto Facebook to do something specific—find a link I saved for later or see what’s happening on Buffer’s Facebook page, perhaps—something strange happens.

Despite my best intentions to stay on track and accomplish my goal, I get sucked in. Suddenly I’m checking my own notifications, looking at what’s been recently posted and generally forgetting why I came to Facebook in the first place.

This isn’t entirely by accident. There is science and psychology that explains why so many of us are glued to Facebook.

Researchers have discovered trends in the way that we perform every major action on Facebook—liking, posting, sharing, commenting and even lurking.

And there’s a ton of psychology involved in what makes Facebook so attractive in the first place. Here’s a look at the psychology of Facebook: what makes us like, post, share and keep coming back for more.

psychology of facebook

Why we love Facebook so much: It taps the brain’s pleasure center

Lots of studies have worked toward figuring out what exactly goes on in our brains when we’re participating in social media—specifically, Facebook.

A recent one discovered a strong connection between Facebook and the brain’s reward center, called the nucleus accumbens. This area processes rewarding feelings about things like food, sex, money and social acceptance.

When we get positive feedback on Facebook, the feeling lights up this part of our brain. The greater the intensity of our Facebook use, the greater the reward.

Another fascinating study recorded physiological reactions like pupil dilation in volunteers as they looked at their Facebook accounts to find that browsing Facebook can evoke what they call flow state, the feeling you get when you’re totally and happily engrossed in a project or new skill.

Why we “like:” Identity, empathy and practicality

Perhaps the most easily recognized currency of Facebook is the “like.”

According to Facebook:

“Like” is a way to give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about on Facebook. You can like content that your friends post to give them feedback or like a Page that you want to connect with on Facebook.

When the Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of Americans about their social media lives, they discovered that 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29% doing so several times per day.

So what makes us like, or not like, a particular status, photo or page? Is there a method to liking? Here are some reasons why we like:

It’s a quick and easy nod

Maybe the easiest way to figure out what the like means to us is to stop using it. That’s what Elan Morgan did in a 2-week experiment she chronicled on Medium. Here’s what she discovered:

“The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room. It’s the easiest of yesses, I-agrees, and me-toos. I actually felt pangs of guilt over not liking some updates, as though the absence of my particular Like would translate as a disapproval or a withholding of affection. I felt as though my ability to communicate had been somehow hobbled. The Like function has saved me so much comment-typing over the years that I likely could have written a very quippy, War-and-Peace-length novel by now.”

To affirm something about ourselves

One element of Facebook that we may not realize is how often we use the Like to affirm something about ourselves. In a study of more than 58,000 people who made their likes public through a Facebook app, researchers discovered that Likes could predict a number of identification traits that users had not disclosed:

“Feeding people’s “likes” into an algorithm, information hidden in the lists of favorites predicted whether someone was white or African American with 95% accuracy, whether they were a gay male with 88% accuracy, and even identified participants as a Democrat or Republican with 85% accuracy.  The ‘likes’ list predicted gender with 93% accuracy and age could be reliably determined 75% of the time.”

To express virtual empathy

And sometimes we like in order to show solidarity or unity with a friend or acquaintance and their way of thinking. Social media can be a way of gaining “virtual empathy”—and that empathy can have real-world implications.

A study reported in Psychology Today showed that spending more time using social networks and engaging in instant message chats predicted more ability to be virtual empathic and that virtual empathy was a good indicator of being able to express real-world empathy.

Because it’s practical/we’ll get something in return

When it comes to how we choose to like brands and companies, the motivation is a bit simpler. A Syncapse study found that most people seem to make these decision based on practical reasons, like wanting to receive coupons and regular updates from companies they like.

Study explains why we like brands on Facebook

Whereas our reasons for not liking a brand focus on privacy and quality of the social media experience:

Reasons for not liking a brand on Facebook

Marketing takeaway: Likes are the penny of social media currency—spend them freely if you like, but don’t expect too much in return.

Why we comment

The answer to this one may seem kinda obvious—we comment when we have something to say!

One interesting things about receiving comments is how our brains reacts to those as compared to likes. Moira Burke, who is studying 1,200 Facebook users in an ongoing experiment, has found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication of likes. She calls them “composed communication:”

“People who received composed communication became less lonely, while people who received one-click communication experienced no change in loneliness,” she said…. Even better than sending a private Facebook message is the semi-public conversation, the kind of back-and-forth in which you half ignore the other people who may be listening in. “People whose friends write to them semi-publicly on Facebook experience decreases in loneliness,” Burke says.

Elan Morgan, mentioned earlier for her experiment in quitting likes for 2 weeks, found an additional benefit to prioritizing commenting over “Liking”—it effectively retrained the Facebook algorithm to give her more of the content she wanted.

“Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function.”

Marketing takeaway: Comments are a powerful emotional driver. Make the most of them by engaging often with your Facebook community and replying to fans’ comments to keep the conversation going.

Why we post status updates

A Pew Research study shows that although users “like” their friends’ content and comment on photos relatively frequently, most don’t change their own status that often.

  • 10% of Facebook users change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis
  • 4% updating their status several times per day
  • 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status

This makes sense, given that the same study showed that “oversharing” was one of Facebook’s biggest annoyances for users:

oversharing is top dislike on Facebok

So why do many of us take the time to update our status on Facebook? What is the motivation, and what are we hoping to get out of the experience? Here’s the science behind posting to Facebook.

Posting makes us feel connected

Researchers at the University of Arizona monitored a group of students and tracked their “loneliness levels” while posting Facebook status updates. The study found that when students updated their Facebook statuses more often, they reported lower levels of loneliness:

loneliness on Facebook study

This was true even if no one liked or commented on their posts! Researcher link the drop in loneliness to an increase in feeling more socially connected.

On the other hand, when people see their social media statuses are not being engaged with as much as their peers, they can begin to feel like they don’t belong, as seen in this experiment.

What stops us from posting? A self-censoring study

Now that we know why we post, what do we know about when we don’t post? Researchers at Facebook conducted a study on self-censorship (that is, the posts you write and never actually publish).

Over 17 days, they tracked the activity of 3.9 million users and saw 71 percent of users type out at least one status or comment they decided not to submit. On average, users changed their mind about 4.52 statuses and 3.2 comments.

Facebook self censorship study
These charts show the number of censored (in red) and published (in blue) comments and posts during the study, and where on Facebook they were made.

Researchers theorize that people are more likely to self-censor when they feel their audience is hard to define. Facebook audiences tend to be quite diverse which makes it hard to appeal to everyone. Users were less likely to censor their comments on someone else’s post because the audience was more concrete.

Marketing takeaway: People engage the most of Facebook when they feel connected to one another and understood by their audience. It’s a bonus if they think they’ll get a response in return. Can you create those conditions on your brand’s Facebook page?

Why we share: A guide to more shareable content

The New York Times did an awesome study on why we share a few years ago that remains one of the most informative on the topic of social media sharing. This study identified five major drivers for sharing:

  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another. 49% of respondents say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
  • To define ourselves to others.  68% of respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
  • To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% of respondents said they share information online because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
  • For self-fulfillment. 69% said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
  • To get the word out about causes they care about.  84% of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes or issues they care about.

Our friends at CoSchedule put all this into an easy-to-remember infographic:

why people share on social media

Another worldwide poll by Ipsos offers some similar findings, noting that around the globe, people seek primarily:

  • to share interesting things (61%)
  • to share important things (43%)
  • to share funny things (43%)
  • to let others know what I believe in and who I really am (37%)
  • to recommend a product, service, movie, book, etc (30%)
  • to add my support to a cause, an organization or a belief (29%)
  • to share unique things (26%)
  • to let others know what I’m doing (22%)
  • to add to a thread or conversation (20%)
  • to show I’m in the know (10%)

Here’s a cool country-by-country breakdown:

global sharing habits

One more thing we know about what gets shared: High-share content tends to trigger a high-arousal emotion, like amusement, fear or anger, as opposed to a low-arousal emotion like sadness or contentment.

Marketing takeaway: For content that racks up the shares, tap into one of these urges.

  • Create really entertaining or very useful content that will help your audience gain social status by looking smart, cool or “in the know”
  • Create content that helps your audience share more of themselves with others. You can use your brand as a rallying point and identifier or simply help them share a message that taps into who they really are
  • Create content that helps your audience engage with one another and interact together

One last note: What happens when we lurk and don’t participate

Is there a darker side to Facebook? Some of the studies I uncovered worried that Facebook could be making us more lonely, or isolated, or jealous of all the seemingly-perfect lives we see there. This down side of Facebook seems to emerge mostly when we become passive viewers of Facebook and not a part of the experience.

2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged on Facebook—posting, messaging, Liking, etc.—their feelings of general social capital increased, while loneliness decreased. But when the study participants simply lurked, Facebook acted in the opposite way, increasing their sense of loneliness and isolation.

According to researcher Moira Burke, lurking on Facebook correlates to an increase in depression. “If two women each talk to their friends the same amount of time, but one of them spends more time reading about friends on Facebook as well, the one reading tends to grow slightly more depressed,” Burke says.

Do these findings ring true to you?

It turns out there is psychology behind almost every element of the Facebook experience—and researchers can’t seem to get enough of studying our habits there.

How do these findings fit with your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook! 

The post The Secret Psychology of Facebook: Why We Like, Share, Comment and Keep Coming Back appeared first on Social.

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5 More Tips on How to Choose a Content Marketing Agency


About this time last year, I wrote about how to choose a content marketing agency. Revisiting the topic this time, a few things have changed. The seven points are still relevant, but the agency landscape has evolved greatly in the last 12 months.

Spending in the sector has accelerated significantly as the skill set of content marketing seeps into mainstream marketing budgets. We’ve seen budgets transferred from search, PR, digital, and traditional publishers into our coffers, and now we are seeing agencies from those segments race to respond and reform to get their share of the lucrative content marketing dollar.

We’ve also seen mainstream creative, media, and digital agencies jumping on board, so for marketers it’s become even more difficult to get a handle on which agency is best suited to help them with their content marketing programs.

With this in mind, let’s see if we can demystify some of the key points to help you pick a content marketing partner:

1. Look at their strategic capabilities

According to recent CMI across-the-market surveys, many brands do not have a documented content strategy, and this will be reflected in their return on content marketing initiatives.

Therefore, it is critical to find a content marketing agency that has strong strategic capabilities. This means more than just having a head of strategy – the agency should have a consistent approach, a strong methodology, and most importantly, a good track record.

Look at their case studies and get in touch with clients. How have they helped other brands develop successful content strategies? What kind of approach have they taken? How does that translate to how they could help engage your audience, enhance your marketing strategy, and achieve your business goals?

2. Ask which tools they offer and how they can give you actionable outcomes and results

I touched on this last year, and it’s getting more and more important to find a data-driven agency. How will they measure the success of your marketing program and help boost your ROI?

Look specifically at the data and measurement tools, processes, and indicators they have to measure success and identify areas for improvement. As we all know, nothing works well all the time, so how do they identify problems and operate when they need to change course?

3. Look under the hood (so to speak …)

My No. 1 thing is people. You meet the boss, you meet the head of “this” and “that,” and then you sign the deal and you don’t see those guys for dust!

Question whether they have a solid layer of account and project management – smart and experienced people who will be there to communicate effectively with you day in, day out. The sort of people you would hire yourself.

As the market diversifies and more agencies jump in, you must  question whether the people within their agency are the right fit for you and your business. Do they understand your values, motivations, and business goals, and do they have the skill sets to help you live up to them?

Early on, make sure you meet those who could be on your team. Have an idea of what questions you want to ask so that you feel comfortable they are up to the task and will meet the values of your brand.

4. Get a better understanding of the marketing technology the agency has at its disposal and how you will interface with it

Marketing technology is a must-have – it can help you identify new audience segments, measure engagement, and attribute action and revenue to your marketing programs.

If you are using a technology in conjunction with the agency, look carefully at the user interface. If you and your team are using the program daily, you want to ensure it is simple to use and the results are easy to understand.

If you have your own marketing technology platforms that will play a role in measuring or assisting with the work your agency does, ask about its experience with the platform and/or how the agency’s campaign will plug in to or complement it.

In the last 12 months, technology vendors have become involved in the content marketing segment. While there is now a plethora of platforms and marketing automation software, remember that they all require quality content to make them function well.

5. Longevity and retention are key

Do they have a roster of clients that have gone the distance? Over and above a great pitch, can they actually execute over time – managing the ups and downs of a program, remaining agile to address any challenges?

What I’m saying is, can they deliver? You will only gain this knowledge by checking with the agency’s clients, looking at those that have renewed contracts or signed on for additional campaigns. Play the devil’s advocate – find clients who are not listed or provided as references.

So there you have it – another five points to consider as you go through the process of finding a content marketing agency that can work well for you. Good luck.

An excerpt of this article originally appeared in the April issue of  Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bimonthly, print magazine.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Who Built Careers Around Their Passions Through Social Media

Have you heard this advice before: “Follow your passions!” “Do what you love!”?

And have you thought, what if my passions are my hobbies? Things that I could never be paid for?

For some, the advice to “do what you love” seems possible only if you have a passion for things like finance or accounting or coding. Well, I’ve been happy to find that it’s possible to follow your passions into a career, no matter what those passions may be. With social media, you now have a platform to do what you love—and to make a career out of it.

I found 15 amazing entrepreneurs who built their entire businesses and careers around social media, many earning $100,000 or more. 

I’d love to share their stories with you—and how you can follow their lead to turn your passions into a career, through social media.

new career social media

How to Earn an Income Doing What You Love on Social Media

It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it?

Posting photographs or tweets a few times each day to launch a lucrative career doing what you love.

And you might be wondering how these social media entrepreneurs make money. Because after all, a career requires an income.

I’ll get into the specific stories of 15 entrepreneurs below. First, I thought I’d share the many number of ways—the specific avenues and channels—that they use to make money on social media.

How to earn an income on social media

1. Sponsorships

Sponsorships are responsible for a lot of the money earned through social media, especially for those just starting off. Brittany Furlan, Caitlin Turner and Shaun McBride all started with sponsorships.

Sponsorships occur when brands pay to be associated with you. When a tourism board pays Instagrammer Lauren Bath to work with them and feature their location, they are sponsoring Lauren.

Podcasts are usually funded through sponsorships as well. The sponsor will pay to be featured on the podcast at some point during the episode.

2. Advertisements

Advertisements are another popular method of monetizing social media. YouTubers like Liz Meghan use ads to make a living through their social media accounts.

Advertisements differ from sponsorships in that there’s usually not a long term relationship with the entrepreneur.

3. Selling products

If you have a product based business like an eCommerce store, this is perfect for you.

Social media can be a great place to sell your products – or, at the least, build up a following and redirect those followers to your website to buy your products.

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to work with brands to help them sell their products, earning you a commission each time somebody buys through your affiliate link.

Many social media channels allow affiliate links to be placed within a post, and when the follower clicks on the link and makes a purchase through it, the poster gets a portion of that sale.

5. Promoting services

If a service-based business is more up your alley, you don’t want to look past social media as a marketing channel.

From hair stylists who post their work on Instagram to coaches who use Facebook as a platform to engage with potential clients, there is a lot of opportunity on social media to promote your services.

6. Boosting your visibility as an artist

If you’re an artist, writer, or creative entrepreneur, social media can be an amazing tool to boost your visibility.

Artists like Us the Duo, Grace Ciao, and writer Jeff Goins all have used their social media channels as methods of boosting their visibility to book gigs and sell their art.

Why Social Media Works

Creating social media content every day. Scheduling it at the right times. Analyzing what followers respond to and what they ignore. The time it takes to manage a social media marketing strategy can be significant.

Here are two reasons why the time is well worth it, especially for those looking to build a new career.

1. Social Media Expands Your Reach by 1,000x

How many people visit your website each day?

200? 1,000?

Those aren’t bad numbers. And it may make sense for you to spend time on your own website rather than social media because your website is like your online home.

But think about it:

  • Instagram has 100 million active users
  • Twitter has over 135 million active users
  • Youtube sees over 1 billion active users each month

Even if only 0.1% of the people on those channels are interested in what you’re doing, you’ve still amplified your reach by over 1,000 times by using social media to spread your message and share your passion.

2. Social Media Establishes Your Expertise 

The lifeblood of social media is content.

Even if you’re posting a 6-second video on Vine or a photo on Instagram, you’re posting content.

When you’re consistently posting content about a specific topic, you establish yourself as an expert.

Take, for example, two mathematicians who love numbers. Who establishes herself as an expert?

  • Mathematician A, who loves her work but avoids social media, or
  • Mathematician B, who teaches others how to do math on Youtube and has 200,000 followers?

They’re both experts, but Mathematician B has established herself as an expert. She has built an audience, and provides value to others by demonstrating her knowledge on social media.

15 Entrepreneurs Who Built New Careers Through Social Media

1. Brandon Stanton

The creator of Humans of New York


In 2010, after losing his job, Brandon Stanton began to take candid photographs of people on the streets of New York and post them to Facebook.

Self-taught, Brandon took photos that reflected his passion, and these photos quickly began to gain traction on Facebook.

Humans of New York now has over 12 million Facebook likes, and it has launched a speaking, photography, philanthropic and media career for Brandon.The revenue generated by HONY prints sold goes directly to charity, and Brandon makes a living from the royalties of books sales and new freelancing opportunities. He went into a bit more detail about the specifics in a Reddit AMA:

How are you able to pay for your daily needs? Does HONY support you financially?

I’ve said publicly that I don’t want to “cash out” or “monetize” HONY. I like to say it publicly because I want my audience to keep me on mission. HONY print sales have raised nearly $500,000 for charity in the past six months. I want to further monetize the site for non-profit ventures. I honestly want to “give” HONY to New York in some way.

Freelancing and book royalties are keeping me afloat now. I get money for collaborations, occasional magazine pieces, occasional speeches, etc. And I signed two book deals which pay the rent. Also, I live cheaply.

2. Jeff Goins

Author and Blogger behind Goins, Writer


Two years ago, Jeff Goins quit his day job to pursue his passion for writing full-time.

He now has built a tribe of over 100,000 people, and has just launched his fourth book, The Art of Work.

This is all made possible by social media.

Jeff began writing on his blog,, and continued to work in his day job. He then began to earn more on his blog doing what he loved part-time than he was in his full-time job.

My blog (which accounted for less than 10 hours per week) was now contributing more income than my full-time job (which took up at least 40 hours per week).

His first product—a $2.99 ebook—earned $1,500 in its first week, convincing Jeff that his hobby could be a business.

His blog gave him a platform to follow his passion and do what he loves.

3. Grace Ciao

Fashion Designer and Artist

grace ciao

Grace Ciao is the ultimate accidental social media entrepreneur.

Since she was a little girl, Grace has had a passion for fashion design, and one day, she noticed a flower a boy had given her was dying. So Grace created a fashion illustration out of the petals of the flower.

She took a photo of her illustration and posted it on Instagram, which quickly became popular.

Grace earns a living as a full-time illustrator, and has used her platform to book engagements for events.

4. Michael and Carissa Alvarado

Husband and Wife Singers, Us The Duo


Michael and Carissa Alvarado were making music before they began posting 6-second videos on Vine, but nothing has skyrocketed their careers more than Vine has.

The couple was already trying to gain more traction on Youtube when they decided to put snippets of their covers on Vine, which served them well.

They now have 4.6 million Vine followers, and signed a record deal with Republic Records in 2014, allowing them to follow their passion by getting their start on social media.

5. Rosanna Pansino

Nerd and Baker at Nerdy Nummies

rosanna pansino

If you’ve ever thought the only way to pursue your passion for baking is by opening a bakery or through feeding your family, think again.

Rosanna Pansino built a career on social media centered around her love of baking when she was egged on by friends (pun intended) to start a Youtube channel.

Rosanna’s Youtube Channel, Nerdy Nummies has over 3.6 million subscribers.

6. Justin Halpern

Comedian from Sh!t My Dad Says

Let me guess.

It seems as if every time you open Twitter, you’re instantly barraged with links to mediocre blog posts, pictures of people’s lattes and announcements of what the newest member of oversharers-anonymous is having for lunch that day.

You could never imagine Twitter as a platform to build a career, right?

Well, Justin Halpern did just that.

He took his comedy writing career to the next level by starting the popular Twitter account Sh!t My Dad Says, where he began to Tweet snippets of conversations with his father.

The Twitter account quickly gained traction and morphed into a television series and book.

7. Lain Ehmann

Scrapbooker and Blogger from Layout a Day

If you’ve ever felt as if your interests or hobbies were impossible to build a career from, you may be inspired by Lain Ehmann, who built her career from a blog about scrapbooking.

Yes, you read that right.

She’s built a six figure business around a niche that is traditionally a hobby niche, teaching others how to scrapbook and holding live online events through her blog.

The power of the internet allows us to connect with people who are interested in the things that we’re interested in, and if we can provide enough value to those people, Lain proves that lucrative careers can be built.

8. Shaun McBride

Artist and Snapchatter


Shaun McBride learned how to draw by looking at other artists’ drawings and trying his hand out at the craft.

After Snapchatting his drawing/photo mashups, he was featured on some popular websites, which boosted his career.

He now can make tens of thousands of dollars from one advertising deal with a brand through his Snapchat account, according to Forbes, and “several thousand dollars per image”.

9. Shawn Stevenson

Health Enthusiast of The Model Health Show


If text or images doesn’t interest you when it comes to building a career on social media, maybe audio does.

Shawn Stevenson runs the #1 health podcast on iTunes, the Model Health Show, allowing him to follow his passion for fitness and health through a different medium.

Instead of taking the traditional route of personal training, Shawn interviews guests on his podcast, creating content and giving listeners the tools to live healthy lives.

10. Lauren Bath

Traveller and Professional Instagrammer

lauren bath

Lauren Bath has arguably the best job in the world. Not only is she paid to Instagram, but she also gets paid to travel.

Lauren was the “first professional Instagrammer” of Australia, and quit her job as a chef to pursue her passions for photography and travel.

Lauren works with tourism boards and brands to provide exposure through her huge Instagram account to make a living.

While she doesn’t reveal her rates in interviews, she tells Successful Blogging that she works with brands such as Nikon and Tourism Boards to offer them sponsorships:

Well I can’t talk for others but for me I charge a base rate to travel away from home and that rate includes posting whatever images I like with all content available to the client.

11. Joey Korneman

Animator and Teacher from School of Motion

school of motion

Joey Korneman is the founder of  School of Motion, where he teaches his students through online courses to animate using the principles of motion design.

Most of Joey’s traffic comes from Vimeo, as he tells Pat Flynn’s mastermind group in a recent episode of the Smart Passive Income Podcast.

He has 5,000 followers on Vimeo, which is high for that social media channel, and, as he tells Pat’s mastermind group, “Vimeo is very high-quality traffic for motion design”.

Joey makes a living teaching motion design by directing his Vimeo followers to his website, where he sells courses.

12. Mignon Fogarty

Grammarian and Podcaster at Grammar Girl


Passions come in all shapes and sizes, and Mignon Fogarty’s passion is unique.

Mignon has a passion for grammar, and works full time in the field by teaching grammar principles to her rabid fans of her Grammar Girl podcast.

Through social media, she has been able to build an amazing career around grammar, as she blogs as well.

13. Caitlin Turner

Yogi and Instagrammer GypsetGoddess

Gypset Goddess

Caitlin’s passion for yoga has provided her with the unique opportunity to build an entire career from it – on Instagram.

Catlin’s Instagram account is still relatively new – about three years old – but she still has earned over 220,000 followers.

Caitlin told Yoganonymous that “Instagram has definitely been a huge career chance for me. It’s connected me professionally to different brands and people I wouldn’t have found before because I had no reason to. This is my career now.”

14. Brittany Furlan

Actress and Vine Comedian


Social media has helped people like Brittany Furlan launch comedic and acting careers in a way that was never possible before.

Brittany used Vine to launch her career in comedy and acting and now has 8.9 million followers on Vine.

Brittany told The Wrap that she makes a comfortable living through her Vines.

Those videos — which include a repertoire of outlandish characters (“Ghetto Dora De Explora“), quick-to-the-punchline sketches or pranks on the unsuspecting public — are worth between $7,000 and $20,000 to brands targeting Furlan’s massive audience.

She’s now gone on to partner with Seth Green to create a sketch show.

15. Liz Meghan

Youtuber and Makeup Artist

Liz Meghan

Liz Meghan had a passion for makeup, and she channeled that passion into Youtube.

With over 672,000 subscribers on her Youtube channel, Liz makes a living doing what she loves through makeup tutorials and sharing what she’s learned about makeup over the years.

Liz tells the Huffington Post that she makes a living off of her Youtube channel because Youtube pays her to put ads on her videos.

There’s no better time than now to do what you love

As these inspiring entrepreneurs demonstrate, by building a following online using social media, you can:

  • Get paid to do what you love
  • Establish yourself as an expert and
  • Grow a following around your passions.

There’s no excuse to not get out there, pick a social media channel, and start posting.

Have you found success in building a career or a following on social media? Are you inspired by others who have taken this route to follow their dreams? I’d love to hear more about what you’ve experienced and learned in the comments.

Image sources: Pablo, Unsplash, IconFinderHumansofnewyork.comArt of Work,

The post 15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Who Built Careers Around Their Passions Through Social Media appeared first on Social.

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Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research]

2015_ER_Cover_1A few weeks ago, an article on our blog generated a small debate in the comments. The article, by Neil Patel, shared eight content marketing innovations from the world’s best brands. Most of the companies featured were large, which led to a conversation about whether big companies have an advantage over small ones because they have bigger content marketing budgets.

However, our most recent research, B2B Enterprise Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by Marketo, shows that large companies are often more challenged when it comes to content marketing. This makes perfect sense because the content marketing process is so much more complex for large enterprises with multiple divisions and product lines. Among the findings:

  • Twenty-eight percent of enterprise marketers consider themselves to be effective, compared with 40% of small-business marketers.
  • Fifteen percent say they successfully track ROI, compared with 25% of small-business marketers.
  • Enterprise marketers are more challenged with nearly every aspect of content marketing when compared with B2B marketers overall.

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Read on to discover other key findings from this year’s enterprise research.

Nearly 90% are focused on creating more engaging, higher-quality content

Enterprise marketers create a lot of content: 65% say they are producing more content than they did one year ago, but last year 75% reported they were producing more content than the previous year. How are they spending their time?

The initiative enterprise marketers cite most frequently (89%) is the effort toward creating more engaging, higher-quality content. Other top initiatives include:

  • Organizing website content
  • Developing a better understanding of what content is effective – and what isn’t
  • Creating visual content
  • Repurposing content
  • Measuring content marketing ROI
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Get tips for every initiative content marketers are working on, including content marketing tactics, strategy, and processes.

 49% have a dedicated content marketing group

Nearly half of enterprise marketers (49%) say their company has a dedicated content marketing group. This percentage increases to 81% if the team has a documented content marketing strategy (which is one of the key factors that differentiates effective content marketers from their less effective peers).

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RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Executive Research: How Enterprises Structure, Scale, and Spend on Content

Enterprises use more content marketing tactics than smaller companies

Of all the categories of marketers we’ve studied, enterprise marketers use the most content marketing tactics (16 on average). In-person events and videos are the tactics used most often (by 93% each). These are also the two tactics enterprise marketers say are most effective.

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Though cited more frequently, paid promotion methods aren’t always most effective

Enterprise marketers use more paid methods (an average of four) to promote content when compared with B2B marketers overall, who use an average of three paid methods. But while 74% of enterprise marketers use traditional online banner ads and 70% use print or other offline promotion, they report better results with search engine marketing, content discovery tools, promoted posts, social ads, and native advertising.

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Brand awareness continues to be top goal for content marketing

While B2B small-business marketers replaced brand awareness with lead generation as the top goal for content marketing this year, enterprise marketers rank brand awareness as their primary emphasis more frequently: 84% say it is an important goal, followed by engagement (80%), sales (79%), and lead generation (78%).

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Where do you go from here?

Enterprise marketers continue to embrace content marketing and strive to overcome its challenges. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most from your investment in content marketing:

  • Document your strategy. (HINT: Get started with our 16-page guide on the essential questions to answer.)
  • Identify what metrics are most important across key groups and relentlessly pursue – and report on – those activities. (HINT: Consider having a single version of the truth.)
  • Remember that buy-in is not a single event. Continue to look for opportunities to share results with key decision-makers and other content marketing stakeholders. (HINT: Think about what is most important to them [e.g., number of leads, quality of leads, revenue, happy customers] and highlight those kinds of successes.)

Want to learn more? The CMI enterprise research report answers many other questions, including:

  • How many enterprise marketers have a content marketing strategy?
  • Which metrics do they use to gauge success?
  • How many audiences do they target?
  • How often do they publish new content?

Do you agree with the findings? What challenges do you face as an enterprise marketer? What advantages do you have if you work for a large brand? Let us know in the comments.

Want to follow the success of enterprise marketers who have a written content marketing strategy? Use our 16-page guide to create your documented marketing strategy.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research] appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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Rohit Bhargava Shares How To Spot Trends in the Non-Obvious


With the launch of Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future, Rohit Bhargava adds his fifth book to the best-seller lists. In this episode of Content Marketing NEXT, Rohit talks about how his Non-Obvious Trends Report, published since 2011, was the catalyst for writing a blueprint on how we can all become better trend spotters.

Listen to Pamela’s full interview with Rohit here:

(Recorded April 2015; Length: 52:41)

Download this week’s Content Marketing NEXT episode.

If you enjoy the Content Marketing NEXT podcast, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

What’s new, what’s now, what’s next

What’s new:

A big new for Rohit is his book, Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future. In honor of the fifth year for his Non-Obvious Trends Report, he chose to write a book that shares how each of us can become a better trend spotter and use those trends to grow better brands and careers.

He describes a trend as the observation of the accelerating present. What is happening right now that is starting to accelerate? How is that trend changing how we buy, sell, or believe something?

Trend predictors train themselves to be more observant about the patterns and processes in the world that happen every single day – they can start to see what others don’t see. They then can see the trends, predict the future, and win against their competition.

What’s now:

Trend spotters must be able to say “yes” to these three elements of a trend:

  • Is it a quantifiable idea?
  • Is it accelerating?
  • Is it having an impact?

For every single trend, you can derive actionable suggestions or tips. Then apply those tips in your business or career today to take advantage of that trend.

How can content marketers act on a trend? Look at how others are working the trend. Then ask questions on how you as a marketing professional can integrate this trend.

Blog celebrates 10 years

In 2004, Rohit was part of an outreach group to bloggers. To better understand this audience, he decided to start blogging himself. The biggest difference for Rohit in blogging then and blogging now: It used to be all about your blog. Now there are many places to share your written voice such as LinkedIn and Medium.

From his blogging experience, Rohit suggests that content marketers learn to write like a screenwriter or playwright. What those writers put on a page is meant to be read aloud. Writing in a similar style will make your writing sound natural and not too “salesy.”

What’s next:

One trend from the 2015 Non-Obvious Report: The Reluctant Marketer shows the shift toward the value of content marketing and the importance of more significant and useful information.

Marketing’s old-school definition is too promotional. Today, marketing is about storytelling and journalism. Even CMOs wonder if the “M” in their title is still a viable label. Their role and the role of their team now is much more overall brand- and value-oriented.

Another trend Rohit shared is glance-able content – making text easier to digest by creating it in smaller chunks. A danger in using glance-able content is that people may pay more attention to the insubstantial and less attention to substantial text.

Blast the buzzword

Rohit’s buzzword: Content

The word content is being used like packaging inside of a box that you toss away. It’s more than that. Content is something valuable in the world. He believes we should set our sights higher and be more ambitious by telling real stories that are powerful and emotional. The word content sometime minimizes what we are or should be sharing.

In the hot seat

Here’s a recap of Rohit’s hot-seat Q&A:

Content marketers come from incredibly varied backgrounds. What aspect of your background – whether a particular job or an area of study – has been most valuable to you as a content marketer? 

Learning screenwriting, playwriting, and poetry writing is important to my work today. These skills showed me how to say things in beautiful ways that people remember.

What are your three must-read books on content marketing/marketing that you believe marketing professionals should have in their libraries?

The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten. The Tweets of Steve Martin by Steve Martin. No matter how gifted and successful you are, this book shows the importance of learning to listen and focus less on yourself.

Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits by Robert Townsend. Written by the former CEO of Avis more than 30 years ago, this book offers great insight into leadership that allows for a more human-oriented business that doesn’t get mired in the organizational structure that can inhibit creativity.

Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber. The Hollywood movie producer shares the power of storytelling to sell ideas.

If you could sit down with one person – living or dead – to have a conversation, who would it be?

Isaac Asimov, whom I aspire to be like and whom I quote in my book: “I’m not a speed reader, I’m a speed understander.” He was curious about everything, so much so that he produced knowledge about many things.

BONUS QUESTION: You spoke at Content Marketing World 2014. Why should someone attend Content Marketing World 2015?

You have a chance to be in a room with people who are embracing and doing marketing in a different and more valuable way. In the past, you were marketing to sell more stuff. You weren’t doing marketing to educate and inform people. There is something really cool and powerful about gathering people together who share this philosophy of marketing being something more positive as opposed to more manipulative in the world.

For a full list of archives, go to the main Content Marketing NEXT page.

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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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