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Podcasting is not new. However, what was once seen as a niche and hobbyist medium has well and truly gone mainstream. 

The art of audio storytelling has seemingly been given a shot in the arm through this format and embraced by content producers equally, from those at the kitchen table through to the larger media houses.

Many people first became aware of them when Apple over 15 years ago first offered over 3,000 free podcasts on iTunes. According to Forbes, there are now over 800,000 active podcasts with over 54 million podcast episodes available globally. 

With low production costs and few barriers to entry, podcasting as a medium is available to nearly everyone. The popularity of portable music players and smartphones has only made accessibility to podcasts easier.

podcastingMichele Levine, chief executive of research firm Roy Morgan, said podcasts are growing in popularity in Australia with nearly 10% of Australians now downloading audio or video podcasts in an average month:

“Podcasts are a relatively new part of the media landscape but are making an increasing impact as audiences for the service are on a steady growth track up an impressive 70% over the last four years to over 1.6 million Australians in 2019.

“The ability to listen to your favourite podcast while commuting to and from work and tuning out from the hustle and bustle on crowded public transport, or just relaxing in your spare time to catch up on what’s been happening in an area of personal interest is appealing to a growing number of Australians.”

Podcast rankings

As the attention of advertisers and brands follows, the seemingly fragmented world of podcasting and audience measurement is becoming more ordered, particularly with radio heavyweights embracing the platform. 

Late in 2019, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) announced the launch of the first monthly Australian Podcast Ranker which sees Australia’s top 100 most-downloaded and listened to podcasts ranked each month. The monthly rankings can be accessed here.

The ranking was launched with a foundation group of podcast publishers including News Corp Australia, Podcast One Australia, Nova Entertainment, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Australian Radio Network (ARN), Macquarie Media and SEN/ Crocmedia.

The rankings are dominated by our larger entertainment groups, with many familiar names including Hamish and Andy at the top. True crime is continually popular with News Corp Australia’s series of crime podcasts ranking highly including The Nowhere Child and Who the Hell is Hamish? 

podcasting

How can podcasting benefit your brand? 

Have you considered podcasting as a means of engaging with your customers and seeking out new audiences? A podcast may well fit in with your brand strategy and content marketing program and provide the following benefits: 

Reach new audiences

Podcasting can help you reach new audiences, especially through recommendations and referrals from satisfied listeners. If your podcast provides relevant and informative listening chances are that others will value your show, even if they’re not currently a customer.

Building relationships with an audience

Even though a podcast provides a largely one-way stream, it’s a great way to speak directly to your audience and is considered quite a personal medium, much like quality radio programming. The audience has elected to opt in, so you have a good opportunity to keep their attention. 

Make your brand more real

If you avoid the temptation of the hard sell and instead provide an informative listening experience and make your listeners feel part of a community then your engagement levels will be high and this will be reflected in brand trust and confidence.

Accurate Analytics

The digital medium allows you to accurately measure engagement by tracking key statistics which may include, amongst others: 

  • number of listens for each episode
  • country or region they listen from
  • ratings and reviews
  • top-performing episodes
  • average length of listening. 
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Writing great content that generates traffic, engagement, backlinks, shares and leads is the holy grail of content marketing. 

While there is still no simple recipe, one of the great benefits of the massive amount of content produced and the growth of analytical tools to review results has been a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

We now know with more clarity than ever how to write great content.

Writing Great Content Means Lots Of Writing

As part of its State Of Content Marketing 2019 Global Report, SEMrush analysed more than 700,000 articles from domains that had between 50,000 and 500,00 sessions per month.

The results were not great for lovers of short articles. It showed pages and blogs of more than 3,000 words getting 3x the traffic, 2x the shares and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length. Short articles (less than 200 words) are not shared at all 4.5x more often than long reads.

READ MORE: Five Newsroom Principles To Supercharge Your Content Strategy

The length of headlines is also critical to engagement. Articles with long headlines (14+ words) get 3x more traffic, 2x more shares and 5x more articles with short headlines (7-10 words).

The reason for the popularity of long reads is contested by it is safe to assume that as the sheer number of content pieces grows, readers are increasingly being more selective and taking deeper dives. 

The length of a ‘long’ article continues to get longer as well. In 2014,  HubSpot tallied the averages of all of its 6,000+ blog posts and derived that there is a “positive correlation between high performing pages within organic search and word counts over 2,250 words”. Just five years ago SEMRush’s sweet spot rested right between 2,250 and 2,500 words.

If the thought of writing 3,000 (or 2,500) words makes you draw a deep breath, thankfully there is an alternative view.

According to research done by popular blogging platform, Medium, the ideal length for blog posts is 1,600 words (or seven minutes of reading). This result is based on an analysis of the “average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length.” Their research found that up to the seven minute/1,600 wordmark, readers average time spent looking at the post increased, plateauing at the seven-minute mark, and quickly declining after that point.

While length is important, how you use it is also critical. The most important thing to remember is that quality content is what really matters. 5,000 words of dribble will not get anywhere near the result of 500 words of highly-targeted, useful content.

writing great content

Are Listicles Still Important?

There is a reason listicles have spread like a rash across the internet. They work. According to SEMrush, listicles get the most shares and traffic (up to 2x more than other blog types), followed by guides and “how to” articles.

Why do they work? They allow our brain to digest information in a very digestible way. Modern media assaults us with a never ending stream of content. Our brains simply do not have the capacity to sort through the massive volume of information and store in a useful place for easy recall later.

As Forbes’ Steve Denning explains:

“With the tsunami of incoming stuff, our brains will automatically try to find a sorting mechanism and try to make sense of it. So we naturally gravitate to the listicle. Finally! the brain says. A writer who has actually organized thoughts into some semblance of order. The brain sees organization and says, Right, let’s read it.”

Think About Structure

The structure of your article is also critical to understanding, as well as having incredible SEO value. SEMrush identified that well-structured articles with h2 and h3 are more likely to be high-performing. More than one in three articles with h2 and h3 tags have high performance in terms of traffic, shares and backlinks.

Header tags are an important on-page SEO factor because they’re used to communicate to the search engines what your website is about. Search engines recognise the copy in your header tags as more important than the rest. This starts with your h1 and works its way down in importance to the h2, h3 and so on.  These tags will help support the overall theme or purpose of your page.

The content of your tags is just as critical as actually using them. Make sure you are stuffing your header tags with short-tail and long-tail keywords. As search engines crawl your site, they will pick up on the headers and recognise the keywords you are using as important.

This article has been structured to index for search traffic that is using the search term “Tips For Writing Great Content In 2020″

  • My h1 = <h1> Top Tips For Writing Great Content In 2020 </h1>
  • My h2 = <h2> Writing Great Content Means Lots Of Writing</h2>
  • My h3 = <h3>Are Listicles Still Important</h3>

As you can see, I used my h1 to capture the overall theme of the post since it represents what’s most important. I then used my h2 as a subheading to reinforce my h1 and overall theme. The same can be said about my h3 and how it relates to my other headings and overall theme.

The most important tip for writing great content (keywords!) is to give yourself plenty of time to write plenty of words, come up with a great headline, make it a list of something and use your header tags.

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Warner Brothers have hit the rename button on their mouthful of a title for the new Harley Quinn film, citing “search expansion for ticket sites” as their motivation.

It’s not often you have a post-release change to anything as large as a feature film, especially for the purposes of SEO.

Without critiquing the movie itself, let’s just get stuck into exactly how critical your title structure is to give your content the best chance of success.

Supervillains Need SEO, Too

The original title is 69 characters and 11 words long including parentheses:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

The new title is just 28 characters and 5 words long:

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Harley Quinn’s namesake has now been given pride of place, with Birds of Prey taking a back seat, and the rambling 40 character Australian Psychic Expo word vomit is gone.

 

Why is the title important? Anyone, regardless of their enthusiasm for comic book movies will be able to tell you that this is the Harley Quinn movie. In general, Google show a maximum of 60 characters in Search titles, so by positioning her extremely valuable name 55 characters into the title, listings will exclude her name from appearing at all:


Then there was this headline from Forbes which had a healthy dose of irony:

Forbes Harley Quinn Listing

Whereas the truncated title fits perfectly with 30 characters to spare for the website’s name itself, benefiting local Cinemas and review sites alike, all battling for ticket sales and impressions.

The fact of the matter is, Birds of Prey simply doesn’t hold the same level of brand recognition as Harley Quinn does. It isn’t The Avengers, or X-Men (which suffered a similar blunder with Dark Phoenix). Current trends show that it’s only been as recently as this week that Birds of Prey’s search popularity has started to eclipse that of Harley Quinn’s:

If we compare the original title to the truncated title, the latter is 20 times as popular and trending upward as of writing this:

Even adding ‘Harley Quinn Movie’ to the mix illustrates the link between Harley Quinn and the brand’s success:

Objectively speaking, if this were any other service or product that you were searching for and you were presented with search results that didn’t contain the thing that you actually searched for, you’d probably just keep scrolling. You wouldn’t look for plumbers in your area and click a listing that began with 60 characters describing the van they turn up to a job in.

Admittedly, when I first read the original title for Birds of Prey my mind immediately defaulted to a Troy McClure film of undisclosed popularity:

 

Oddly enough, ‘The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel’ just squeezes in to the 60 character limit, making it slightly more SEO friendly than what I’m writing this article about.

Metatags Aren’t Just For Metahumans

Warner Brothers have been under fire in previous years for strong-arming directors into pre-release title changes, so this could simply just be a change of tact to afford Cathy Yan proper creative control over her film despite the unusually eccentric title raising numerous eyebrows.

Corporate Bean-Counters stepped in to action this unprecedented title change fairly swiftly, speaking volumes about the power of SEO and appropriately structuring your titles to make sure it is seen by as many eyes as possible.

Much like a feature film, your content is a money-making exercise. Business doesn’t run on love alone, you are always investing your time into creating content designed to position you as an expert in your field.

This isn’t saying you can’t be creative with your titles, you just have to be creative in the scope of the platform you’re publishing on. All content delivery methods come with a set of parameters that you must adhere to, which aren’t limited to just movie titles. For example, if you are creating content for TikTok, you wouldn’t use still images. If you are trying to launch a new car model in Portugal, you’d name it the Kauai instead of the Kona. If you were creating a billboard ad for the side of a highway, you wouldn’t use an entire paragraph of text (or would you).

Lyft Billboard

With that said, it’s time for you to start structuring your page titles effectively, they are your ad’s headline in organic search results.

  • Keep them under 60 characters long
  • Use your most important elements at the start
  • Answer a question preemptively (chances are you’re writing the article to answer something anyway)
  • Promote yourself shamelessly

The key takeaway from this scenario is that if the first title you pick doesn’t hit the mark, that’s ok! If Warner Brothers’ can change a movie title, then you can change your blog post’s title (feature image, excerpt or content for that matter) at any time. That in itself is the beauty of creating content for the digital world, you’re only limited by your attachment to what you create.

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On Facebook, we like what other people have already liked before us. Shutterstock
Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, University of Technology Sydney

This is the first article in a series looking at the attention economy and how online content gets in front of your eyeballs.


You may have read about – or already seen, depending on where you are – the latest tweak to Facebook’s interface: the disappearance of the likes counter.

Like Instagram (which it owns), Facebook is experimenting with hiding the number of likes that posts receive for users in some areas (Australia for Facebook, and Canada for Instagram).

In the new design, the number of likes is no longer shown. But with a simple click you can see who liked the post and even count them.

It seems like Facebook is going to a lot of trouble to hide a seemingly innocuous signal, especially when it is relatively easy to retrieve.

Facebook prototypes hiding like counts.

Facebook’s goal is reportedly to make people comfortable expressing themselves and to increase the quality of the content they share.

There are also claims about ameliorating user insecurity when posting, perceived liberty of expression, and circumventing the herd mentality.

But are there any scientific grounds for this change?

The MusicLab model

In 2006, US researchers Matthew Salganik, Peter Dodds and Duncan Watts set out to investigate the intriguing disconnect between quality and popularity observed in cultural markets.

They created the MusicLab experiments, in which users were presented with a choice of songs from unknown bands. Users would listen online and could choose to download songs they liked.

The users were divided into two groups: for one group, the songs were shown at random with no other information; for the other group, songs were ordered according to a social signal – the number of times each had already been downloaded – and this number was shown next to them.


Read more: Users (and their bias) are key to fighting fake news on Facebook – AI isn’t smart enough yet


A song’s number of downloads is a measure of its popularity, akin to the number of likes for Facebook posts.

The results were fascinating: when the number of downloads was shown, the song market would evolve to be highly unequal (with one song becoming vastly more popular than all the others) and unpredictable (the winning song would not be the same if the experiment were repeated).

Based on these results, Australian researchers proposed the first model (dubbed the MusicLab model) to explain how content becomes popular in cultural markets, why a few things get all the popularity and most get nothing, and (most important for us) why showing the number of downloads is so detrimental.

They theorised that the consumption of an online product (such as a song) is a two-step process: first the user clicks on it based on its appeal, then they download it based on its quality.

As it turns out, a song’s appeal is largely determined by its current popularity. If other people like something, we tend to think it’s worth taking a look at.

So how often a song will be downloaded in future depends on its current appeal, which in turn depends on its current number of downloads.

This leads to the well-known result that future popularity of a product or idea is highly dependent on its past popularity. This is also known as the “rich get richer” effect.

What does this have to do with Facebook likes?

The parallel between Facebook and the MusicLab experiment is straightforward: the songs correspond to posts, whereas downloads correspond to likes.

For a market of products such as songs, the MusicLab model implies that showing popularity means fewer cultural products of varying quality are consumed overall, and some high-quality products may go unnoticed.

But the effects are even more severe for a market of ideas, such as Facebook. The “rich get richer” effect compounds over time like interest on a mortgage. The total popularity of one idea can increase exponentially and quickly dominate the entire market.

As a result, the first idea on the market has more time to grow and has increased chances of dominating regardless of its quality (a strong first-mover advantage).


Read more: We made deceptive robots to see why fake news spreads, and found a weakness


This first-mover advantage partially explains why fake news items so often dominate their debunking, and why it is so hard to replace wrong and detrimental beliefs with correct or healthier alternatives that arrive later in the game.

Despite what is sometimes claimed, the “marketplace of ideas” is no guarantee that high-quality content will become popular.

Other lines of research suggest that while quality ideas do make it to the top, it is next to impossible to predict early which ones. In other words, quality appears disconnected from popularity.

Is there any way the game can be fixed?

This seems to paint a bleak picture of online society, in which misinformation, populist ideas, and unhealthy teen challenges can freely flow through online media and capture the public’s attention.

However, the other group in the MusicLab experiment – the group who were not shown a popularity indicator – can give us hope for a solution, or at least some improvement.

The researchers reported that hiding the number of downloads led to a much fairer and more predictable market, in which popularity is more evenly distributed among a greater number of competitors and more closely correlated to quality.

So it appears that Facebook’s decision to hide the number of likes on posts could be better for everyone.

In addition to limiting pressure on post creators and reducing their levels of anxiety and envy, it might also help to create a fairer information exchange environment.

And if posters spend less time on optimising post timing and other tricks for gaming the system, we might even notice an increase in content quality.The Conversation

Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, Lecturer in Computer Science, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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News organisations and their journalists have been competing for consumers’ eyes and ears for hundreds of years. While the media industry has been turned on its head in the last 20 or so years, many of the principles that underpin competitive journalism have remained unchanged.

Understanding these principles and applying them to your brand’s content strategy will dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your content.

The concept of a ‘brand newsroom’ is not new. However, unless your newsroom lives and breathes traditional newsroom values it is merely a content production studio. Here are five principles you can apply to your content strategy.

1. Deadline Discipline

While the news cycle for daily and weekly newspapers have changed significantly since the proliferation of online news sites and a digital-first approach, the tyranny of deadlines remains.

Regardless of whether you are the newest cadet at your local weekly paper or a senior columnist at the biggest paper in the country – your day is ruled by deadlines. Some are hourly, some are daily, some are weekly (Saturday editions) and some monthly (liftouts).

Newspaper deadlines are immovable, intractable and policed by irascible editors.

The best content, like news, is fresh. A piece of content that’s not timely can quickly become irrelevant. Building a culture of deadline discipline to your brand newsroom will greatly improve the consistency and timeliness of your outputs.

2. Understand Your Audience

Newsrooms have got creating quality content en masse down to a fine art because it’s their raison d’être. They know that to really get people reading, their content needs to be audience-centric.

A few years ago the Financial Times launched a new digital data dashboard to help journalists and editors in the newsroom better understand their audience and how people interact with stories on the website.

The tool, called Lantern, integrates audience data collected across the entire organisation, which already exists but usually serves business or commercial purposes.

Using Lantern, anyone in the newsroom will be able to find out how their story is doing in real time, but also how the audience engages with it in the longer term.

While developing custom monitoring software is beyond most brands, building a system to monitor traffic, engagement  and feedback is critical to understanding your audience and constantly evolving your content to reflect the needs of your audience.

3. Employee Journalists

With so many of the skills and disciplines required to develop highly engaging content learnt in the newsroom, it is little wonder journalists often make the best content producers. Only journalists who have spent a considerable amount of time in a newsroom understand the agility and flexibility required to produce great content on a consistent basis under tight timelines.

Journalists also have specific training in writing great headlines, undertaking thorough research, prioritising accuracy, separating content from fluff, building relationships, writing in news style and understanding complex issues quickly. All of these are invaluable to a brand newsroom.

READ MORE:10 Skills That Make Journalists the Secret Weapon for Your Content Team

4. Apply News Values

Journalists commonly use six values to determine how newsworthy a story or elements of a story are. Knowing the news values can help a journalist make many decisions, including:

 – What information to give first in a news article, and in the lede (the lead paragraph)

 – Which articles to display on a newspaper’s front page

 – What questions to ask in an interview

The six news values are:

  • Timeliness- Recent events have a higher news value than less recent ones.
  • Proximity- Stories taking place in one’s hometown or community are more newsworthy than those taking place far away.
  • Prominence- Famous people and those in the public eye have a higher news value than ordinary citizens.
  • Uniqueness/oddity- A story with a bizarre twist or strange occurrences. “Man bites dog” instead of “dog bites man.”
  • Impact- Stories that impact a large number of people may be more newsworthy than those impacting a smaller number of people.
  • Conflict- “If it bleeds, it leads.” Stories with strife, whether it’s actual violence or not, are more interesting.

The newsworthiness of a story is determined by a balance of these six values. There is no set formula to decide how newsworthy a story is, but in general, the more of these six values a story meets, the more newsworthy it is.

Curate

Not every piece of content needs to win a Pulitzer. Volume counts. Recent research by HubSpot found a clear and direct correlation between the number of monthly blog posts and inbound traffic.




Sometimes your job is simply to act as a gatekeeper and curator of other people’s content. Too many brand newsrooms put too much emphasis on creating ‘original’ content.

Sometimes finding and reconextualising a third-party’s content is just as valuable to toy your audience, but infinitely less time consuming and onerous.

For most brands, relying on the product alone is not enough to sustain the ongoing volume required to build and engage with an audience. They need to establish a rich extrinsic brand narrative that can be continuously refreshed. 

Conclusion

An effective content strategy is build on the continuous development and broad-based publishing of highly engaging content that builds awareness and drives action.

Delivering an effective content strategy, particularly on a constrained budget, is all about consistency and quality. Learning how newsrooms do this is the first step to creating your own brand newsroom.


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Blog
Ah, Monopoly. Parker Brothers’ accurate prediction of the current Sydney housing market, and perhaps the leading cause of animosity between family members during power outages.

It’s McDonalds Monopoly time, possibly the most obvious example of gamification, where the dynamic duo dangle the veritable deep-fried carrot in front of millions of Australians who are battle-hardened against most marketing efforts of the fast food juggernaught.

Gamification McDonalds Monopoly
Game On

Gamification, simply put – is a marketing campaign masquerading as a game, which serves to bridge the engagement gap between business and customer to improve the likelihood of conversion. This method is proven to increase engagement, loyalty, the consumer experience and above all – move product.

How is gamification profitable? McDonalds simply restrict the quantity of specific pieces of the Monopoly real estate tokens, naturally mitigating any risk associated with too many winners. After all – the game isn’t designed to get you into that brand new Suzuki Vitara, the game is designed to make the business money.

Maccas adds another gamification layer to their marketing in their flashy, yet UX challenged phone app. This provides a modern, yet equally frustrating electronic version on the classic board game, while doubling as a facility to claim and collect your tokens.

But if winning a major prize is statistically improbable, what’s the point? Enter the consolation prize, designed almost entirely to claw you back into the restaurant: ‘Instant Win’ prizes like chips or a small soft drink. When you go to redeem these are they REALLY all you’re going to get? No, you’re likely going to order an entire meal, plus the free fries – because you want those additional tickets. On top of that, Chance Card tokens are also provided as another layer of gamification, unlocking mini-games in the app to win yet more tokens or prizes. Gameception.


Can I Play?

If you haven’t already disappeared to make the hunger-fuelled pilgrimage to the Golden Arches, how can you leverage gamification for your business?

Lets explore the three main tenets of Gamification: building Motivation, Ability & Triggers. Motivation is the dangling carrot enticing the player to play, while Ability enables the player to play by means of providing the playing field (which includes actual prizes), and Triggers get the player off the bench and into the game when they are made to feel the most empowered.


Motivation: 

Benefit to You: Breaks down barrier between customer and business, adds another person to the funnel.
Benefit to Player: Instills a feeling of easily-achieved win, promise of dopamine kick and tangible ‘prize’.


Ability: 

Benefit to You: Nothing intrinsically, this is essentially entirely a liability in terms of costs associated with prizes and marketing.
Benefit to Player: Available prizes that people instinctively perceive as goals, while being offered the pathway to achieve that goal by you.


Trigger:

Benefit to You: Customer’s illusion of choice, forced to take action by purchasing product in order to begin the game.
Benefit to Player: Starts the game which they have already imagined winning (for a small fee, this holds the most risk for player).


As you can see, this is a zero-sum game when appropriately managed. Where the motivation step benefits both parties, the ability step benefits the player and the trigger benefits the business. Once you’ve quantified your Ability in terms of the value of your marketing investment (prizes, assets & activation), and the Trigger’s value to you (products purchased, emails collected), it’s game on.

Gamification McDonalds Monopoly

Get Your Head In The Game

Obviously a partnership with an international entertainment company is out of the reach of most businesses, so here’s a few good examples of gamification that you could modify to suit your own purposes:


Facebook – Top Fans


Consistently engage with a page’s posts and you’ll have a shiny badge next to your name to show your loyalty to the business when commenting on their posts. This benefits Facebook by ensuring users stay active, benefits the business by increasing post engagement rates and reach, and benefits the user by rewarding them with bragging rights in the form of a tiny badge.


Google Maps – Local Guides Program


Regularly write quality reviews for businesses you visit to increase your profile’s level, earning badges along the way and ascend quicker by writing more comprehensive reviews, or by posting photos and videos. This benefits Google by increasing the value of it’s Maps listings to the end user by bolstering the quantity of submissions while prioritising quality content. Most importantly though, it benefits the business by means of social proofing, boosting perceived trust in the business and promoting it’s good deeds (and punishing bad customer service). Also benefits the reviewer’s profile by positioning them as an authority in their area, and sometimes, winning tangible prizes like socks.


Linkedin – Profile Completion Awards

Linkedin Gamification
Microsoft want you to complete your Linkedin profile a lot further than your name and a photo, and do so by awarding you a self-esteem boosting award to say you’re using the platform effectively. This little feature benefits Linkedin by improving the average profile completion rate, ensuring they stay competitive in a Facebook-controlled ecosystem and above all, increasing the amount of increasingly-valuable user data available to them. This also benefits businesses advertising on the platform by giving a strong insight into who the humans in their sphere (both employees and clients) are, and what makes them tick. Your willingly-surrendered data isn’t simply cast into the aether, it does benefit you by building your personal brand, and ensuring you stay competitive (ie: employable and relevant) in your own field.


Asana – Task Completion Narwhal


Asana is a project management tool which rewards habitual task-completers with a cheerful flying narwhal that flies across the screen every so-often when tasks are marked as complete. This simple animation benefits Asana by catering to younger professionals with this fun imagery, benefits the business using the platform by incentivising task completion, and benefits the user by offering a monotony-busting, unexpected surprise for doing something as simple as ticking a box.


eCommerce – Spin-To-Win


This appears most notably on Wish, where you’re given an opportunity to spin a wheel to win the chance to unlock an extra discount on a number of products dependent on the result of your spin. On other eCommerce websites, this is often a variable ($/%) discount on advertised products which is awarded in the same manner. This Wheel of Fortune benefits the merchant by potentially moving the price-conscious consumer closer to conversion with a small chance-based discount, and benefits the user by appealing to their FOMO, and saving them a small amount on an item they desire. Bonus round: Add a data capture element to this by asking for an email address to unlock the spin. 

Ace Ventura Monopoly Guy

Interested in learning more about gamification and how it can improve your conversion rates? Get in touch, I’d love to talk about how this strategy can put a fun spin on your next campaign.
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HIGH-SPEED change is the new disruptor in the travel industry and the rate of change in the next three years is going to shape and transform society for the next 100 years in a way that we’ve never seen.

Futurist Chris Riddell believes that our future will see a complete reinvention of everything that we see today on planet Earth.

He was presenting in Sydney some of the key changes on our horizon to delegates at Flight Centre Travel Group’s annual event, Illuminate, dedicated to informing and providing insights into the global corporate travel industry.

As a futurist, Riddell looks to see how “humans and business are adapting and changing to see what we can do to get ourselves ready for the future.”

His presentation focused on how the travel industry is going to change and why delegates need to be an extension of what’s happening within the human part of this change. According to Riddell some of the main disruptions shaping our future include:

The Amazon Effect

For the first time in history we’re witnessing on a large scale an online business, Amazon, moving into the offline space. Amazon’s US$13.7 billion purchase in 2017 of bricks-and-mortar organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market sent the share prices of major grocery retailers plummeting overnight. This purchase was the reverse of the mainstream progression of businesses moving from the physical to the digital. Overnight, Amazon became the biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the U.S. by market capitalisation and in doing so shifted us into a world of ‘category killers’ ruling industry.

The big question remaining is which other oppositional business is going to buy up traditional organisations. Might Facebook buy Costco? Will Twitter buy Target?

In the business of data, Google (Alphabet) is the biggest data company on earth – there is no close number two. We’re leaping into a world where category killers are dominating industry.

Trust Issues

We’re emerging from one of the biggest trust crises we have ever had. Our trust in organisations in the private and public sectors is at an all-time low. Data crises including with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytics scandal have eroded trust in those companies whose business is data. Similarly, the Volkswagen emissions scandal and consumer confidence in the U.S. along with many other public corporate crises has dented our trust in many big brands. The question then is how do we move ahead? 

Riddell believes that trust fundamentally is not going to go back to previous levels and that we will have to reinvent trust to be able to move forward. He says technology will be an enabler for us to reinvent trust. In the tech sector, the makers of wearable technology are faring better when it comes to trust – the value of the experience we get from wearable devices, for example, compared to the data we share is on parity, and this puts us in a place of trust with these brands.

Feeding the beast

The truth is though that we are worried about robotics, technology and our future. Nearly everything we do, from getting on an aeroplane, checking into a hotel, hiring a car, involves generating a lot of data, which ‘feeds the beast’ in terms of telling companies about our likes, habits and preferences. In order for many interactions with companies and their apps to succeed we need to keep feeding them a whole lot of data. Data is one of the most important resources that we have, and it truly has become the ‘new oil’. In order to win trust with customers, you need to create exceptional value every single time.

One of the fastest growing sectors in the world is the healthcare sector where the accumulation of data is presenting many opportunities but also structural and privacy concerns. The ability to run your own heart tests through portable technology that will become more accessible is mirrored by companies like 23andme.com, where you can send off a $100 test sample to a company and receive in return a full DNA spectrum on your health. This is prompting many people to start seeking treatment for conditions that they don’t yet have and putting severe strain on the health system.

Addiction to technology

We live in a new age where we are addicted to technology and yet are continually distracted by it. Technology from companies like Apple and Microsoft is now invading even personal intimate offline moments we are meant to have with each other. Consumers now have more technology power in their pockets than many organisations have, and replace their technology faster. This has created a power balance shift, where consumers now own the experience and will dictate the experience they will want to have with us. What we have to do now is keep up with this data transfer and reinvent ourselves.

The sharing economy, block-chain, augmented intelligence and the internet-of-things are the changes that are going to be impacting the travel industry and anyone connected to travel. What this means is that organisations are now getting so much data and opportunity to get insight from individual human beings than we have ever had before. No longer can we just ‘pigeon-hole’ people, but we have to use this data to create tailored, individual experiences. ‘Augmented intelligence’ is about blending humanity and technology together to create experiences that just a few years ago you never thought were possible.

Chris Riddell’s challenge is: “If you want to be in business beyond tomorrow, you need to start thinking about the future like a technology company. You have to keep up with this relentless pace of change that we are going through. Your job is to see where the opportunities lie for you, because this is the most exciting time to ever be a human being on planet earth.”

Illuminate 2019 was supported by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate businesses – FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, cievents, Stage and Screen Travel Services and 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting.


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You’ve been hearing Google preaching about the mobile experience for some time now. “Make sure your website is mobile friendly!” they say, and while being just ‘friends’ has its benefits, you really need a stronger connection than that.

Google have announced that all new domains will default to mobile-first indexing as of 1st July 2019. This isn’t unexpected, and is a logical step considering that mobile devices account for over 2/3 of internet traffic.

Google announced plans for mobile-first indexing in 2016, but for a lot of people, 2019 may be the first time they’ve heard of it. Mobile-first indexing is Google’s way of saying they are solely prioritising the mobile experience of a website when assigning organic search rankings, meaning how well your website performs on mobile is now the deciding factor of how well you can rank in organic search results.

“But I already own my domain!” you say. While this announcement specifically mentions new domains, an earlier Google announcement in December 2018 revealed that more than half of websites crawled are already subject to mobile-first indexing.

Look At His Little Socks

Urge to open an eCommerce site for dog socks rising… (Source: Tumblr/hypedogs)

But Why Is Mobile-First Indexing Important?

Access your Google Analytics dashboard and view your traffic sources. There’s a good chance you’re looking at a large slice of pie that illustrates you’re receiving a LOT of traffic from organic search results.

Let’s say you sold customised socks for dogs online. You receive 80,000 visitors per month, 40% of that traffic came from organic search (32,000 visitors), a 2% conversion rate and an average order value of $20.

1,600 visitors bought socks, with $32,000 in revenue.

What if half of that organic search traffic disappeared overnight?

Now only 1,280 visitors bought socks, netting $25,600 in revenue.

You just lost $6,400.

Don’t Panic

By not prioritising mobile-first indexing via improving your website’s mobile experience you run the risk of your hard-earned rankings slipping into the abyss of search results beyond page 1, resulting in valuable organic traffic being lost to competitors.

An eCommerce example was used above, however the same logic can be applied to lead generation websites (especially small business) or informational websites that generate advertising revenue. Leads have a quantifiable dollar value once you’ve determined their weight, but Display advertising is generally paid for by impressions (views), and if you’ve lost a sizeable number of eyeballs viewing because of fingers not clicking, your hip pocket will feel the pinch next.

Google PageSpeed Insights Mobile First Indexing

Ouch. Room for improvement?

So What Can I Do?

This is an important strategy to consider immediately, take the time to create a measured and rational strategy to accommodate mobile-first indexing to preserve (or improve) your organic search rankings.

Try these easy tests first:

  • Check your site’s Page Speed Index here, is the mobile score green? What are the most problematic areas?
  • Or, view your site on your mobile device, is it legible? Do certain items take up too much space on screen? Do you have intrusive popups?

If you’re not seeing promising results using these tools, or if you need a hand navigating the jargon, get in touch with us here at RGC Media & Mktng to discuss the best way for you to navigate 2019.

Feature Image: Talladega Nights (2006) 

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Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

Noisy, ugly and dirty. Advertising has polluted cities, annoyed consumers, and jeopardised its own existence. Beyond a mass-media cacophony, brand communications’ significant carbon footprint and runaway consumption are certainly contributing to what economists call market failure.

In the UK, for instance, advertising produces 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. That’s equivalent to heating 364,000 UK homes for a year, according to CarbonTrack.

In this sense, should messages such as a City of Melbourne campaign inviting people to cycle more even be allowed? On the one hand, it is better to communicate a solution (cycling) to the issue than not. On the other, if the communication contributes to the problem more than the solution, what’s the point of it?

Jerry Seinfeld’s 2014 infamous line at the Clio awards called out the advertising sector to its face:

I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.

Jerry Seinfeld’s speech about advertising at the 2014 Clio Awards.

Still, contrary to that sentiment, marketers and their brands can (and should) move away from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution for sustainable development and the industry’s own sustainability.

Offering A New Outlook

The urbanisation megatrend wholly underpins other forces shaping the way we live, now and in the future. Although cities occupy only 2% of Earth’s landmass, that is where 75% of energy consumption occurs. Advertising growth is also concentrated in big cities.

Because of increased demand for ever more comfortable lifestyles, urban infrastructures have been feeling “growing pains” for decades now. Whether it’s energy, education, health, waste management or safety, cities’ services are struggling to keep up with their larger and “hungrier” populations.

The strategic opportunity here is to reframe brand communications from the promotion of conspicuous consumption to becoming a regenerative force in the economy of cities. That means using brands’ touch points as more than mere messengers, but rather delivering public utility services. I’ve coined it Urban Brand-Utility.

For example, Domino’s Pizza’s Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes, cracks and bumps said to be responsible for “irreversible damage” to pizzas during the drive home.

This may sound silly, but the US National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission estimates that simply to maintain the nation’s highways, roads and bridges requires investment by all levels of government of US$185 billion a year for the next 50 years. Today, the US invests about US$68 billion a year.

The Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes that Domino’s says ‘can cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive home’. Domino’s Pizza

According to Bill Scherer, mayor of Bartonville, Texas: “This unique, innovative partnership allowed the town of Bartonville to accomplish more potholes repairs.” Eric Norenberg, city manager of Milford, Delaware, said: “We appreciated the extra Paving for Pizza funds to stretch our street repair budget as we addressed more potholes than usual.”

In Moscow, major Russian real estate developers approached Sberbank to collaborate on better infrastructure planning in residential areas. People’s opinions on local needs fuelled targeted campaigns, promoting loans for small businesses. The “Neighbourhoods” campaign generated nine times as many small-business responses as traditional bank loan advertising.

The ‘Neighbourhoods’ campaign sought people’s opinions on local neighbourhood needs.

In other words, people had their needs met. And neighbourhoods become more attractive as a result. The city increases tax collection from the new businesses being set up, which also reduces the costs of having to deal with derelict areas.

A Shift To Serving Citizen-Consumers

If we could see ourselves as citizen-consumers, as opposed to individual shoppers in the market, every dollar spent would enable business to tackle the issues that matter most.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. Let’s assume Domino’s Paving for Pizza program is taken to its full potential, generating a large surplus to the City of Bartonville by minimising the costs of repairing potholes. Rather than treating this as a one-off campaign, smart mayors would try to create a virtuous cycle, where the city retains 50% of the surplus, 25% is returned to the advertiser, and 25% goes to the agency and media owner – a value only unlocked by repeating the approach.

This way, marketing budgets are effectively turned into investment funds. The returns are in the form of brand cut-through, happier customers, social impact and more effective city management, as shown in the model below.

In a circular economy, products and services go beyond an end user’s finite life cycle. Similarly, Urban Brand-Utility looks at brand communications as closed loops by designing a system bigger than fixed campaign periods, target audiences and business-as-usual KPIs.

Brands with some level of foresight will be able to broaden their audiences from customers to citizens and their revenue model from sales to the creation of shared value. These will be game-changers for profit and prosperity.

Markets, choice and competition are not just a consumer’s best friend, but their civic representation. After all, as one of the tribunes asks the crowd in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “What is the city but the people?”

Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Social marketers are saying that their biggest goal with social media is to increase awareness and more than half (59%) use social to support their sales and lead generation objectives according to the latest findings from the Sprout Social Index.

Developing a strategy that supports their organisation’s goals is listed as the number one challenge that they face (nearly half of social marketers) and 43% saying that a major challenge is properly identifying and understanding their social audience.

Planning and strategy are even more important than ever for a social media campaign to have true effectiveness and social listening, monitoring your brand’s social media channels for customer feedback and insights, will become even more important, a fact known to social marketers.

According to the report social marketer’s top goals for social include:

  • Increase Brand Awareness 70%;
  • Sales/Lead Generation 59%;
  • Increase Community Engagement 48%;
  • Grow My Brand’s Audience;
  • Increase Web Traffic 45%.

But how do marketers define engagement when measuring social success? 72% seek likes and/or comments; 62% desire shares and/or retweets; 60% seek interaction with consumers; and 34% desire revenue attribution. Inspiring consumers to take action (32%) and inspiring an emotional response were indicated by 29% of marketers.

What Social Platforms Do Marketers And Consumers Use?

Marketers Follow Brands On:Consumers Follow Brands On:
Facebook 89%Facebook 66%
Instagram 65%Instagram 41%
Twitter 50%Twitter 22%
Youtube 49%Youtube 35%
Facebook Messenger 44%Facebook Messenger 13%
LinkedIn 38%LinkedIn 6%
Snapchat 28%Snapchat 14%
Pinterest 28%Pinterest 17%

89% of marketers say they use Facebook as part of their brand’s social strategy.

What Does Your Audience Want?

To align your goals with consumer actions it is important to know how and why consumers are using social media.

The report revealed:

Why Consumers Follow Brands On Social Media

Why Consumers Unfollow Brands In Social Media


A good understanding of these responses is required to align your social media activity to truly engage with consumers and not alienate them with irrelevant or ‘spammy’ content.

Social Posts That Encourage Consumers Likes And Shares

What sort of posts are likely to elicit a positive response from consumers?

Type Of PostLike/Comment OnShare
Posts That Entertain67%55%
Posts That Inspire57%50%
Posts That Teach46%38%
Posts That Tell A Story38%37%
Discounts Or Sales37%38%

There’s been a shift away by consumers of discounts and sales and a flight to entertaining and inspiring content compared to previous surveys.

Whilst Facebook continues to dominate the social landscape, marketers need to dig deeper to understand their audience and understand that consumers want to be engaged and entertained before they buy.

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