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This is some dummy copy. You’re not really supposed to read this dummy copy, it is just a place holder for people who need some type to visualize what the actual copy might look like if it were real content.

If you want to read, I might suggest a good book, perhaps Hemingway or Melville. That’s why they call it, the dummy copy. This, of course, is not the real copy for this entry. Rest assured, the words will expand the concept. With clarity. Conviction. And a little wit.

In today’s competitive market environment, the body copy of your entry must lead the reader through a series of disarmingly simple thoughts.

All your supporting arguments must be communicated with simplicity and charm. And in such a way that the reader will read on. (After all, that’s a reader’s job: to read, isn’t it?) And by the time your readers have reached this point in the finished copy, you will have convinced them that you not only respect their intelligence, but you also understand their needs as consumers.

As a result of which, your entry will repay your efforts. Take your sales; simply put, they will rise. Likewise your credibility. There’s every chance your competitors will wish they’d placed this entry, not you. While your customers will have probably forgotten that your competitors even exist. Which brings us, by a somewhat circuitous route, to another small point, but one which we feel should be raised.

Long copy or short – You decide

As a marketer, you probably don’t even believe in body copy. Let alone long body copy. (Unless you have a long body yourself.) Well, truth is, who‘s to blame you? Fact is, too much long body copy is dotted with such indulgent little phrases like truth is, fact is, and who’s to blame you. Trust us: we guarantee, with a hand over our heart, that no such indulgent rubbish will appear in your entry. That’s why God gave us big blue pencils. So we can expunge every example of witted waffle.

For you, the skies will be blue, the birds will sing, and your copy will be crafted by a dedicated little man whose wife will be sitting at home, knitting, wondering why your entry demands more of her husband‘s time than it should.

But you will know why, won‘t you? You will have given her husband a chance to immortalize himself in print, writing some of the most persuasive prose on behalf of a truly enlightened purveyor of widgets. And so, while your dedicated reader, enslaved to each mellifluous paragraph, clutches his newspaper with increasing interest and intention to purchase, you can count all your increased profits and take pots of money to your bank. Sadly, this is not the real copy for this entry. But it could well be. All you have to do is look at the account executive sitting across your desk (the fellow with the lugubrious face and the calf-like eyes), and say ”Yes! Yes! Yes!“ And anything you want, body copy, dinners, women, will be yours. Couldn’t be fairer than that, could we?

2013-style Social Media Marketing is So Last Year: What to Expect in 2014

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It’s safe to say we’re all finally on board the social media marketing train. Everybody, from billion-dollar-budget-wielding CEOs to small business owners, now recognizes the value of social media marketing. (True, some of them still don’t understand how and why it works, but at least they recognize the results social media marketing brings to their businesses. Phew! Glad that’s finally over with.)

But now, as companies are finally figuring out how to take advantage of social media darlings like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to advertise their wares and get public reactions to both old and new products and services, the times they are a-changin’ again.

Take note, because in 2014, you’ll want to get on board with these social media marketing trends. Then again, why wait? Maybe it’s that Halloween is right around the corner, marking the official retailing kickoff to Christmas, but we’re in the mood to give you a head start.

Google+++

Are you still not using Google+? Sure, Facebook may still be the pack leader in social media marketing, but Google+ is now the second-highest social media outlet in terms of visitors (343 million monthly). This social networking wonder continues to prove that it is on its way to becoming a key aspect of Google’s SEO and social signals. This is especially true when you consider the only-months-old Google Authorship, which allows users to connect a piece of content with the Google+ profile of its author, which will be a cornerstone of the service by the end of 2014. Google+ will likely the “go to” social media outlet for businesses in 2014 because of its one-stop-shop ease. And let’s be honest: Google sets the rules on SEO, so it pays to play by them.

Image-ine All the PR

Social networks like Flickr, Mobli and Instagram are gaining far more exposure this past year than social media outlets that are text-based. In terms of marketing, pictures and videos say a lot more than words ever could. They also pose a shareability factor that words cannot live up to. In 2014, companies will be turning to video and picture sharing networks more. But don’t make the mistake that pictures are not content and therefore do not need to be managed accordingly: If a picture says a thousand words, you’ll want to make absolutely certain that all of them align with the messaging goals of your brand (hint: an outside reviewer helps).

Micro is the New Macro

Micro videos are becoming more popular than ever, thanks to easy-to-use apps like Twitter’s Vine and now Instagram’s video sharing feature. Real-time video sharing is basically providing you with quick and easy, organic commercial ads that can be made from your smartphone. No big budget required.

I See You Already: Let Go of Foursquare…

Foursquare is quickly becoming obsolete as other social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) continue to offer location-based features. The social media network already has reported a huge loss in 2013, and that is likely to get worse in 2014.

…But Don’t LinkOut

LinkedIn continues to be the most useful social networking site for professionals, and the site only continues to get better. The site’s Influencers program is helping to ensure that 2014 will continue to make LinkedIn the go-to website for B2B communication.

How about you, dear readers: Got a new favorite social scene? Scoop us in the comments section below!

Compelling Collaboration Creates Confidence, or, Why You Should Have a Blogging Partner

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This is a Guest Blog by William Cain.

Blogging has come a long way since the days of the teen’s personal Livejournal account. Blogs as journalism, blogs as advertising, and even blogs as storytelling have become accepted parts of our society. However, there is still a perception that a ‘blog’ is a creator’s own property, driven by a singular voice. There is certainly something to be said for this approach, but there is a more collaborative effort that should be considered as a way to develop a lively, interesting, and prolific blog presence.

Consider the website Gaming as Women, which examines issues of gaming culture and the roles women have in that society. They tackle larger issues such as the nature of anti-harassment policies at large conventions, smaller ones such as the best way to handle difficult subject matter in a gaming environment, and more esoteric fare such as releasing a game built around the concept of sweeping social change.

This is a lot of material to cover, but to be fair the topic they have chosen for themselves is indeed one with broad implications. As a result, the blog has become a platform for multiple authors. Each has a different area they specialize in, but all comment on every issue in some measure. The effect is very similar to the Op-Ed section of a large newspaper, with essays steadily being presented on a number of issues, but with no one author being asked to ‘carry’ the site.

Another example is Skeptic Blog where a collection of some of the bigger names in the new Skeptic community (including Brian Dunning, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella) cover issues ranging from debunking paranormal tv shows to the dangers of modern medical quack therapies.

Skeptic Blog is a great example of a thriving collaboration, particularly because it has such a lively comments section. Since many of the articles are about controversial topics, the comments are a source of extensive debate and criticism. Of course, each comment is a visit to the site, and high readership drives successful blogs.

So how should you approach building a collaborative blog?

First, start with a theme. Collaborations are more difficult to pull off than singular efforts because each party brings a different perspective and desires to the table. If there is a core theme that each of the writers is passionate about (BEFORE they start the blog), then getting them to work together on-message is much more effective. Develop a theme each of the writers you bring on is comfortable with and eager to write about, and you have a solid start.

Next, with the understanding that the content is to be written within the core theme, let each author develop their area of special comment. This isn’t to say that only this author writes on such things, but rather that they should be allowed to focus their content on a particular sub-theme of the site’s main message. People tend to be better at writing content they are eager to focus on, so allowing this kind of specialization will help their writing grow. In addition, each writer’s focus on a particular field of content will allow them to attract a particular subset of readers who enjoy their work.

Third, engage with your fellow authors. If a collaborator writes an article that resonates with you, perhaps go beyond making a comment and writing a response expanding on  their idea or analyzing a specific part of it. This kind of dialog will increase your content and give your readers a reason to check out multiple authors on the site.

Finally, each author on the site should have their own individual blog as well. This allows for a synchronicity among the readership. Readers of their individual blog can be referred to the collaboration, and vice-versa. The personal blogs don’t even have to be about the same specific subject matter as the collaboration – this allows someone interested in the specifics of Michael Shermer’s science education on Skeptic Blog to discover his writings on other materials, and creates a ripple effect of discovery.

As always, there is no magic formula that will make a blog succeed over others. If you get a good team with great chemistry together though, you might just find that lightning strikes and you have a real winner on your hands.

________________________________________________________________________________

William Cain is a freelance writer living in Apple Valley, California. He specializes in branding and blogging content, and is available for traditional and ghostwriting assignments. Check out his personal blog or contact him at wcain [dot] applevalley [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Wakeskating the Eighth Wonder of the World

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This is some dummy copy. You’re not really supposed to read this dummy copy, it is just a place holder for people who need some type to visualize what the actual copy might look like if it were real content.

If you want to read, I might suggest a good book, perhaps Hemingway or Melville. That’s why they call it, the dummy copy. This, of course, is not the real copy for this entry. Rest assured, the words will expand the concept. With clarity. Conviction. And a little wit.

In today’s competitive market environment, the body copy of your entry must lead the reader through a series of disarmingly simple thoughts.

All your supporting arguments must be communicated with simplicity and charm. And in such a way that the reader will read on. (After all, that’s a reader’s job: to read, isn’t it?) And by the time your readers have reached this point in the finished copy, you will have convinced them that you not only respect their intelligence, but you also understand their needs as consumers.

5 Things for October 4: Kleenex's Signs, Twitter's IPO & Fandango's Screams

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If you only read five awe-inspiring, toe-tapping, marker-moving stories this week, make it our weekly list of five things you might have missed!

1.) Sweet Screams: Fandango wants fans to scream their heads off on social media. According to ClickZ, “From October 1 to 18, Scream-Off fans can submit videos of their best ‘blood-curdling, skin-crawling screams’ on Instagram or Twitter, with the hashtag #FandangoScreamContest and @Fandango.” Fandango will pick a Scream of the Day and feature it on the site before moving it to the next round of competition. The best screamer gets a stay at the legendary Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where The Shining was filmed.

2.) IPOh!: Late Thursday afternoon, Twitter filed its paperwork with U.S. securities regulators in hopes of being a social media IPO that really delivers. Twitter is hoping that the ever-exploding mobile market will give it a leg up on Facebook. Social media marketers can expect Twitter’s decision to go public to mean a larger emphasis on advertising and mobile-friendly campaigns. But Twitter (or TWTR, as it will be known on the stock ticker) has a long way to go until it can bring in the ad bucks like Google or Facebook, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

3.) Drawn Together: Beer maker Steinlager wants its consumers to “be the artist, not the canvas” in a new spot which shows a mischievous young man who draws on his friends who have had too much to drink. The smart and funny commercial is accompanied by a “be the artist” app which gives users a chance to make and share their own ink masterpieces. 

4.) Adstagram: We knew it would come to this… Instagram announced this week that it would finally start delivering on the promise of introducing advertisements into U.S. feeds. Only a select group of brands that are already Instagram users will get to show ads first. The ads will slowly start appearing over the next few months. In contrast, complaints about the ads have already appeared on pretty much every other social network. 

5.) Bless You: Wrapping up our list is a little slice of online video creation that perfectly mixes “eww” with “aww.” The fine folks at Kleenex remind us not to get caught without a tissue by using people with signs telling their true sneeze confessions. It’s a simple, short and very memorable spot for a brand on the verge of a hipper, lighter digital makeover.

How to Instagram Like the Big Brands

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Social media experts seemed a bit confused by Instagram when it first launched back in 2010. Would people actually care about photo sharing? Moreover, could this kind of platform really be social? And could brands find ways to make Instagram work for them? Three years later, the answer to those questions is a resounding “Yes!” Instagram has fast become the darling of social media marketing, and a new study shows just how Fortune 500 use Instagram. Turns out, the Instagram habits of the big boys are things every company can try.

According to the study conducted by TrackMaven, the best time to post on Instagram is, well, anytime. Marketing types often think social media ends with the workday, but TrackMaven found that user activity stayed virtually the same on Instagram on weekends as it was on the weekdays. As far as filters go, Fortune 500s used #nofilter the most on their Instagram photos, but the “Mayfair” filter performed the best. Also, Fortune 500 companies seem to be loving Instagram’s version of Vine  new video feature. Nike, Starbucks, Foot Locker, Apple and Ralph Lauren are the top five most active Fortune 500 brands on Instagram. Yet it should be noted that while 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have Instagram accounts, only 22 percent have active accounts.

For small businesses who want to get better at Instagram marketing, these are fascinating things to hear and chock full of lessons. For starters, post on Instagram all day, every day. Since photo sharing often happens from events (which happen whenever), normal business hours should be happily ignored. In fact, Instagram photos posted on the weekends have a better chance of getting “likes” with more folks off work and on their phones. Also, go crazy with the hashtags. As Mashable’s Jessica Lee puts it, “It’s often considered a social media faux pas to use more than two hashtags in a tweet; however, on Instagram, that rule can be thrown out the window. The data prove otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to on average 77 interactions per Instagram post.” Lee also reminds us not to clog the bottom of the post with hashtags; rather, we’d do well to pepper them seamlessly throughout the post instead.

Finally, in order to have big-time rocking Instagram success, you actually have to use the darn thing! Pictures from trade shows, mouth-watering snapshots of the day’s specials and exclusive backstage photos make for great Instagram posts. Remember, the top five only became the top five because they were inspired by Instagram’s endless ways to connect by sharing amazing, funny and interesting original images. 

Hop on the Hashtag Bandwagon

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If you’re brand new to Twitter marketing, you’ve picked a perfect time to join the social network. Much of what Twitter users discuss is what’s currently happening in the world and there is a lot to talk about right now. From ObamaCare and the government shutdown to new episodes of buzzed-about television shows and from football to baseball, Twitter is on fire with hashtags relating to the things we are all talking about. Used correctly, hashtags can help brands join the conversation while potentially introducing themselves to a new legion of followers.

At the writing of this post, the following hashtags were trending on Twitter: #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, #Netflix, #Halloween, #Buctober and #America. If you haven’t used hashtags, that list might make zero sense to you. And that’s okay. Hashtags are simply ways to tag things others on Twitter are talking about — a way of joining and inviting others to join similar conversations. #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, for example, invites Twitter users to fill in the sentence with their own one-liners, funny memes or opinions. (This one, which referenced the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh, was the top of the pack, by the way.) But you don’t have to be born in the 2000s to take part in the conversation. Hashtag #Buctober is a shout out to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. Local brands like Pittsburgh eatery Primanti Brothers used #Buctober to encourage fans to come in after the big game. Trending hashtag #Halloween gave brands like ABC Family, American Apparel and Random House a chance to start trick-or-tweeting early with followers.

The key with hashtags is to strike when the iron is hot. Sometimes hashtags go on for days, but most peak in popularity in a matter of hours. Also, only use hashtags that relate to your brand and social media marketing story. If you sell cards, then #Halloween would be an easy one for you. If you sell tires, however, the hashtag of #Netflix might be a harder sell. But maybe you can make it work! For huge companies and mom-and-pop shops alike, hashtags and how we use them rely 100 percent on a brand’s creativity. Hence, the sky is the limit.

Readers, what recent hashtags have made you laugh, roll your eyes or get involved? Also, which companies rock a great hashtag? Sound off in the comments section below!