Friday, September 21, 2018

Does Buying Instagram Followers Work?

You might know your Instagram content is good, but imagine how much better it will seem if it looks like 10,000 people agree.

Whether you’re trying to become a social media celebrity or simply looking to spread brand awareness on Instagram, it can seem tempting to pay for your first couple thousand followers.Download 25 free Instagram templates to increase engagement and elevate your presence. 

There are plenty of services available that allow you to buy 1,000 followers for the price of a small Starbucks latte. But of course, if it really was that cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it. So what’s the catch? Is buying Instagram followers legal and safe for your business? Is it a worthwhile investment?

Here, we’ve gone ahead and covered all the questions you might have about buying Instagram followers to give you a better idea of how it actually works. We’ve also explored the pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good move for your brand.

As a quick Google search will reveal, there are many cheap services you can use to buy Instagram followers. For about $6 USD, you can get 500 followers, and for about $10 USD, you can get 1,000 followers.

The vast majority of these purchasable followers, however, are either bots or inactive accounts.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

In addition to buying followers directly, you can also pay services to strategically follow other accounts on your behalf based on your preferences (location, hashtag usage, account type, and gender). Ideally, those followed accounts will then follow you back.

With this option, your followers are more likely to be real people, but engagement is still unlikely. Since you can't even guarantee these accounts will follow you back, it’s a risky investment. Most accounts won’t follow you back, and even if they do, they probably aren’t going to be long-term, loyal, or active followers.

If your priority is simply to have a big follower count, these services can definitely help you. When your number of organic followers dips, these services even replenish your pool with other followers.

But remember the risks: these followers will probably never like or comment on a post, and if you’re caught with a ton of fake followers, you could ruin your credibility with your real audience.

Think of it this way: would you keep following an account if you saw that most of their “loyal audience” were inactive accounts or bots? I’m guessing not. It could seem deceitful, and lead you to believe the brand couldn’t get authentic followers through good content alone.

You're buying fake Instagram followers.

The main reason buying Instagram followers can prove to be a wasted investment is because the accounts you follow often aren't real.

Fake followers are created either because they're managed by users whose only goal is to get followed in return, or because these accounts are sponsored by services that sell followers -- as we discussed in the section above. And while these accounts might offer early engagement, they'll ultimately become a drain on your Instagram account's performance metrics (we'll get to that in just a minute).

You'll get early engagement that tapers off.

Purchased Instagram followers also provide no long-term value to your profile's content. The followers you buy might give you views, likes, and comments early into acquiring them as a follower, but the attention they throw you now won't be there later -- when you start reporting on how your Instagram account is performing.

And how helpful, really, are 10,000 followers that don't engage with you? Engagement is key to how Instagram’s algorithm displays posts to users. Without likes or comments, your post probably won’t show up on your audience’s newsfeeds, and it also won’t show up on any Explore Pages.

Having a lot of followers could convince users to follow you organically, but it's not a guarantee.

Users might notice you don’t have a ton of engagement on your posts, which could deter them from following you. If you have 10,000 followers but only four likes per post, it won't take people long to realize something is up.

Without real followers to engage with your content, your posts are essentially hidden from everyone except your inauthentic audience. Plus, your fake followers won’t share your post on any of their channels. And they won’t discuss your brand in real life with friends or family, because, well … they don’t exist in real life (no offense, bots).

Bought Instagram followers can distort your performance metrics.

It’s practically impossible to measure how well your target audience is connecting with your brand if a high percentage of that audience isn’t real. How will you measure posts that do well with your real audience if those bots and inactive accounts skew the ratio?

If you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks, you’ll never convert your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?

Ultimately, if you pay for Instagram followers, you aren’t paying for quality, real-life followers. You’re paying for a blank number. And since Instagram’s algorithm is largely tied to engagement, not followers, buying followers isn’t a long-term solution. In fact, it isn’t really a solution at all.

Take the time, energy, and money that you would’ve dedicated to buying followers, and focus instead on building genuine relationships with a real audience. If your content is engaging and authentic, your loyal followers will spread the word and engage with your brand without needing any bribes.

Instagram Templates

19 Awesome SEO Blogs and Websites You'll Want to Bookmark

Search engine optimization (SEO) standards are constantly changing. Like social media, email marketing, and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), search engines are improving the way in which they deliver results to users every day.

To do this, they're focusing on things like localization, page authority, click-through rate, and even searches that come from voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Stop wasting time on SEO strategies that don't work with the help of this free PDF guide >>

As a marketer, it is critical to keep up with all of this news. Here's our reading list of the best SEO blogs on the internet today to help you become a better marketer.

19 of the Best SEO Blogs on the Internet Today

1. The Moz Blog

Moz has become the gold standard for SEO solutions and how-to articles. The Moz Blog's team of contributors offers an article per day to help expand your knowledge of search marketing.

2. Neil Patel

Neil Patel and his team of talented marketers break marketing news from every end of the spectrum -- SEO being one of them. And their videos are just as intriguing as their blog posts.

3. Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land is one of the best search engine blogs for in-depth news and analysis of the search marketing industry.

4. Search Engine Journal

From link building to the latest algorithm changes from Google, Search Engine Journal covers news and tactics related to the search engine marketing industry.

5. Search Engine Roundtable

For detailed discussion and explanations of the fine details of search engine marketing, Search Engine Roundtable has you covered.

6. SEMrush Blog

SEMrush's blog is on the cutting edge of today's SEO trends, offering advice on SEO through a variety of lenses -- from app development, to social media, to voice search.

7. SEO Book

For reviews of the newest SEO tools to analysis of search engine changes, check out SEO Book.

8. Tubular Insights

Tubular Insights is a resource for marketers looking to learn more about online video's impact on search engine marketing.

9. Yoast

Yoast is a training and website integration for those who want to learn how to optimize their website. Its blog covers tactics for improving SEO as well as user experience.

10. Biznology

This blog discusses many SEO-related issues, but has recently focused on content marketing and its connection to SEO.

11. DailySEOBlog

Are you a fan of sites that provide a tip per day? This might be the blog for you, offering tips and tricks to help support your search engine optimization strategy.

12. Distilled Blog

The team at Distilled provides insights and musings across digital marketing, using SEO as the vehicle for that conversation.

13. GeoLocalSEO

If local and mobile search is your interest, the GeoLocalSEO blog is a resource you should check out for tips and tricks related to the local and mobile search industry.

14. Google Webmaster Central Blog

When working in the search marketing industry, you must know what the search engines are doing. Google's Webmaster Blog gives search marketers insights into the changes and updates to Google.

15. John Battelle's Search Blog

A co-founder of WIRED Magazine and a search engine marketing pioneer, Battelle's musings cover search and much more.

16. Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is critical to SEO success. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is a hub for content marketers to learn and share insight on SEO, storytelling, social media, and more.

17. SEO Copywriting

Copy is a critical part of SEO success. This blog goes into more detail than most about the best practices of SEO copywriting.

18. Search Engine Watch

This multi-author blog was recommended by several readers and covers a wide variety of search marketing issues.

19. SEO by the Sea

Founded by longtime marketer Bill Slawski, this SEO outlet digs deep into search engines' own records to give you some of the meatiest news and analysis on the latest ranking criteria.

Find a headline you like? Bookmark a few of these blogs and get out ahead of your industry -- your content is counting on you.

Skill Up

How to Fire Someone: A Step-by-Step Guide to Letting an Employee Go

To terminate is to bring to an end. And if you've ever had to figure out how to terminate an employee, you know things don’t get much harder or sadder. Most managers dread this part of the job more than any other.

And frankly, you should feel a little dread when parting ways with an employee -- it's what makes you human. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to ensure the conversation goes smoothly.

Due to feelings of guilt, uncertainty about the decision, legal concerns, and excuses by the team member, many managers don’t let poor performers go when they should (or at all). And when they do take action, almost every termination conversation is stressful.

But keeping poor performers on the team is a disservice to other team members, clients, the organization, and even to the employee in question. Lower standards are infectious and can bring down the aspiration level of other team members, and poor performers often incite resentment. Taking action puts other low performers on notice, helps managers meet goals, and ensures clients get the value and care they need.

Time and time again I have been told by colleagues and managers who have lost their jobs that the worst part wasn't the termination itself but how the message was delivered. To quote one colleague, "The message was dropped like a bomb."

When it is time to let a team member go, the process you use -- while it does not change the result -- significantly alters the experience and reduces chances of litigation. Knowing how to terminate an employee properly makes managers more confident and compassionate, and team members more accepting of the person's exit.

1. Inform the human resources team.

Having made the decision to let someone go, review the employee handbook first. Make sure your grounds for termination are in line with company policy and that you're ready to inform the right people beforehand.

Usually, the first people you notify of a firing are human resources (HR) and legal. Both teams will explain how to terminate the employee, and inform IT and security so they can disconnect the employee's office equipment after they leave. Work with HR to calculate final compensation and/or severance, and collect all documentation and paperwork you'll need for the employee's departure (we'll go over paperwork in Step 7).

Don't have the termination conversation alone. Ideally include a colleague from HR or one of your peers as a witness during the termination.

2. Set up a meeting with the employee.

Once HR has been notified of the intended firing, set up a meeting with the employee. Having the meeting right away is ideal, but if their schedule simply doesn't allow, it should be fairly soon after the meeting invitation. If asked what the meeting is about, use your discretion, but say that you prefer to flesh out the details during the meeting.

Or, if the discussion will be by phone, focus the exchange on when there will be adequate time to talk (we'll talk about how to fire someone over the phone following the final step of this process).

If you have the choice, firing an employee is best done face-to-face in a private setting. This allows you to set a serious but supportive tone and present everything the employee will need to know -- including any relevant paperwork about health insurance, severance, or unemployment.

3. Lead with the bad news.

The very first thing out of your mouth in the termination meeting should be to let the person know he or she is being let go. Offering too much context or lead-up before the firing itself might seem mature, but it can ultimately make the termination feel unofficial and leave the employee with too much to dwell on after they leave.

Do not rescind the decision to fire this person unless new and compelling evidence is presented. But don't go looking for this information. You may let the employee offer their point of view, but it's unusual for it to invalidate a firing at this point in the process.

4. Reference previous performance goals.

The fourth step in a proper firing process depends on something you were (hopefully) doing in advance of this meeting: tracking their performance and supporting them every step of the way. When letting someone go, it's important that you politely allude to the warnings and guidance they were given at various points during their employment.

With enough coaching sessions, the termination meeting will have followed a 'final consequence' meeting, where you clearly spell out the objectives to be accomplished, the time frame in which to accomplish them, and most importantly, the consequence if the objectives are not met -- i.e. the person will lose their job.

Document all of these coaching sessions in writing prior to the termination meeting. Don't have documentation? Meet with HR and consider putting the person on a 30-, 60-, or 90-day performance plan before officially severing them from the company. This gives them a chance to actually improve, while providing you with the right paperwork if the person ultimately doesn't.

The value of a performance improvement plan is, among other things, to ensure the employee doesn't feel blindsided if they end up getting fired. In fairness to the person, termination should never come as a surprise (unless it's due to an egregious act or part of corporate downsizing).

5. Keep your explanation short but specific.

When referencing the employee's past performance, there's a fine but important line between explaining why they've been terminated and simply making them feel worse. Keep your reason brief and clear.

For example, “We set [objective X] to be accomplished by [date Y] and unfortunately this wasn't met.” More detailed feedback on this objective should have been given in performance reviews.

There are two reasons to keep the meeting short:

  1. You don't want to get into an argument or long discussion. The decision has been made and is non-negotiable. While clear feedback is very important for growth, it should have already been given at this point.
  2. There's no need to further hurt the person's feelings. The employee may vent and ask questions, but just listen and repeat your concise message.

Don’t give a long list of failures. It will only pour salt in the wound, create resentment, and provoke an argument.

6. Listen and repeat your decision.

Despite your best attempts at making a termination quick and painless, you might still receive lengthy responses of rebuttals from the employee. That's alright -- they should feel willing to express themselves. What they shouldn't feel is that the decision to fire them is still being made.

Listen to what your employee has to say and genuinely take heed in their feedback -- this is probably a conversation you'll have again in your career, and the employee's viewpoint is valuable. But unless they offer any substantial evidence that there's been a mistake, continue to reiterate that their employment is no longer needed.

7. Provide continued healthcare paperwork and related next steps.

Clearly define next steps with the terminated employee (yes, there are some important ones you need to take). The first is to clarify the effective date of termination; in many companies, this means immediately.

Then, communicate your severance policy, if you have one, and explain how the employee may continue their health insurance for a limited time after they leave. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 -- commonly referred to as COBRA -- allows terminated employees to extend their health insurance coverage after they depart. HR normally hands over COBRA paperwork during terminations, but it's important that you show your awareness of this crucial step, too.

Once you've gone over each next step with the team member, identify who will accompany them back to their desk to gather their things.

8. Thank the employee for their services and wish them luck.

Your last step during a firing is to thank the person for the services. Don’t apologize, but say you wish things had worked out differently and extend best wishes for the future.

One last tip: Avoid Friday terminations. Monday is widely preferred because the employee can start making contacts more easily during the week.

Firing someone via a phone call isn't ideal, but sometimes, the nature of their employment justifies it. Maybe they're a remote employee who can't easily travel to the office -- and doing so just to lose their job would make the whole conversation even more off-putting. Perhaps they're a freelancer for the company, and a short phone call is all that's needed to take them out of your contractor rotation.

No matter the reason, there's a right way to handle a termination over the phone.

1. Set up a phone meeting with the employee.

Just as you would for a face-to-face termination, make sure you set up a meeting with the employee in advance of the call -- and make sure he or she is aware it's taking place over the phone.

If you have the means, consider hosting the call via video chat instead, allowing you and the employee to see each other even if they're not present in the room with you (it's an integrity move, trust me).

As a gesture of courtesy, be the one to call the employee yourself, and let them know you'll be the one to do so. Given the nature of the phone call, it's more polite to do as much of the heavy-lifting to get the call off the ground, and having the employee call into their own termination can make you seem uninterested in what should have been a tough decision.

2. Have human resources present (and introduce them).

Make sure a member of your HR team is present on the call with you. But because the employee on the other end won't know there's three of you on the line, make sure you introduce the rep. HR will be speaking in this conversation, and having them randomly interject without the employee knowing they were in the room can seem rude and negligent.

3. Have next steps and healthcare paperwork ready to email to the employee.

Before you call this employee, work with HR to get the proper next steps and COBRA healthcare paperwork ready to email to them after the call ends. Getting fired gives an employee a lot to chew on, and giving them all the resources they'll need to land on their feet is crucial when they're not in the room with you to receive this information.

4. Lead with the bad news.

You heard this advice in the above steps to firing someone in person. Well, the same principle applies to a phone-based termination. Always begin with the fact that the company is parting ways with the employee, whether that employee is in the room with you or not.

5. Reference performance goals and give the employee the floor to respond.

Alluding to the employee's past performance goals, and how they were not reached, is just as important on a phone call as it is in person. But because they can't see how this conversation is unfolding, give the team member a verbal invitation to respond once you've informed them of the situation.

6. Inform them that you'll be sending a follow-up email.

Pending any evidence by the employee that their employment shouldn't end, reiterate that the company has agreed this is the best decision for both parties.

To minimize resistance even more, and to keep the phone call moving in the right direction, be sure to inform the employee that you (or HR) will be sending them a follow-up email with all the necessary paperwork confirming their departure. This is also your opportunity to send an electronic COBRA healthcare document, allowing the employee to sustain their healthcare coverage for a limited time after employment.

Does the employee has any belongings that are in the office with you? Ask the employee to confirm, and make a note on this email that you'll mail each item to the employee at their desired address.

7. Thank the employee for their services and wish them luck.

Don't linger too much just because it's a phone call. It can be hard enough to bring conversations to a close over the phone, and while you want to give the employee time to react, you don't want to leave too many awkward silences when they can't see your reaction on the other end of the line (just another reason to have this meeting over video chat). Simply thank them very much for their services to the company and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

While termination is often the best thing for both parties in the end, it’s hard for most people to recognize this at the time. What the steps above help you do is dismiss your employee as considerately as possible. Compassion and making sure nothing in the meeting is a surprise are the keys to avoid burning bridges.

Concerns about litigation have tempered termination conversations and added another dimension of stress to these already challenging conversations. Nevertheless, I think it is important to express at the conclusion that you regret things worked out as they did and wish the person success in the future. When thinking about how to terminate an employee, keep your message objective but your tone human.

I started with the definition of termination -- to bring to an end. Professionally, that is what you are doing. But the emotional tone you set -- one of caring and respect -- will make a difference in the short- and long-run. No matter how bad the team member has been, show you have heart.

This blog post has provided information designed to help our readers better understand the legal issues surrounding HR. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we have conducted research to better ensure that our information is accurate and useful, we insist that you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is accurate. To clarify further, you may not rely upon this information as legal advice, nor as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular legal understanding, and you should instead regard this article as intended for entertainment purposes only.

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How to Delete Twitter [Easy Guide]

There are a few reasons you might be considering deleting Twitter. Maybe your friends don't use it anymore. Perhaps you spend too much time on it, and believe you'd be more productive without it.

Whatever the reason, it's easy to deactivate your Twitter account. Twitter even gives you a 30 day grace period to reactivate your account, in case you change your mind. However, it should be noted once the 30 days end, your account is gone forever.

If you're ready to permanently delete your Twitter account, follow these five simple steps.

1. Once you've signed into your Twitter account, click your profile icon to find the drop-down menu. Within the menu, select "Settings and privacy".

2. In the Accounts section, click "Deactivate your account".

3. Click "Deactivate".

4. Input your password, and click "Deactivate account".

And that's it! You've officially deleted your account (remember, you have 30 days to reactivate if you change your mind).

For more productivity hacks, check out "The Ultimate Guide to the Best Productivity Apps".

How Cognitive Computing Can Make You a Better Marketer

When Sophia, a robot who uses artificial intelligence to interact with humans (like Jimmy Fallon) visited my college last year, I was awestruck.

At first, I thought Sophia would have a similar intelligence level as a simple bot, like Siri, who can only hold basic conversations and address straightforward questions and requests. But when Sophia’s developer started asking her questions, she completely debunked my assumption. She was articulate, made animated facial expressions, and had a surprisingly quick wit.

Sophia’s ability to intellectually and socially interact with people seems like one of the most exciting advancements in artificial intelligence. But the thing is, she can’t actually understand conversation -- her software is programmed to give scripted responses to common questions or phrases, creating an illusion that she’s naturally interacting with you.

If developers want to create computer systems that can actually interact with humans naturally, they need to program cognitive computing into its software, which is a technology that can understand, learn, and reason like a real person.

Cognitive computing can analyze enormous amounts of data in the same way humans think, reason, and remember, so the technology can provide data-backed recommendations to professionals who need to make high-stakes decisions.

For instance, teachers can develop a personalized learning track for each of their students, doctors can make optimal recommendations for their patients, and marketers can even use cognitive computing to craft more human-centric customer journeys.

Before we delve into how brands are applying cognitive computing to their marketing strategy, though, let's go over what it exactly is.

Since cognitive computing can process massive amounts of data that no human could ever digest and imitate the human brain like no computer system ever has, the technology has amazing potential to amplify our abilities -- not replace us -- and help us make better, data-driven decisions.

Cognitive computing applications in marketing

As marketers, we always want to get better. Refining our process and strategy to solve our customers’ problems is our mission. But to understand which tactics actually work and which ones don’t, we usually need to analyze huge sets of complex data.

Data analysis can seem like a tall task, especially if you’re more of a creative marketer. But today, cognitive computing can crunch the numbers for you, helping you make better decisions faster, and hone important aspects of your brand, like brand voice, reporting, and customer support.

Brand Voice

Gauging your brand voice is one of the most challenging tasks in marketing. Tone is subjective, so while some of your colleagues might think your content reads like a punchy publication’s feature story, others might think it reads like clickbait.

With cognitive computing, however, you can literally plug your content into an algorithm, like Contently’s Tone Analyzer, and the technology will analyze and quantify your brand voice.

The IBM Watson-powered technology scrapes content for as much text as possible and assigns a numerical score to five traits -- expressiveness, formality, sociability, empathy, and emotion -- helping clients learn what their brand voice actually is. Contently’s clients also use the tone analyzer to help them emulate their favorite publications and find freelance writers who can write with their brand’s desired tone.

Reporting

In most enterprise organizations, specific marketing teams usually silo their data, making it hard for the department to track all their customers’ touch points and understand their true buyer’s journey.

The founders ofEquals 3, saw this prevalent problem as a business opportunity, so in 2015, they partnered with IBM Watson to launch Lucy, a cognitive computing marketing solution. Lucy helps Fortune 1000 companies access all their marketing data with natural-language queries on one platform, just like a search engine.

Once organizations feed Lucy their data, she can use AI and cognitive computing to instantly organize their information into specific reports, saving marketers countless hours from manual reporting and providing them with more transparency.

Customer Support

Digital assistants on our phones, like Siri, have pre-programmed responses to a limited amount of requests and questions, but customer support technology with cognitive computing capabilities can actually understand natural language, accurately answer people’s questions, and run customer support more efficiently.

For instance, Hilton Hotels first ever concierge robot, Connie, can help guests figure out the best attractions to go to, the best restaurants to dine in at, and even move and point her body to direct guests toward any spot in the hotel. All they have to do is ask Connie their question, and she can quickly help them out.

With Connie’s assistance, Hilton Hotel employees can ultimately provide better customer service by picking up more phones and checking people in faster.

Will cognitive computing move AI beyond hype and into reality?

Artificial intelligence is one of the most hyped technologies in marketing. But if teams can take full advantage of cognitive computing to serve prospects and customers in a more human way, AI will be as groundbreaking as everyone says it’ll be.

Spectator to Partner: Turn Your Clients into SEO Allies - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Are your clients your allies in SEO, or are they passive spectators? Could they even be inadvertently working against you? A better understanding of expectations, goals, and strategy by everyone involved can improve your client relations, provide extra clarity, and reduce the number of times you're asked to "just SEO a site." In today's Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins outlines tactics you should know for getting clients and bosses excited about the SEO journey, as well as the risks involved in passivity.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week's edition of Whiteboard Friday. I am Kameron Jenkins, and I'm the SEO Wordsmith here at Moz. Today I'm going to be talking with you about how to turn your clients from spectators, passive spectators to someone who is proactively interested and an ally in your SEO journey.

So if you've ever heard someone come to you, maybe it's a client or maybe you're in-house and this is your boss saying this, and they say, "Just SEO my site," then this is definitely for you. A lot of times it can be really hard as an SEO to work on a site if you really aren't familiar with the business, what that client is doing, what they're all about, what their goals are. So I'm going to share with you some tactics for getting your clients and your boss excited about SEO and excited about the work that you're doing and some risks that can happen when you don't do that.

Tactics

So let's dive right in. All right, first we're going to talk about tactics.

1. Share news

The first tactic is to share news. In the SEO industry, things are changing all the time, so it's actually a really great tactic to keep yourself informed, but also to share that news with the client. So here's an example. Google My Business is now experimenting with a new video format for their post feature. So one thing that you can do is say, "Hey, client, I hear that Google is experimenting with this new format. They're using videos now. Would you like to try it?"

So that's really cool because it shows them that you're on top of things. It shows them that you're the expert and you're keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry. It also tells them that they're going to be a part of this new, cutting-edge technology, and that can get them really, really excited about the SEO work you're doing. So make sure to share news. I think that can be really, really valuable.

2. Outline your work

The next tip is to outline your work. This one seems really simple, but there is so much to say for telling a client what you're going to do, doing it, and then telling them that you did it. It's amazing what can happen when you just communicate with a client more. There have been plenty of situations where maybe I did less tangible work for a client one week, but because I talk to them more, they were more inclined to be happy with me and excited about the work I was doing.

It's also cool because when you tell a client ahead of time what you're going to do, it gives them time to get excited about, "Ooh, I can't wait to see what he or she is going to do next." So that's a really good tip for getting your clients excited about SEO.

3. Report results

Another thing is to report on your results. So, as SEOs, it can be really easy to say, hey, I added this page or I fixed these things or I updated this.

But if we detach it from the actual results, it doesn't really matter how much a client likes you or how much your boss likes you, there's always a risk that they could pull the plug on SEO because they just don't see the value that's coming from it. So that's an unfortunate reality, but there are tons of ways that you can show the value of SEO. One example is, "Hey, client, remember that page that we identified that was ranking on page two. We improved it. We made all of those updates we talked about, and now it's ranking on page one. So that's really exciting. We're seeing a lot of new traffic come from it.I'm wondering, are you seeing new calls, new leads, an uptick in any of those things as a result of that?"

So that's really good because it shows them what you did, the results from that, and then it kind of connects it to, "Hey, are you seeing any revenue, are you seeing new clients, new customers," things like that. So they're more inclined to see that what you're doing is making a real, tangible impact on actual revenue and their actual business goals.

4. Acknowledge and guide their ideas

This one is really, really important. It can be hard sometimes to marry best practices and customer service. So what I mean by that is there's one end of the pendulum where you are really focused on best practices. This is right. This is wrong. I know my SEO stuff. So when a client comes to you and they say, "Hey, can we try this?" and you go, "No, that's not best practices,"it can kind of shut them down. It doesn't get them involved in the SEO process. In fact, it just kind of makes them recoil and maybe they don't want to talk to you, and that's the exact opposite of what we want here. On the other end of that spectrum though, you have clients who say, "Hey, I really want to try this.I saw this article. I'm interested in this thing. Can you do it for my website?"

Maybe it's not the greatest idea SEO-wise. You're the SEO expert, and you see that and you go, "Mm, that's actually kind of scary. I don't think I want to do that." But because you're so focused on pleasing your client, you maybe do it anyway. So that's the opposite of what we want as well. We want to have a "no, but" mentality. So an example of that could be your client emails in and says, "Hey, I want to try this new thing."

You go, "Hey, I really like where your head is at. I like that you're thinking about things this way. I'm so glad you shared this with me. I tried this related thing before, and I think that would be actually a really good idea to employ on your website." So kind of shifting the conversation, but still bringing them along with you for that journey and guiding them to the correct conclusions. So that's another way to get them invested without shying them away from the SEO process.

Risks

So now that we've talked about those tactics, we're going to move on to the risks. These are things that could happen if you don't get your clients excited and invested in the SEO journey.

1. SEO becomes a checklist

When you don't know your client well enough to know what they're doing in the real world, what they're all about, the risk becomes you have to kind of just do site health stuff, so fiddling with meta tags, maybe you're changing some paragraphs around, maybe you're changing H1s, fixing 404s, things like that, things that are just objectively, "I can make this change, and I know it's good for site health."

But it's not proactive. It's not actually doing any SEO strategies. It's just cleanup work. If you just focus on cleanup work, that's really not an SEO strategy. That's just making sure your site isn't broken. As we all know, you need so much more than that to make sure that your client's site is ranking. So that's a risk.

If you don't know your clients, if they're not talking to you, or they're not excited about SEO, then really all you're left to do is fiddle with kind of technical stuff. As good as that can be to do, our jobs are way more fun than that. So communicate with your clients. Get them on board so that you can do proactive stuff and not just fiddling with little stuff.

2. SEO conflicts with business goals

So another risk is that SEO can conflict with business goals.

So say that you're an SEO. Your client is not talking to you. They're not really excited about stuff that you're doing. But you decide to move forward with proactive strategies anyway. So say I'm an SEO, and I identify this keyword. My client has this keyword. This is a related keyword. It can bring in a lot of good traffic. I've identified this good opportunity. All of the pages that are ranking on page one, they're not even that good. I could totally do better. So I'm going to proactively go, I'm going to build this page of content and put it on my client's site. Then what happens when they see that page of content and they go, "We don't even do that. We don't offer that product. We don't offer that service."

Oops. So that's really bad. What can happen is that, yes, you're being proactive, and that's great. But if you don't actually know what your client is doing, because they're not communicating with you, they're not really excited, you risk misaligning with their business goals and misrepresenting them. So that's a definite risk.

3. You miss out on PR opportunities

Another thing, you miss out on PR opportunities. So again, if your client is not talking to you, they're not excited enough to share what they're doing in the real world with you, you miss out on news like, "Hey, we're sponsoring this event,"or, "Hey, I was the featured expert on last night's news."

Those are all really, really good things that SEOs look for. We crave that information. We can totally use that to capitalize on it for SEO value. If we're not getting that from our clients, then we miss out on all those really, really cool PR opportunities. So a definite risk. We want those PR opportunities. We want to be able to use them.

4. Client controls the conversation

Next up, client controls the conversation. That's a definite risk that can happen. So if a client is not talking to you, a reason could be they don't really trust you yet. When they don't trust you, they tend to start to dictate. So maybe our client emails in.

A good example of this is, "Hey, add these 10 backlinks to my website." Or, "Hey, I need these five pages, and I need them now." Maybe they're not even actually bad suggestions. It's just the fact that the client is asking you to do that. So this is kind of tricky, because you want to communicate with your client. It's good that they're emailing in, but they're the ones at that point that are dictating the strategy. Whereas they should be communicating their vision, so hey, as a business owner, as a website owner, "This is my vision. This is my goal, and this is what I want."

As the SEO professional, you're receiving that information and taking it and making it into an SEO strategy that can actually be really, really beneficial for the client. So there's a huge difference between just being a task monkey and kind of transforming their vision into an SEO strategy that can really, really work for them. So that's a definite risk that can happen.

Excitement + partnership = better SEO campaigns

There's a lot of different things that can happen. These are just some examples of tactics that you can use and risks. If you have any examples of things that have worked for you in the past, I would love to hear about them. It's really good to information share. Success stories where maybe you got your client or your boss really bought into SEO, more so than just, "Hey, I'm spending money on it."

But, "Hey, I'm your partner in this. I'm your ally, and I'm going to give you all the information because I know that it's going to be mutually beneficial for us." So at the end here, excitement, partner, better SEO campaigns. This is going to be I believe a recipe for success to get your clients and your boss on board. Thanks again so much for watching this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and come back next week for another one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why I Paid $25 to Take a Nap (And You Should, Too)

Blink twice if you typically sleep less than seven hours each night.

Go ahead. I'm not watching, or judging. But if you're part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night -- please, blink twice.

Did you do it? So did I.

I, too, am part of what Eleanor Morgan, chief experience officer at Casper -- the ecommerce company known for its sleep products, including its famed memory foam mattress -- calls the most "under-slept" developed nation (the U.S.) in the world.

This national epidemic of "short sleep duration" -- the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) term for habitually getting less than seven hours of sleep each night -- well, it's resulted in what Morgan has observed as "a lack of joy and happiness related to sleep."

The CDC calls it "frequent mental distress" -- one of the many side effects of regularly getting an insufficient amount of sleep.

But it turns out that Casper -- the company that admittedly started out as one that aimed to sell mattresses to millennials -- wants to cure this epidemic. To democratize sleep. To make it okay -- as it is in countries like Spain, Morgan uses as an example -- to take a nap during the day.

Its answer to the nationwide sleep shortage is The Dreamery: a brick-and-mortar nap boutique, of sorts, located in New York's SoHo neighborhood.

I decided to give it a try.

Naps for Hire

The Price Tag

I was able to tour The Dreamery this week as part of Code Commerce -- a conference that centers around ecommerce and retail -- where I had a quick look at Casper's nap shop, and learned more about its mission and operations.

At The Dreamery, a 45-minute nap costs $25. It includes the option of changing into appropriately-themed navy blue pajamas with astrological patterns, grooming products to help your skin recover while you sleep, and access to the location's lounge, where visitors can enjoy a range of snacks, beverages, and 30 minutes of free WiFi.

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The Dreamery lounge. Source: Casper

Your initial reaction might be, "There are people who pay for naps?" Don't worry -- you're not alone, and I had a similar impression at first. Was $25 an inflated price tag for less than an hour of snoozing? Or was it a bargain?

To find out, I decided to go back to The Dreamery the next day and fully immerse myself in the nap boutique experience.

The Experience

That particular day, quieting my mind for even 45 minutes in an environment built specifically for sleep seemed hopeless. Just before arriving, I had gulped down a large coffee. I was away from home and preoccupied with what turned out to be an untrustworthy dog-sitter. And I didn't have a ton of time to spare -- after my $25 nap, I had meetings to get to.

But as I reentered the electric-star-studded entrance -- late for my snooze appointment, of course -- and received a calm, reassuring "It's okay!" from the front desk attendant, my perspective began to slightly shift. "At least it's pretty in here," I thought.

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I opted for the pajamas -- after all, I wanted the full experience -- and after changing into them in one of The Dreamery's "refresh rooms," I was guided into the quiet area: a cool, dark room studded with more electronic stars and tent-like sleep pods sitting among ambient, chillout music.

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The Dreamery lounge. Source: Casper

Each nap pod is equipped with a Twin-XL-sized Casper mattress, with fresh sheets that are changed before every nap (part of what makes the experience "indulgent," Morgan says).

There's a light switch that nappers can use to darken the room before dozing off, and an outlet that can be used to charge their phones -- of particular use if tuning in to one of the guided "sleepcasts" that Casper, in partnership with meditation app Headspace, developed specifically for naps.

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A nap pod at The Dreamery

Upon crawling into my pod, my decision to leave my phone in the locker provided became salient. I had forgotten that there was an outlet available, and being that my my phone is routinely the last thing I look at before bed (a bad habit that I know better than to engage in), being without it felt a bit unnatural.

 
 
 
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BRB. Doing a nap thing.

A post shared by Amanda Z-W (@thisisazw) on Sep 19, 2018 at 11:05am PDT

I shut off the light and began stifling uncontrollable giggles. "This is so weird," I thought. "What am I doing? Why am I in a pod, in a room with a handful of strangers, also napping in pods?"

I closed my eyes. If all else fails, I figured, I can use the time to brainstorm a work project without the distraction of phone notifications.

It was a nice thought, in theory.

Before I knew it, I was napping hard -- woken up only once by the subway passing beneath the street where The Dreamery is located -- and even recall having two dreams. (The name, it turns out, isn't just for kicks.)

When the 45-minute allotted nap ends, visitors are gently awoken by a soft light inside of the pod that gradually brightens. "I don't want to get up," I whined to myself, feeling bad about how skeptical I had been of this place.

What Marketers Can Take Away From Casper's Mission

I was sold. Would I pay $25 for another midday, work week nap? Absolutely -- and I would recommend that others do, too.

It's hard to take a break during the day -- important and productive, but difficult to actually execute, given the human propensity to feel bad about stepping away from our responsibilities, even for a short period.

And as it turns out, that's Casper's end game -- to curb that propensity to feel bad about taking breaks, especially when it manifests through a de-prioritization of sleep.

"As hard as that is to believe, the most interesting problem we’re trying to solve is not to sell more mattresses," she explains. "The problem we’re trying to solve is, 'How do we get more people engage with sleep?’ That’s what the Dreamery is about.”

“What might the world look like if people could take a nap during the day?”

- Eleanor Morgan, Chief Experience Officer, Casper

So if there's any marketing lesson to be gleaned from The Dreamery experience -- it's to lean into the taboo. In the U.S., that's one word to describe the idea of taking a nap in the middle of the work day. Sure, HubSpot has a nap room, but I would venture to say that it's among a limited number of employers to provide such a benefit.

Casper is working to make that phenomenon -- the North American siesta -- less unthinkable, and more "aspirational," as Morgan puts it. That's why the company is looking to partner with a number of brick-and-mortar location categories, like workplaces and airports, to vertically integrate nap pods as on-site experiences.

I've always wondered why that's not a "thing": nap pods in airports, for example, especially after experiencing more flight delays than one person should.

The possibilities don't end there, either. While stuck in traffic on my way to the airport this morning, for instance, I began to wonder if Casper might partner with Uber or Lyft to create an in-ride nap experience.

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Experiential marketing can be an extremely valuable device -- especially when it's mission-focused. It invites an audience to interact with a business, in an in-real-life setting.

By using participatory, hands-on, and tangible (but branded) experiences, businesses can show audiences not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.

Which is another lesson to marketers: In the process of figuring out what makes your business, brand, or product unique -- and perhaps even taboo -- lean into it, and create a remarkable experience around it.

What's the meaningful movement that aligns with your product or service -- one that people can and want to rally behind? Once that question is answered, figure out who it makes sense to partner with to develop and promote it.

“How do we shift that mindset around sleep and create a cultural movement?” asks Morgan. "Making that experience as delightful as possible is a priority.”