Techmeme de-clickbait-ifying

Techmeme is the first thing I check every morning. It’s my window to the tech world. One of things I really appreciate is their human editing of headlines. Not only do they de-clickbaitify, but they also add details that help to communicate the real story.

Here’s a story from The Verge:

Apple updates iTunes with a ‘simpler’ design that doesn’t really help

And here’s the Techmeme augmented version:

Apple releases iTunes 12.4, brings back left sidebar, but doesn’t address core issues with navigation and possibly makes it worse

Here’s a headline from The Washington Post:

What happened when a professor built a chatbot to be his teaching assistant

And here’s the much more useful Techmeme version:

Computer science professor successfully used IBM’s Watson to make an AI teaching assistant for answering questions online

Next time you plan something, write something, send something, make sure you are adding value, not squandering attention.

There’s a reason I head to Techmeme everyday, and hardly ever to The Verge.

HubShots update

It’s been a little while since I mentioned HubShots, the podcast I co-host with Ian Jacob.

Here’s a few recent items of interest you may have missed:

  • in episode 32 we discussed chatbots
  • in episode 31 we discussed the morality of ghostwriting
  • in episode 30 we discussed going old school with Facebook page like campaigns
  • in episode 29 we discussed inbound sales certification

I’d love to know if you find them interesting and useful.

On the whole ‘un-gate all the things’ trend going on at the moment

You might have seen posts like this one from Drift where companies discuss their amazing new idea about un-gating content ie no more forms to be filled out in order to access ebooks and the like. There’s a follow up here, and then an Inbound.org discussion where other marketers chime in.

A few thoughts:

  • if this works for Drift, that’s great, but don’t assume it will work for you
  • for Drift the exposure they’ve gained from their article is likely producing tons more signups than any of their forms for content assets ever would have, so it’s a nice campaign they’ve put together here. But don’t assume it will work for you
  • MailChimp did this ages ago as well, and have had a lot of success. But they are a huge brand, so don’t assume it will also work for you
  • David Meerman Scott has been offering free, un-gated ebooks for close to a decade (get them here) and it very effectively builds his personal brand, but don’t assume it will work for you
  • If you offer a free trial for your product, then un-gating everything else might work for (ie don’t get in the prospect’s way)
  • But if you offer a high-end product with a long sales cycle, then don’t assume it will work for you
  • And if you offer a consulting service that works well with a nurture sequence, then don’t assume un-gating all your content assets will work for you

Ultimately it’s about value. If you offer something unique and compelling enough, then asking for an email address is a fair trade. Giving it away for free might actually work against you – your reader might de-value not only the content, but your overall offering as well.

Think carefully before suddenly changing your lead generation strategy.

Facebook Custom Audiences just keep getting better and better

If you haven’t yet implemented Custom Web Audiences in Facebook, then you continue to miss out on an amazing marketing opportunity.

And the recent updates (starting to roll out now) are even more useful. Jon Loomer has an excellent hands-on overview of the new CWA enhancements. In particular the ability to create audiences based on the number of times a visitor has been to your site (or a particular URL) in the last X days. Powerful stuff.

Podcasting thoughts I agree with

I liked Marco Arment’s thoughts about Apple’s dominant position in the podcast world. It was a response to this NYT article. Speaking about Apple’s role in podcasting Marco writes:

Apple has only ever used its dominant position benevolently and benignly so far, and as the medium has diversified, Apple’s role has shrunk. The last thing podcasters need is for Apple to increase its role and dominance.

And the last thing we all need is for the “data” economy to destroy another medium.

Being a podcaster myself I’m actually a data fan (was going to say a ‘big data fan’, but that would confuse things) and love analysing analytics to learn more about interactions and behaviours. So my natural tendency is to want more – especially with podcasting where the data available is definitely light. But in the scheme of things I’m persuaded heavily by Marco’s comments (and John Gruber’s).

Giving blood

I give blood every 12 weeks at my local Red Cross blood donation centre. According to Red Cross a blood donation could save up to 3 lives. Which makes me feel good about myself. Which is why I do it. And why you should consider doing it too. To feel good about your self.

If that sounds selfish it’s because it is.

Last year I was looking for ways to feel good about myself, that actually did do some good. Turns out most things that we do to feel good about ourselves, actually have very little benefit. Recycling is a good example. We feel good about it, because we think we’re doing something good, but (with the exception of some metals) recycling is mostly useless. The main benefit of recycling is that people feel good about themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Other examples of mostly useless things we do to feel good about ourselves include food drives, fun runs to raise money, awareness campaigns (think pink) and clothing drop-offs.

But if you want to do something that actually helps, consider giving blood.

Peter Singer first put me onto this in his book on Effective Altruism, and although he refers to it as being altruistic I have no such illusions. I’m as selfish and self-absorbed as the next person, but I want to be efficient as well. Finding something where I can selfishly feel good about myself whilst actually doing something useful at the same time is a hard ask. Blood donation is a rare find. Embrace it.

Twitter’s Ad problem

From a re/code article last week:

But Twitter isn’t novel anymore, and brands and agencies who want to play with a new shiny object can go to Snapchat.

and then:

…sales on Twitter’s own properties — see how it’s dropping faster than the rest of Twitter’s revenue, which includes its third-party ad network? That’s brand advertisers pulling away from Twitter faster than direct response advertisers — the kind that buy app-install ads and other “click now” ads.

Music to my ears – while brand advertisers leave for more expensive pastures I’m now ramping up Twitter campaigns for our clients. Not so shiny, but better ROI.