On this episode of The Lede, Demian Farnworth and I spend a little time purposefully reflecting on 2014 and the most important lessons we will carry forward with us into 2015.
For so many of us, the end of every year revolves around holiday celebrations and spending quality time with friends and family. As it should.
But the end of the year is also a time for purposeful reflection ÛÓ for considering the successes and failures of the year gone by, and for making sure that lessons have been learned and that plans are in place to hit the ground running in the new year.
In this episode, Demian Farnworth and I discuss:
- The impact of Google killing Authorship
- Predictions about Google+ and Author Rank
- Why we eliminated blog comments and our Facebook page
- Is native advertising working?
- The intersection of serving your audience and creating a profitable business
- How empathy can influence the customer experience
- The next episode of The Lede: looking ahead to the evolution of content marketing in 2015
Listen to The Lede below …
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The Show Notes
- Authority Rainmaker ÛÓ CopybloggerÛªs second annual live conference focused on providing content marketing training and networking opportunities for real-world results
- The 5 WÛªs of Link Curation (includes JerodÛªs ROAR framework for assessing share-worthiness) ÛÓ The Lede
- The end of Google Authorship
- Google Authorship May Be Dead, But Author Rank Is Not ÛÓ by Danny Sullivan
- What if Author Rank Never Happens? ÛÓ by Brian Clark
- The Right Way to Think About Google ÛÓ by Sonia Simone
- Why WeÛªre Removing Comments on Copyblogger ÛÓ by Sonia Simone
- Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page ÛÓ by Erika Napoletano
- CopybloggerÛªs 2014 State of Native Advertising Report ÛÓ by Demian Farnworth
- 12 Examples of Native Ads (And Why They Work) ÛÓ by Demian Farnworth
- Study: Most Readers Have Felt Deceived by Sponsored Content ÛÓ by Joe Lazauskas
- What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong ÛÓ by Tony Haile
- Rainmaker Platform ÛÓ the complete website solution for content marketers and Internet entrepreneurs
- How to Make Winning Infographics Without Risk ÛÓ by Demian Farnworth
- 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic] ÛÓ by Demian Farnworth
- How Empathy Maps Help You Speak Directly to the Hearts of Your Audience ÛÓ The Lede
- Google: ÛÏDear SophieÛ commercial
- Procter & Gamble: ÛÏThank you, MomÛ Olympics commercial
- Interview with Brian Clark: How Customer Experience Maps Help You Develop a Smarter Content Strategy ÛÓ The Lede
The Lede is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, the live event that will help you accelerate your business with an integrated content, search, and social media marketing experience.
Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.
The Lede Podcast: The Most Important Lessons We Learned in 2014
Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. IÛªm your host, Jerod Morris.
This episode of The Lede is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, CopybloggerÛªs second annual live conference focused on providing content marketing training and networking opportunities for real-world results.
Authority Rainmaker takes place in May of 2015, and will be held at the stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Colorado. Keynote presentations will be delivered by Daniel Pink, Sally Hogshead, and Henry Rollins.
Super early-bird pricing is still available. Go to authorityrainmaker.com for details.
For so many of us, the end of every year revolves around holiday celebrations and spending quality time with friends and family, as it should.
But the end of the year is also a time for purposeful reflection, for considering the successes and failures of the year gone by and for making sure that lessons have been learned and that plans are in place to hit the ground running in the new year.
On this episode of The Lede, Demian Farnworth and I spend a little time purposefully reflecting on 2014 and the most important lessons we will carry forward with us into 2015.
Demian, when you reflect back on 2014, what sticks out in your mind?
Demian Farnworth: What sticks out in my mind? The fact that you roared on one of our episodes.
Jerod: Okay, thatÛªs ridiculous. What about Û_
Jerod: (Laughing) Û_ content marketing?
Demian: Oh, content marketing! Okay. Content marketing.
Thinking back over 2014, I think of two major events that ÛÓ I donÛªt want to say defined content marketing ÛÓ but at least changed the course, gave it a rumble, so to speak.
The first event was when Google killed Authorship, and the other one was the emergence of native advertising.
The impact of Google killing Authorship
Jerod: LetÛªs start with Google killing Authorship, because obviously that was big news.
What about that really sticks out? And then, more importantly, what can we learn from that?
Demian: Google Authorship was something that Google rolled out about three years ago in June.
It was an experiment, and ÛÓ as we know with Google, nothing is a sacred cow ÛÓ the experiment failed.
Google Authorship was supposed to allow authors to claim their content and then display it in search results with markup code.
Over the past three years, weÛªve probably all seen when weÛªve gone to Google and searched for something that some of those entries had photos on them. ThatÛªs the display or the image support that Google allowed.
Google was trying to connect authors with their content, because they had PageRank, and PageRank evaluates and judges content based upon the content on that page.
The other half of the equation is who is the author. They wanted to bring in an authority factor. So it was not just the content on the page that was important but also who wrote it.
Authorship was their attempt to do that, and it didnÛªt work out. Ultimately, they killed image support. They actually, in December of 2013, reduced image support and then ultimately killed it in June of 2014.
Then just this past August, Google said AuthorshipÛªs done, and itÛªs gone.
The reasons why they did it were, first, low adoption rates. People werenÛªt implementing it. It was somewhat complex. It was even absent in some verticals.
You go to some industries, and itÛªs completely absent. Nobody was implementing it.
And, in fact, it had such a low adoption rate only 30 percent of the top 50 most influential social media marketers had implemented Authorship.
Those who youÛªd think it would be most important to werenÛªt even getting involved, werenÛªt even interested in it.
The other reason it failed was that it just had low value to searchers. The novelty had worn off.
Google sees that half their searches come from mobile devices. And since photos and Authorship snippets didnÛªt look right in mobile searches, they decided to kill it.
Predictions about Google+ and Author Rank
Jerod: Let me jump in here and highlight a lesson, what we can take from this.
When Authorship came out, there was a pretty big rush of people, especially in our industry, who implemented it on their sites, and with good reason.
And it also seemed to really increase Google+ usage there for awhile. Once they removed Authorship, it feels like people have started to use Google+ less.
The lesson is, as always, with Google and any of these social media sites: You have to be careful about putting too many eggs in one basket because the rules of the game can change at any time, just as they did here.
ItÛªs not that implementing Authorship was a waste of time by any means, but itÛªs just another lesson that these things can change.
It should just be one portion of your strategy, and you never want to go all in on anything that you donÛªt control.
Demian: ThatÛªs right. And I wouldnÛªt be surprised ÛÓ even though theyÛªve said contrary ÛÓ if at some point in the future that Google kills Google+.
Because itÛªs a social site now as it stands, and thatÛªs the only function that itÛªs really serving. Unless they find a fundamental use for it, itÛªs not serving a business objective.
I would not doubt that it goes away, too. Because we saw comments and such drop off on our actual Copyblogger profile, and I think part of that is because Authorship ended.
However, Author Rank itself ÛÓ the concept that Google is trying to judge content based on who wrote it ÛÓ is not dead.
And Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land discusses the current state of Author Rank in a good article weÛªll provide in the show notes.
Because itÛªs still used in whatÛªs known as in-depth articles, and of course, Google hasnÛªt told us this, but they have other ways of identifying author authority.
Brian asked the question in an article he wrote: What if Author Rank never happens?
The answer is: It doesnÛªt matter as long as youÛªre still building authority and creating great content ÛÓ then you have nothing to fear.
ItÛªs what weÛªve been teaching you for the last eight years. If you continue to do those things, youÛªre in good shape.
Why we eliminated blog comments and our Facebook page
Jerod: One of the lessons thatÛªs become a lot more clear to me this year is the idea that weÛªre all in business, right?
An online business, or in business to make money ÛÓ but to make money while serving an audience.
ThatÛªs why I think itÛªs so important to understand this intersection of where you offer the most value to your audience, and then what drives profit in your business.
And this is going to be different for everyone, right?
Two decisions we made this year that created a lot of discussion were removing blog comments and killing our Facebook page.
Some people agreed, some people didnÛªt, and everyoneÛªs entitled to their own opinion.
For us, it really came down to understanding where we provide the most value for our audience with limited resources.
We canÛªt be everywhere at all times and everything to all people, so where do we provide the most value?
In terms of our business, what actually drives revenue and profit? Understanding that intersection is what led to those decisions.
ItÛªs what you have to understand and think about when you consider possibilities such as ÛÏshould we go after Google+, or should we step back from Google+? What social networks are we going to invest in? What type of content are we going to invest in?Û
It really is a lesson that is not specific to 2014, but understanding that intersection of where youÛªre providing value for your audience and where you derive the most business value really is a way to guide your decisions.
Demian: ThatÛªs right.
Is native advertising working?
Jerod: LetÛªs move on to the next one. I know that you wanted to talk about native advertising.
As you reflect back on the big research project you did on native advertising, what are your thoughts?
Demian: Native advertising has got to be the buzzword of the year, I think. Especially at the start of the year, it was huge.
Companies were coming out of the woodwork to support it, and the funny thing is: we did a series and survey about it, and not very many people actually knew what it is.
In fact, our native advertising survey results demonstrated nearly 50 percent of the respondents didnÛªt have a clue what native advertising is, and another 48 percent had a shaky understanding of what it is.
There were only about three percent that were very knowledgeable about it, and I guarantee those were people who have businesses that cropped up to serve native advertising.
For those who donÛªt know, native advertising is paid content that matches a publicationÛªs editorial standards while meeting the audienceÛªs expectations.
For example, if you go to BuzzFeed, you can see lots of examples of promoted content, native advertising. If you go there right now, youÛªll see promoted content by PlayStation and Heinz.
Another thing, too, is native advertising is not new. ItÛªs just new online.
Because David Ogilvy was doing native advertising back when he did campaigns for Guinness beer, and we termed that an advertorial.
It looked like an article, a top 10 best-of list, but it was an ad for Guinness. It was to promote their beer. It had a clear call to action, which is basically that a Guinness guy eats oysters.
You eat oysters, and itÛªs best to wash them down with Guinness beer. Now we have the same thing online.
ThatÛªs the editorial side of native advertising.
ThereÛªs also the in-feed ad side of it: TwitterÛªs promoted posts, FacebookÛªs promoted stories. YouÛªll see in-stream ads inside apps, and Google text ads are also an idea that comes from native advertising.
ItÛªs just advertising that is basically invading, coming into the editorial space, but itÛªs designed to look as if it was editorial, if it was an article.
Jerod: Let me ask you: is it working? Does it work, and what opportunities does it provide, especially as we look forward into next year?
Demian: ThatÛªs a great question because hereÛªs the thing: Native advertising has been a boon for publishers.
Many big, blue-chip media companies have come collapsing down because they canÛªt compete in the online world.
Well, here comes native advertising and publishers get to sell major real estate at a premium price.
Advertisers pay for this space, so this revenue model actually saves these businesses.
BuzzFeed is a great example. VICE is another example. For the time being, this revenue model is profitable. The question is, like you said, will it be profitable in the long run?
This is to be seen, because eventually the novelty will wear off. And in fact, the sponsored contentÛªs native advertising does have a trust problem.
Contently ran a survey in 2014 and demonstrated that people look at, say, an advertorial in Entrepreneur magazine by Dell with a very skeptical eye.
And then ChartBeat, a data analytics company, did a survey in early 2014. They said people simply are not scrolling on this content.
Either advertisers are going to wise up and say, ÛÏNative advertising isnÛªt working,Û or they will create compelling content that will actually engage an audience, and maybe close that trust gap.
The opportunities are two-fold, I think. Brands are hiring a lot more writers to fill this gap because they see the value in native advertising, sponsored content, and promoted content.
WeÛªve seen a lot of journalists become content marketers.
But this could also be a revenue model for small-time publishers ÛÓ actually allowing brands to come in and create content for their site as an ad.
But again, this is like what you mentioned earlier. You donÛªt want to put all of your eggs in one basket.
The intersection of serving your audience and creating a profitable business
Jerod: And for some advertisers, native advertising isnÛªt going to be possible simply because of the budget.
Like you said, itÛªs a big opportunity for small-time publishers, but when you look at it from the content creator side, itÛªs not always going to be feasible.
That leads me into another lesson from 2014. ThereÛªs a lot of discussion about content shock ÛÓ thereÛªs all this content out there, so how do you rise above it?
YouÛªve got to create better content. That simply doesnÛªt change. The quality of your content, its usefulness to an audience, has to continue to get better.
That may mean thinking outside the box and finding new ways to reach people and new ways to maximize different mediums.
Most of our audience, as well as us at Copyblogger, donÛªt have unlimited resources or unlimited budgets, right?
Jerod: If weÛªre going to invest more in our content, weÛªve got to take time, effort, and resources away from something else.
You have to find a balance between content and technology.
If you can find ways to be more efficient with what youÛªre doing on the technology side, it will give you more resources on the content side.
And obviously for us, we released the Rainmaker Platform as the solution. The technical part of your business is taken care of on this one platform so that you can focus more on content.
I think as we look into 2015 that is going to continue to be so important, especially for publishers, advertisers, and companies who donÛªt have unlimited resources.
For most of us, we need to find ways to be more efficient with technology so that we can invest more time into creating better content and become more successful with our content marketing efforts.
Demian: And I think to add to that, the idea of content shock is silly because weÛªve always been under a deluge of content. ThereÛªs never been a shortage.
I canÛªt think of any time in my past that IÛªve ever had a surplus of time to consume all the content that was out there. ItÛªs always been a flood of content.
ItÛªs really about content fatigue, right? Saying the same thing over and over. Rather than ÛÏefficient,Û I think a better word is probably being ÛÏeffectiveÛ with your content.
For example, instead of a daily publishing schedule, maybe you only publish twice a week so you have time to focus on creating and researching.
Because the thing is, you have to figure out a way to rise above the noise. If you can pour more of your resources on one piece of content, then youÛªre going to create something better than if youÛªre spreading resources out to create five pieces of content.
ItÛªs also this idea of creating asset pillars, and I talked about this in a blog post on infographics. The infographic an as asset pillar reduces your content strategy time.
Say you wrote five different articles that are in your archives. YouÛªd take those, create an infographic, and then you create a podcast from that infographic, like we did with the 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs.
ItÛªs being smarter with what you have, especially for the small-time publishers. It allows you to pour more energy, focus, and creativity into one particular piece of content.
It gives you a fighting chance versus spreading yourself thin.
Jerod: ThatÛªs a great point. So one more topic, here, before we close out this episode, and that is empathy, which is one of the biggest buzzwords from 2014.
Anybody who attended our first Authority conference in Denver in May knows empathy was a big word. It really carried throughout the entire year.
LetÛªs close out by talking about empathy and then also how it influences that next-step idea of experience and journey maps.
How empathy can influence the customer experience
Demian: Empathy is this idea of relating to your customer, being in their shoes, but then also wanting to provide a solution to their problem.
For example, I have empathy for freelancers, because IÛªve been in their shoes and I understand them. I know where theyÛªre at, and so I can speak to their plight. Their plight resonates with my plight.
Being able to do that is what weÛªre after. And so empathy is just another way of saying something that weÛªve been saying for quite some time, which is about focus on the customer rather than upon ourselves.
WeÛªre constantly fighting this from a commercial standpoint. You shift from ÛÏitÛªs all about me, the brandÛ to ÛÏitÛªs all really about the customer.Û
In regard to empathy, what weÛªre trying to do is just relate to them. Google did this when they were promoting some of their products, like Chrome and gmail.
They did it through the dad using Google products to chronicle the birth of his daughter and document milestones as she grows up. ThatÛªs empathy, right?
Procter & Gamble did a commercial for mothers who are raising Olympic athletes that spoke to everything mothers do for their children.
It was a short commercial, but the idea was ÛÏwe understand, we see what you do, so we want to create products that help you do your job better.Û ThatÛªs empathy, too.
Jerod: Our next episode of The Lede will tie what we learned in 2014 into what weÛªre going to focus on in 2015.
Empathy is really the first step toward being able to provide the most personalized experience to your users.
You have to understand what theyÛªre thinking, what theyÛªre feeling, and what theyÛªre going through to really be able to tailor content thatÛªs going to fit their needs at any given time.
The next episode of The Lede: looking ahead to the evolution of content marketing in 2015
Jerod: I think one of the concepts that is starting to gain some traction that will gain even more traction in 2015 is adaptive content.
You canÛªt adapt content if you donÛªt understand who youÛªre adapting it for. And thatÛªs why empathy is such an important building block and foundational principle.
WeÛªre actually going to talk about that in our next episode. This episode was more about looking back to 2014.
Our next episode, which will be the final episode of The Lede in 2014, we will look ahead to 2015 and talk about some of the trends that we expect to see and how we individually, and as a company, are planning to capitalize on those.
Jerod: Any final thoughts here, Mr. Farnworth, before we close?
Demian: Yes. I was just going to say I have an article coming out on experience maps that will explain more of what weÛªre talking about here.
But itÛªs a natural progression from empathy to experience maps. An experience map is just a story of how your customer interacts with your product and your brand from start to finish.
We talked about customer experience maps with Brian, and as I did more research on it, it became clear that itÛªs a natural next step to what weÛªre calling adaptive content.
Because once you understand who your customer is and the interactions they have, and you see the high points and the low points, then you can create a better, a sublime customer experience from that experience map.
I suggest creating a prescriptive map, meaning looking forward. What is the most sublime, supreme customer experience you can create?
You can only do that by resonating, knowing your audience, knowing your customer, creating that experience map, and then creating that content, which then adapts to how they interact with your brand.
Jerod: In closing, Demian, I know weÛªre recording this podcast before Thanksgiving, but itÛªll be released after. I just want you to know that IÛªm very thankful for you and for your contributions to The Lede.
Demian: ThatÛªs very, very, very sweet of you. I need to find a tissue.
Jerod: (Chuckles) All right.
Demian: I am very, very grateful for you too, Jerod. Honestly.
Jerod: Thank you.
Demian: Yes. And you have a wonderful Thanksgiving in your new home, with your gal. Are you guys spending Thanksgiving in your new home?
Jerod: No. We are actually doing the family thing this year, and then next year will be the first time that we bring everybody together in the house.
Demian: Great. Right. Okay, good. All right, buddy.
Jerod: Yes. All right, man. Always a pleasure, and weÛªll be back to wrap up the year in a couple weeks.
Demian: IÛªll be talking to you. Sounds good, man. Take care.
Jerod: All right. Bye.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Lede. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider giving the show a rating or a review on iTunes. We would greatly appreciate it.
And donÛªt forget to go to authorityrainmaker.com and check out all the details about the Authority Rainmaker live conference coming in May of 2015.
You wonÛªt want to miss it, and the super early-bird pricing is still available.
All right, everybody. We will be back two weeks from now with one final episode to wrap up 2014 as we look forward to 2015.
*Credits: Both the intro (ÛÏBridge to NowhereÛ by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (ÛÏDown in the ValleyÛ by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.
The post The Most Important Lessons You Should Have Learned in 2014 appeared first on The Digital Marketing Podcast Network.