Transforming Networking into Sales is Easier Than You May Think

When networking is done well it can be the most powerful form of marketing— for you and your business. Yes, it can feel overwhelming at times— no one likes walking into a room full of strangers and having to start a conversation— but it a surefire way to elevate your brand or business. 

Earlier this year I ran a session on how to turn networking into sales during InEvent’s 20 in 30 Webinar Series: Future of Content & Digital Trends. Within the session we explored how to learn and apply new skills and strategies when networking in events as a means of creating new business opportunities. 

This got me thinking, how can we continue to build on the idea of turning networking into sales for the remainder of 2022 and as we start to think about 2023? Here are a few key learnings:

Create a strong online presence

Remember that the first thing someone will do before hiring or working with you is to check you out online. Potential customers need to know you, like you and trust you ahead of buying from you or doing any business with you. Therefore, the need to network and gain access to a referral network is crucial and having an online presence is a must. Additionally, many businesses refer customers and have strong relationships within their industry so the ability to network, connect and grow your relationships becomes of the utmost importance when you’re working on building your sales pipeline.  

Carefully craft your content marketing strategy

Another way to enhance your online presence and bring added value to your network is through content marketing. In a crowded digital environment, providing consistent high-quality, and engaging content impacts audience decision-making more than any other technique. According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers and on average, accounts for 26% of B2B marketing budgets. First impressions matter and having a digital footprint does as well.   

Develop visual and snackable short content

When developing your content marketing strategy, keep in mind that Microsoft research found that the average human attention span is now only 8 seconds (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). People have little patience to read through long form written content and may even be turned off it it’s too long or comprehensive. How do you make a big impact in the first eight seconds? By developing short and snackable content, which is digestible and informative.

In addition, think about site speed. Research by Nielsen found people do not read content on web pages word for word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. Some of these tips can go a long way in grabbing and keeping attention:

·     Highlight important keywords

·     Use bullets to make important points stand out

·     Use subheadings to break out key sections

·     Focus on one idea per paragraph

Again, the “snackable” content is what catches our eyes and can help to generate leads. The more an audience views your content, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future! 

Develop User Generated Content (UGC) to stand out

When a brand generates User Generated Content (UGC), it helps consumers feel like they’ve been seen. Who doesn’t love being highlighted by a brand they love? Content creation involves gathering, reviewing, and sharing the most relevant and impactful content with your audience. More than 86% of companies today use user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy. And users who create and share content on social media channels get 28% higher engagement compared to standard company posts. Think about how to incorporate UGC into your content marketing strategy to stand out and cut through the noise to captivate your customers’ attention.

One of my favorite brands, Warby Parker, has become well known for shipping customers frames to try on at home before purchase, a service the company continues to promote via an ongoing UGC campaign. The brand has launched series of high successful social ads using different formats of UGC content including video testimonials, camera photos from customers trying on at home, and motion GIFs. This has allowed Warby Parker to highlight both its stylish frames and its convenient home try-on option in a genuine way. 

Lean into video

Content has a reputation for being “king,” but I believe that video is now taking over the crown. According to a Cisco study, by the end of 2022 82% of all online content will be video content. Video content is one of the most engaging forms of content and in my opinion will soon dominate social media and emerge the clear winner over all other types of content. Whether it is short-form videos like those popular on TikTok or Instagram Stories or long-form content viewed on YouTube, videos are the future of social media content.

Video can also help increase conversions and sales. In fact, according to Insivia, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Video can also lead directly to sales. A wyzowl study show that 74% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product or service subsequently bought it. So, if you’re looking for a new way to increase sales, think about a fun and dynamic way to showcase your brand and product through video!

Embrace the metaverse

Many experts look at the metaverse as a 3D model of the Internet. Basically, a place parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. I would argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t exist yet, but marketing professionals are working through how to adapt this online space and build it into 2023 plans.

During the pandemic it looked as though livestreaming and hybrid streaming would become the norm, but the metaverse offers several upgrades to that model. I think the metaverse will be the next frontier for advertising and e-commerce and brands are quickly figuring out how to incorporate it. The question is not if, but when people will adopt it. In my opinion, companies should invest in creating virtual experiences for their customers and audiences within the metaverse today, so that they can be first to market when the technology is more widely adopted. The metaverse is “always on” and will continue to evolve but it allows us to develop virtual identities, presence, re-invent peer-to-peer interactions and more.

Today, the cost to develop advertising and e-commerce technology for the metaverse is a barrier to entry for most businesses. As time goes on there will be platforms that are much easier to utilize by average merchants. For now, it’s a good idea to map out how you might link physical objects in the real world to virtual objects and experiences in the metaverse and put this on the road map for building your sales and marketing funnel.

Remember, your digital footprint matters!

There are plenty of tools and tricks to leverage social media, marketing, video and more to help build your network to drive sales. The bottom line is that your digital footprint matters. The first impressions you make through your online presence- whether it be through your written or video content, UGC, or the metaverse— can make a significant difference in your ability to turn networking into sales. As you think about your 2023 planning, what else would you add? Leave a comment below.

The Importance of PR When Scaling Your Business

The Below is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

There’s one particular Bill Gates quote that has continued to resonate with media professionals, in which the Microsoft founder said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” It’s high praise of the efficacy of the art of PR from one of the most important business minds of the 21st century. It’s also a telling indication of just how effective a campaign can be in drastically altering the course of a business’ trajectory. 

Public relations, in simple terms, is the management of a person, business, or brand’s public image. For smaller companies, it’s mostly about trying to secure press coverage, but it can also be about creating the right kind of buzz, and knowing how to protect against and navigate crises. 

When people pursue PR for the first time, they often assume it’s interchangeable with marketing or essentially serves the same purpose. But crucially, PR is not something that directly translates into sales, and even the most viral of campaigns don’t guarantee a direct correlation to extra dollars. Instead, the priority of PR is establishing brand credibility by securing coverage in the media, which translates into something more valuable: consumer trust.

Below are four key reasons why PR is important when scaling your business.

PR Establishes Credibility, Solidifies Your Brand 

One of the hardest things any growing business faces when starting out is establishing credibility in the public eye. How do you prove to a complete stranger that you are worth trusting, and — eventually — putting their hard-earned money into? It’s a hard sell, but one that becomes far easier once you have press and media featuring you, or referring to your employees as expert sources. If you can prove that your opinion is trusted in thought leadership publications like Entrepreneur or Forbes, then that’s an indication know your industry. As Powderkeg writes, it’s your “stamp of approval”.

This goes hand in hand with establishing an authentic, strong brand image. Having a clear, consistent brand story across the board also helps your employees to be confident in your brand image, who will grow more comfortable in sharing their expertise as thought leaders. Additionally, if you can identify a story that makes you different from the competition, PR will help you pique media interest, which in turn gives prospective customers a reason to connect with your company on an emotional level.

PR Boosts SEO, Drives Web Traffic

Have you ever tried Googling yourself or your company? If so, did you like what you saw? Are there similar businesses ranking higher, or is there even anything to see at all? 

When you’re dealing with prospective customers or clients, you can be sure that they’ve probably Googled you, maybe even just to look at reviews. Although, nothing says “trustworthy” more than a glowing page one of search engine results, full of highly-ranked publications. It’s also an opportunity to increase the number of backlinks your site has in other publications, which helps earn a higher domain authority. That way, when a prospective customer is conducting a Google search for the service or product you product, you’re more likely to rank higher in the results they see.

Not only this, but PR professionals are experts at spotting potential opportunities for brands or businesses in markets they might not have considered. It could be that there’s a particular story angle that will resonate in a different country or industry. Algorithms and elusive variables create alternative search results in different locations, but aiming for breadth as well as depth in specialist PR campaigns will help to improve your online presence across the board.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth (WoM) is the holy grail of marketing for any business, and it’s always going to carry more weight than traditional advertising. WoM inevitably becomes the most trusted source of information, because it usually comes from family or friends. A 2018 report found that 83% of Americans say WoM marketing is more likely to make them purchase something. However, it’s something that can be tricky to manufacture, but it can be encouraged by creative PR campaigns and favorable coverage. This is something that can spread like wildfire on social media, and you’ll often hear media teams say that all it takes is one viral event.

The most important thing to note here is that a good story is the best way to get people talking, as humans are naturally drawn to narratives more than anything else. As they say, a story changes minds and wins hearts. We react to stories because they make us feel and communicate in a naturally intuitive way. They serve as a “collective sensemaking process,” according to Liz Neeley, former executive director of Story Collider. PR helps you dig out and celebrate the stories you might not have seen yourself. You might also find that it is actually more costly being boring than it is to invest in developing your brand story.

Storytelling is More Economical Than Digital Marketing

Marketing, of course, has its place in every business. And while there is certainly a way to find the intersection of marketing and storytelling through PR, the strategies for each one are different. 

The greatest value you get from media relations is that the stories you help publish will be available online to reference forever, whereas marketing is usually a temporary campaign that will soon get buried on social media or removed from websites. A good marketing strategy will use a story, but PR is about getting other people outside of your own team to scream and shout about it. This creates organic media coverage, which can then be picked up by other outlets and republished to gain you greater coverage of your story. Marketing might earn you sales as intended in the short term, but storytelling through PR helps set the foundations for long-term success.

Furthermore, investors care about a brand story more than your snazzy videography skills or attractive website landing page. “Stories are engaging, compelling, and persuasive; it is far more interesting to hear yarns of how a fund manager met with the CEO and toured the new factory, rather than discuss probabilities and uncertainty, which are almost always more relevant considerations in an investment decision,” one author writes at Behavioral Investment. Where you could spend months trying to pull together impressive figures for your pitch deck, words and stories are always going to stick more than numbers.

In a market where an estimated 90% of startups fail, PR helps you find your edge, and then shouts to the world about it. Nevertheless, it’s important not to wait until you’re down to your last dollar to start working on your PR.

The Above is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

Melanie Parncutt is a publicist at Otter PR in St. Petersburg, Florida. In Baltimore, MD, Parncutt studied writing, technology, communication, and design with a focus on leadership studies. She has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, and advertising including media planning, content writing, and marketing, ghostwriting, corporate partnerships, and broadcast productions.

She has worked with clients in over 10 different industries. She enjoys clients who are actively making a difference in their community and driving innovative change. Parncutt has developed strong media relations experience working with journalists from around the country. Some of her clients are contributors for the Forbes Councils and Entrepreneur Leadership Network and others have been featured in Fortune, USA Today, MarketWatch, LA Weekly, Tech Times, NY Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS TV Miami, and more.

Overcoming The Paradox of Choice is Possible—And Here’s How

If we’ve learned anything the past two years is that the only constant is change. And change is hard. As the owner of Marissa Pick Consulting, I’ve certainly felt the bumps in the road throughout the pandemic, but I’ve learned how to adapt to change and remain agile, ready to shift with the changes that are sure to come.

With rapid change comes choices, which can make it challenging to make decisions, especially when business and personal lives collide. Whether it’s choosing a career to pursue or a snack to eat, our lives are full of decisions. But how does our brain decide between an apple or Fruit by the Foot when we go to the snack cabinet for a mid-day treat? Even with routine choices, decision-making is a complex task that involves assessing the information we have (there are so many kinds of snacks on my shelf), determining our choices (which snack do I like?), examining our experience with these choices (I remember liking Fruit by the Foot as a kid), and ultimately picking what we think is the best option.

We can’t escape the need to choose, nor can we control the consequences of our decisions or the choices of others. We often put too much pressure on our choices. And somehow, we don’t put on enough pressure. This causes us to mess up at both ends. But by taking control of the process, here are some ways I was able to embrace the “paradox” of choice so that my business could continue to grow.

Embrace change. A self-described “Type A” personality, embracing change in my own life isn’t easy. But the pandemic forced me to tackle my issues with change headfirst. A planner by nature, I really struggled with the uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life. It was like a constant question mark was looming above me and it was extremely uncomfortable. As someone who thrives on predictability, accepting and welcoming change was a scary experience. But by focusing on my communication skills and leaning into a more flexible mindset, I learned that change doesn’t have to be scary. I realized that “not knowing” can sometimes be liberating and inspire you to see your world and the responsibilities that come with it in a different light. Since I stopped running away from change, routines in my business and household spheres have become a bit steadier. And if things become rocky again, the difference is that I’m more equipped to handle that.


Try to plan ahead. There are many times in life that we know change is on the horizon, forcing us to choose a path. Whether it’s following market dynamics, trends or just gut instinct, there are many ways to get ahead of the “selection process.” With my marketing clients, I’m a big proponent of prep work. I try to do as much research as possible to outline the “nice-to-have and must-have” elements of any marketing plan. For example, there are a plethora of technologies available to add efficiencies to our work, but which ones will best justify marketing budgets and boost performance?By weighing options upfront, you’ll be in a better position to provide sound counsel and judgement.

Before you start looking for ways to embrace change, you need to identify what the change is and how it will impact you. Many people think that any change which throws our plans off-course is undesirable. However, it is important to not feel pessimistic or lose hope. Review where you stand after things settle down. Identify the areas which need attention and allocate resources to them accordingly.

Reframe your thinking. Change will happen regardless of our decisions, so it’s important to identify how change makes you feel. Are you feeling sad or anxious? How can you break negative patterns or step back and reflect on your feelings? Taking timely action after adversity or change will enable you to embrace it. For example, if you break your arm, you may be unable to type, write or do other important work for yourself. However, you can look to dictation services, voice to text software, or even hire someone to support and take notes for you. By reframing your thinking and addressing a situation in a different way, you can feel more in control of the aftermath of change.


Count your blessings and smile. Life is overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the endless circus of life. The highlight of my day is when my kids run into my arms after school and tell me everything about their days. Kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys are so inquisitive, curious, and hopeful about the future. Every day, they inspire my husband and me to smile and have fun, and they remind us that family comes first, no matter what. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine. Change makes the world go around, and we are fortunate to live in a country where we hold the power to make choices (even if there are more than we would like, at times).

In the words of Bob Dylan, “Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one/If you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’.” When you’re able to re-think your relationship with change, you may be surprised to discover how many more possibilities you can unlock for yourself and your business.

Stop and Read This Before You Start Your Small Business

Guest Post from Amy Collett, BizWell

Image via Pexels

As a budding business owner in New York City, you can set yourself up for success if you follow a few rules and avoid making the same mistakes many startups make. Instead of cutting corners, prepare thoroughly for this new venture. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid. 

Not Having a Business and Marketing Plan

Your small business will have a better chance of thriving if you develop a business plan that provides a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, how you will achieve it, and when it will happen. By doing so, investors and partners will be more likely to be interested in your idea, whether it’s based around products or services.

With approximately 220,000 businesses located in NYC, it’s important to make yours stand out. Create a go-to-marketing strategy template that can help keep everything on track for a product release. Using a pre-made go-to-market strategy template can help you streamline the entire process instead of creating your own from scratch. Expecting your product or service to speak for itself as a new business owner is a pipe dream. 

Not Taking Advantage of Technology

Small businesses have a lot to gain from technology since it can make things run smoothly and boost profits. The use of inventory management software, project management platforms, cybersecurity protection, and cost savings can benefit your business. Other benefits of technology for your business include: 

  • Communication with customers:  Your customers can get information about your business online 24/7 through FAQs on your website. In turn, this facilitates smooth communication between your business and the public.
  • The efficiency of operations: Technology can help you better understand cash flow needs and save you time and space. Meetings can be held online with tools like Zoom and Skype rather than renting a physical space.
  • Security: Data protection and client security are vital in any industry. Make sure you invest in solutions that increase security and improve operations.

Choosing the Wrong Type of Business Entity

The wrong business entity can have a significant impact on your business as you could end up with additional taxes or be liable for issues with your business. Consider the following:

  • Business creation and ongoing costs: Partnerships are typically the simplest to set up, but LLCs come a close second. Corporations require more paperwork and filings.   
  • Indemnification: Consider your assets when choosing a business structure. LLPs and LLCs are better options for securing your private assets than sole proprietorships because they separate your business from you. 
  • Taxes: Corporations are often the most tax-efficient, depending on how you structure them, but LLCs are close behind. 

Underpricing

One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make when launching a new product is underpricing. If you underprice, you won’t make money no matter how hard you work. Research your target market to determine a suitable price.

Setting Up a Business

Running a business requires a lot of groundwork and needs careful thought, from creating a business plan to choosing the right structure.  

If you have any questions consider contacting Marissa Pick for digital marketing help from the social media evangelist herself. If you need more specific help consider reviewing Design Rush’s Top Social Media Marketing Agencies.

Amy Collett is creator of Biz Well, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand.

The Future of Content Marketing Appears Bright Moving Into 2022

The pandemic put content center stage, reminding many marketers that they must develop content that includes purpose, context, creativity, and integrity. To do so, content must add value and enhance the conversation with brands’ target audiences to facilitate engagement. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to be inspired and entertained, making it even more important for content marketers to find creative ways to connect with their audiences. 

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their 12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report last month which portrays an encouraging and optimistic future ahead for content marketing. The research within the report confirmed what many of us already knew: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around. In the most difficult of times, they get the job done– and many come through more creative and stronger than before.

I wanted to break down some of the key themes highlighted in this report.

Video and Events Present Prime Opportunities for Engagement

Ninety percent of content marketers say that short articles and posts (such as blogs) have been within the mix this past year. That is followed by videos (66%), virtual events/webinars/online courses (64%) and case studies (61%). But which tactics produce the best results? Virtual events, webinars, and online courses were named by 58% of respondents as a top performer (including 66% of those categorized as “most successful”) and research reports and short articles/posts were tied for second at 48%.

B2B marketers remain at a critical inflection point as we prepare for the future of events. The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of events, profoundly changing the live events industry as we knew it. I maintain that most events and conferences will remain virtual until the end of 2022, but agree that the opportunity for virtual events, webinars and online courses showcases the importance of virtual and hybrid events as a MUST next year.

Given the results of the survey it’s no surprise that the top two planned areas of investment for next year are video and events. It’s clear that content marketers are looking for ways to more immersive engagement with their audience within a fundamentally altered environment. The good news for content marketers is that there are several opportunities to keep virtual events as an integral part of fostering connection and engagement. 

Earlier this year I wrote an article for InEvent about the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Virtual Event which discussed the importance of developing great content. When you begin planning your virtual event, it’s important to remember that content is often viewed hand in hand within the overall program. That is why it’s so important to take the time to put together a cohesive look and feel and ensure you’ve outlined branding for your online event. Make sure that the content you develop promotes your speakers, sponsors, and every aspect of your program. Eye-catching and captivating promotional materials are key.

LinkedIn Remains King for Organic and Paid Social Media  

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media platform to distribute both organic and paid B2B content. It’s a viable content marketing platforms and when content is relevant for the proper audience and complimentary to the features of LinkedIn it can really pay off in the end. 

B2B content marketers in this survey rated it as the most effective for both organic and paid social media. When it comes to producing results with paid social media, LinkedIn was ahead of the next-highest rated platform by 25 percentage points. For organic results, the chasm is even wider.

Overall, more than three-quarters of practitioners said their paid distribution spending has either increased or remained steady. Social media advertising and promoted posts were the most common paid distribution tactic (77%), beating out search engine marketing and pay-per-click (65%).

Content Marketing Budgets Are Rising

Although the pandemic brought a lot of businesses uncertainty, many haven’t pulled back their content marketing investments, which was at one point considered “discretionary” spending. Forty-three percent of respondents familiar with their organization’s spending said their content marketing budget increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Meanwhile, 66% say they expect their content marketing budget to grow in 2022. Very few saw decreases in budget this year or expect them next year.

The Top Marketing Challenge Ahead

Creating content which appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience and accessing subject matter experts to create content are still a major challenge. It may be because more marketers are leveraging content collaboration tools, or because so many people have been changing jobs over the last 18 months. 

This challenge can be compounded if content marketers only focus on creating content that appeals to those in the C-suite, as research from Netline Corporation shows that the vast majority of content consumption happens within roles outside the C-suite. Marketers must find relevant subject matter experts in 2022 to develop relatable content appealing to numerous roles within their target audience. 

I discussed the future of content generation on my blog and just like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency. I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over, or turning a presentation into a video. Through videos, user generated content, and a variety of content types they can begin to home in on what content resonates most.

Despite the challenges of the recent past, it’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. With new approaches and channels to develop content and engage with audiences, refreshed budgets and agreement that content is king, it’s clear that there is a world of opportunity for B2B content marketers in 2022. 

The Future of Content Generation

If someone offered you a crystal ball that could tell you the future of content generation, would you want it?  As a member of The Upside, an award-winning community and accelerator for thriving consultants, I participated in a recent Clubhouse event discussing the future of content generation.  This got me thinking about trends for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Following an amazing discussion with Erin Halper, CEO of The Upside, and my colleagues Rebecca Orlov, Rachel Dorton, and Lisa Weiss, I asked my LinkedIn network to provide some tips and content marketing trends they were most excited about as we enter the second half of 2021.

As you begin planning your content marketing strategy for the remainder of this year, I encourage you to keep the below trends and tips in mind.  Overall, developing high-quality content that doesn’t necessarily require more resources was a major focus among the panelists. This can go a long way toward crushing key marketing objectives in 2021.

The Emergence of Audio Platforms

Back in April I wrote an article for Search Engine Watch on whether Clubhouse was really worth the hype.  Within the post I explored how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to further add value and drive engagement.  My key takeaway was that although it came onto the market at the right time, I’m cautious about its role over the long term.  As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will have to quickly adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers.

Although I remain interested and active on the platform, I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz.  Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas about the topics target audiences and tuning into and discussing.  The brands that listen openly to new ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Margaret Molloy, the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale added, “I expect to see more audio content from an evolution of live audio platforms including Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse as well as the expansion of podcasts.  The mobility and portability are so attractive as people recommence commuting or continue to do more exercise or even simply walking their dogs!”

Danielle Guzman, the Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “The rise of social audio will drive growth in a conversation-first approach to content.  Start with a conversation (aka social audio platforms) and use that conversation as fuel for your content plan, putting the experts (influencers, SMEs, employee advocates) at the center of your content strategy), and then when you activate on channels, those voices are amplified in content different formats.”

I agree with Danielle and Margaret that audio platforms offer a much-needed relief for the Zoom fatigue many of us experienced this year.  Although they are mobile friendly, they’re merely a part of a set of tools we must have within our pocket.  When used properly and effectively audio can be used to help achieve success for your brand.  The future of audio platforms seems bright, and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time.

Explosion of Video Content

With major events out of play the for bulk of 2021, video and webinar content became even more important—and guess what, it’s not going away.  Consumers want to get information and learn quickly and there’s no better way to do that without video marketing.  Video is a quick and effective medium to communicate your message and educate your audience. Video content is on a seemingly never-ending rise around the world.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report reported that video content is predicted to amount to a whopping 82% of all internet traffic.  Additionally, according to a HubSpot survey, over 54% of consumers would like to see more content from their brands.  It’s pretty clear that video is what we need to focus on in 2021!  

This isn’t to say you should ignore all other forms of content, but it does mean that video must be at the forefront of your strategy.  Sarah-Jane Manco, a marketing and communications senior professional within the financial services industry, added, “I see short form video sticking around for a lot longer.  Our attention spans are shortening thanks to social media, so condensing your message into a 15-30 second video is the way forward!”  

I couldn’t agree more and encourage brands and marketers to continue to develop short content to cut through the digital noise and amplify your story.  It’s important to use a variety of video formats to fit your brand, industry, and niche, and optimize them for every step of the customer’s journey.

The More Personal, the BETTER!

Personalization in 2021 goes beyond merely addressing your customer by their name in emails or when you’re talking to them via chat. In the years to come, technologies like artificial intelligence will make data analysis more efficient and effective, allowing you to achieve hyper-personalized communication.

Providing a stellar customer experience is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s now a true necessity. Customers expect and demand seamless and personalized experiences throughout their journey with your brand.  User-generated content (UGC) is a highly effective way of creating more connected relationships with customers, especially when leveraged across social media channels.    UGC provides an additional stream of content that is typically engaging, authentic and reflective of the overall brand promise.

Building Content Communities

Creators are now in the driver’s seat and users are in for the ride alongside them.  With the rise of Clubhouse offering authenticity through voice or Slack communities across tech, building communities has been a push for marketing teams for the remainder of the year.

However, building communities specifically around content sharing and creation will allow marketing teams to continue to expand their reach, even with fewer resources.

Expanding your reach is great for brand awareness—and, of course, your metrics—but that kind of inclusion is also good for fostering a sense of community with your audience, too.

Repackaging Content

One of the major threads within my LinkedIn post was the use of repurposing content. Repackaging content is nothing new, but the idea is to turn existing content into new formats.  Tom Pick, a B2B Tech Digital Marketing Consultant, added that he thinks “we’ll see more’ video first’ content creation.  Meaning, creators will start by recording an online video with an expert, maybe live, maybe not.  The audio will be repurposed as a podcast, and the transcript as a blog post (or more than one).  Then excerpts will be pulled from a string of these to create an expert roundup post.  It’s the next stage of repurposing.”

This idea of the future state of repurposed and repackaged content will allow for us to turn existing how-to articles into visual flowcharts or revise an article into a podcast or even a mini audiobook.  The main aspect of content repackaging is that a new content piece creates value of its own.  It’s not just about re-marketing your old content simply for additional clicks or conversions.  Content repackaging is the marketing tactic that aims to give your audience a new way to consume information.  It also involves expanding your own content with new research and up-to-date information.

April Rudin the Founder and CEO of the Rudin Group added, “Personalization and the opportunity to repurpose existing content is HUGE particularly for regulated industries like financial services and pharmaceutical, I’m a fan of infographics and data visuals to help tell stories in a snapshot. To me, video should be used sparingly and in short spurts, no one wants to watch lengthy videos or listen to long podcasts without visuals.

Meredith Bodgas, the Editorial Strategy Lead at Toptal, added, “Consider repackaging of existing content to match the different platforms on which you might not be using that content.”  What I love about Meredith’s advice is that it allows us to create new and unique content for a variety of social media channels. It lets us experiment with many content formats and identify our best-working engagement tactics. 

Like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency.  I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article.  Consider using some of the advice within this article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over or turning a presentation into a video. 

A good rule of thumb according to Singlegrain is that we should be spending 20% of our time on content creation and 80% on content promotion.  They offer some great tips within the article about the basics of promotion and the foundation of developing GOOD content.  Remember, content is king, and will continue to be for many years to come.

What else would you add to what’s in store for the future of content generation?  Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @marissapick


USA Today Feature: Future of Virtual & Hybrid Events Campaign

I’m excited to be a parter with Mediaplanet for their Future of Virtual and Hybrid Events campaign which launched this week. The event planning industry has gone through what was probably the most difficult year in its history, but event planners are primed to make a major comeback.

You can learn more about the tools and resources to make your next virtual/hybrid meeting or event a smashing success by picking up a copy of the campaign in USA Today. The virtual campaign can be found online by visiting the website.

I’m a firm believer that virtual conferences of the past year have had a positive impact. The digital events have enabled more people to attend virtually. Many of these events have been free, with participants paying a small fee to access slides, if they choose.  My article for the campaign outlines, How Virtual and Hybrid Events Are Helping the Events Industry Thrive Post-Pandemic.

Hybrid events have allowed brands to have an extended impact, helping them reach a broader audience and drive deeper engagement online. Plus, by developing content and deeper connections with speakers and attendees from virtual events, brands can stand out and have higher retention.

Now’s the time to use digital event platforms to connect audiences and build longer-lasting relationships. Within the article I shared some of my favorite platforms, including Brella, which offers custom, one-to-one meetings, as well as live streaming; and Hopin, which provides webinar sessions, chats and polls, and interactive elements that can be fully customizable and brandable. 

I believe brands must refocus their goals and understand why people will attend the event, whether it’s virtual or in-person. For example, is it for lead generation to drive sales? Content marketing? Engagement? This will allow companies or event producers to refine how they’re doing things, and consider how they might be able to — whether it’s driving sales or driving engagement — mix up and shake up what works and what doesn’t.

Let me know what you think of my article within the campaign. I’d love to hear how you think virtual and hybrid events are helping the events industry thrive post-pandemic. Leave a comment below or send me a tweet with your thoughts.

6 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews on Social Media

The Below is a Guest Post from Mark Lindsay who is a writer and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience working in the industry. He contributes to several digital and print publications on topics related to work and life. He lives in New York. The original article below was originally published at Enplug.com

Have you ever been the target of a negative comment on social media or the recipient of a review that’s less than stellar? If so, you’re not alone. Many small businesses are encountering this problem, especially considering how many customers currently use social platforms to voice their opinions.

Since you can’t simply delete negative comments on social media, though, you’ve got to focus on what you can do: Respond to them effectively. Read on for six helpful tips.

6 Social Media Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

1. Understand the Comment

Customers posting negative comments on social media tend to ramble. It might take you a few minutes to scan through a given comment to mine the essential grievance. Take some time to find out exactly what your customers are dissatisfied with — because you can’t come up with a resolution until you do.

2. Respond Quickly

If you aren’t personally responsible for monitoring your social media accounts, make sure someone in your organization is charged with the task. Negative comments hanging out there with no response can quickly damage your brand. The ultimate goal should be to respond in one business day or less, as long as you can do so professionally.

Customers can share negative and positive reviews in an instant – and they expect a response just as quickly.

3. Never Respond With a Negative Comment

If a comment or review is especially derogatory, it’s only natural for you to want to defend your brand by instinctively adopting the same tone. However, dropping down to a negative level is not going to produce positive results. In fact, it’s only going to make you look insensitive, regardless of whether or not it’s justified.

No matter how you decide to address each issue, keep tact and respect on your radar at all times.

4. Explicitly Ask Customers What They Want

This is a step that many businesses fail to take when responding to negative comments. There’s nothing wrong with coming out and expressly asking dissatisfied clients what they’re after. In a lot of cases, there’s no refund or monetary investment involved — customers just want to know their comments were received and had a positive effect.

5. Don’t Delete Them

The last thing you want to do is delete comments or reviews that shine a negative light on your business. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. If you check out a retailer’s Facebook page and find 100 comments that are nothing but positive, you might get a little suspicious.

Instead, leave the bad comments there, but be sure to craft stellar responses to all of them. This way your current customers — and any potential new ones — know you’re serious about providing high-quality customer service.

For customer service to be the best it needs to continue online even after your customer has left the store.

6. Go Over the Top

If you run a solid operation, you probably don’t get an overwhelming number of negative reviews over social media. Because of that, feel free to overcompensate when you do. For example, if you ship an order incorrectly, refund the full amount plus return shipping charges and an additional 10% of the purchase price — and mention that you did so in your thread.

If your customers just want to be heard, throw them a modest gift card as a gesture of goodwill. This is a great marketing opportunity for your business as it shows you’re willing to do whatever it takes to correct any errors.

Final Thoughts

In general, to avoid negative comments on social media, you should review, and if necessary, revamp your customer service policies. Monitor your team in action, conduct meetings devoted solely to customer service, and make sure your entire staff is well-trained.

Properly responding to negative comments on social media is important, but doing what you can to reduce them is equally essential.

What other strategies do you know of for effectively responding to negative comments on social media? Leave a comment below.

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021.

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, many people spend a large part of their day exploring various social media channels. A study from Globalwebinex showed, on average, people spend three hours a day on social networks and messaging.  Given the prevalence of social media, it’s no surprise that marketers and businesses flock to these channels hoping to connect with their target customers.

As social media is becoming more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various initiatives. That being said, it can be challenging for small businesses to stand out given the massive content overload on social media channels.  Small businesses don’t have the budgets to compete with big brands, who are pumping millions of dollars into paid advertising to promote their products and campaigns. For small businesses to succeed, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, engage.   Having a clear and engaging social media marketing strategy can help small businesses succeed into 2021 and beyond.

I spoke with Clay McDaniel, CEO of  Ripl Inc. regarding social media for small businesses to succeed.   Since many small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with knowledge of how to develop social media content they often look to implement a third-party tool to support their content management needs.  I’ve worked with my fair share of social media tools throughout my career and have been impressed with Ripl Inc.

Clay explained that “With Ripl, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of their business. For about the same price as a lunchtime sandwich per month, you can have thousands of customizable templates available to your company with over 500,000 high-quality images and 90,000 videos at your disposal. You can quickly create trackable professional-grade content and schedule to share it across channels in minutes instead of hours.”

Clay shared several key pieces of advice for small business owners to consider for social media success this January.

  1. Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin tying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
  2. Understand Your Customer – Small businesses often can’t afford to do mass marketing, so you need to make sure your social media activity is pinpointed to your customers’ needs. Spend the time to really personify your customer and what will speak to them and that will help as you develop new content throughout the month and year.
  3. Set goals for your social pages – Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
  4. Add a call-to-action button– This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
  5. Delete or archive old content – Comb through your past Instagram posts and Twitter tweets and decide if any are outdated or no longer applicable to your business. Go through each of your story highlights at the top of your Instagram feed and remove outdated content…and if you’re not yet using Instagram stories for your business, you should start. This is a great way to keep important content indefinitely since highlights last forever while stories only last 24 hours on the platform. Be sure to also go through your past tweets to determine if there are any that might spark controversy or seem tone deaf and delete those, as well. 

COVID-19 has been a game changer for small businesses both within the United States and across the world.  Facing financial constraints and major limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in the need for many small businesses to pivot and come up with innovative solutions to reach their customers in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!).

The advice Clay shares above is crucial for small businesses to succeed on social media channels.   Small businesses have one major advantage over big corporations in my opinion, they can be nimble and seize opportunity.  The ability for a small business to lean in and adapt social media channels in order to evolve in a rapidly changing world is key.

What additional social media tips would you give for small businesses to ensure their success into 2021?

Please take a moment and leave a comment below!

The Biggest Trends in Event Technology for 2020 (G2 Planet)

This week G2 Planet and my colleague Tom Pick published an article entitled The Biggest Trends in Event Technology for 2020 — Per 10 Top Events Experts.  I’m thrilled that my insight was included as one of the event experts within the post.  My “expert” opinion is that as we enter 2020, data will still remain king and crucial for ongoing event success.   I also think personalization is crucial to enhance the overall event experience.  

The article found that the biggest event technology trend is the use of integrated and aggregated data, bringing together information from multiple devices, event apps, event management platforms, social media, and back-end systems like CRM applications (which is, incidentally, exactly what the G2Planet platform was been built for) to give event professionals a holistic view of what’s happening to support data-driven decisions at both the operational and strategic levels.

Check out the full article to see the insights from the other event professionals included.  Below is the insight I shared within the post:

Data remains top-of-mind and crucial for event success into 2020.  Successful companies are using analytics tools such as social listening, mobile apps, lead generation, and more to better meet the needs of their clients and personalize and improve the overall experience.

Pre- and post-event surveys are helpful to collect data and suggestions to help shape the agenda, collect feedback, and more, but successful companies will capture data in real time. 

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Geolocation data can help to personalize the event experience by highlighting activities attendees can check out nearby, alleviate overcrowding and event bottlenecking within specific spaces, send push notifications, collect input and more. 

In the past I’ve used technology to collect responses from attendees in real time and develop custom graphics for our social media channels to collect our onsite and virtual audiences.  Numerous technologies allow delegates to respond in real time and engage with the event to gamify the experience while providing insight to help shape their experience.  Personalizing the event experience is key for success and can help to solve real-time event problems and create a memorable experience for delegates. 

As a reminder, this is just a sample and I encourage you to check out the full article by visiting the following link.

What do YOU think the biggest trends will be in event technology into 2020.  Leave a comment below.