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Five Top Ways Contributed Articles Can Drive Thought Leadership – Part II

Part I of this piece can be found here 

English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” – an adage still relevant today. Contributed articles can go a long way to increase your visibility and expand your share of voice that can give you edge over your competitors.

In Part I, we discussed how contributed articles can help you stake a claim, identify trends and boost credibility. Here are a few more ways in which contributed articles can be leveraged to help you emerge ahead of the pack as a thought leader.

Provoke Thought or Undermine Status Quo
Good enough is usually never good enough. Customers are always looking for something faster, stronger, more efficient – or a whole new way of doing things.

That said, people don’t know what they don’t know. Where you will shine the brightest as a thought leader is when you introduce ideas that no one has even considered. This might mean you throw some (well warranted) shade at some industry behemoths or question an established industry trend – one that is pretty much accepted by everyone.

For example, an article with the headline “Is Digital Transformation Killing Your Entrepreneurial Spirit?” will likely get some backlash. But it will also get page views — a lot more than an article titled “The Pros and Cons of Digital Transformation.” It will also inspire conversation and new ways of thinking.

Contributed articles allow you to ask the really tough questions – even ones that make readers a little uncomfortable – in order to move the industry from its resting place and galvanize change. Even if you get some flack from readers, contributed articles be the vehicle to turn the status quo on its head by challenging previously held beliefs and make things better.

Point Out Industry Gaps and Shortfalls
No one likes to confront their shortcomings up close and personal. So, it can be challenging to get people, companies or industries to take a hard look at what isn’t working and own it. Among the many reasons is that once they become aware of their shortcomings, they will be responsible for making necessary changes.

Yet, as difficult as it can be, it’s often necessary in order for a paradigm shift or any meaningful change to occur. And it has to start somewhere. Contributed articles can be the spark that sets that kind of comprehensive change in motion. They can be used to shed light on a problem that has been hidden or covered up. They can expose gaping holes in management, technology, processes, strategy or ways of thinking that many have known about for a long time but were too afraid to articulate.

(For example, why HAVE healthcare organizations kept regulations in place that prevent them from updating security defenses. Or why do organizations continue to entrust third parties with critical data without oversight?)

It can be harder still to get them to take responsibility and outline a roadmap for change. But no system, technology or industry has changed without someone illuminating its flaws and where it could do better, beforehand.

Thought leaders can use contributed articles to point out that the emperor indeed has no clothes by identifying gaps and failings. But more than that, contributed articles can also be used to thoughtfully present solutions and push an industry in a new direction that will be ultimately be required for an even greater paradigm shift to occur down the road.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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Five Ways Your Contributed Article Can Drive Thought Leadership- Part I

Contributed articles are a mainstay of any successful PR program. They increase visibility. They drive credibility in your industry. They enable you to articulate your message precisely the way you want.

And above all else – they allow you to boost thought leadership. From the moment you sign with a PR agency – like 10Fold – you hear how a consistent and robust contributed article program will position you as a thought leader in your market.

Now the definition of a thought leader varies, depending on who you talk to. Though relatively subjective, Wikipedia defines thought leader as “an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.”

For our clients, that means that the companies that they are building and the cutting edge technology that they are offering today will be used as a platform for leading, growing and articulating the trajectory of an entire industry tomorrow.

So how can you leverage contributed content to expand your share of voice and emerge ahead of the pack as an industry thought leader? While there is neither a simple formula nor straight trajectory that leads directly to thought leadership, here are a few ways your contributed articles can be used to help put you on that path.

Stake a Claim Without Apology
One major hallmark of a leader – or thought leader – is that they drive forward with confidence. The same standards apply to your contributed article.

By definition, industry leaders charter their own path, invoke new ways of thinking and inspire new ideas – even if those ideas aren’t ready to be fully accepted in the marketplace. The contributed article is your mouthpiece for driving home revolutionary new ideas that hold the potential to spark an industry paradigm shift.

What does that look like? For example, the security industry might never defeat ransomware. Next-generation anything might already be obsolete. Certain enterprise platforms might be going the way of the dodo. It’s likely your assertions might make some uncomfortable – and that’s okay.

So — as long as you can factually support your claims — don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground and take a few risks.

Bolster Credibility (With Strong Research)
Anyone can make a claim – that’s the easy part. But what will ultimately drive credibility and boost your esteem in the industry are claims that hold up to a lot of outside criticism – a LOT.

As your visibility and thought leadership expands, it’s likely you will find yourself under increased scrutiny by competitors and others intent on removing you from your leadership pedestal. And you need to be prepared. Making claims that are factually incorrect or arguments that are full of holes will swiftly and surely diminish your credibility and make it that much more difficult for the industry to realize your vision.

Contributed articles enable you to bolster market standing – while also extinguishing outside criticism — by giving you a palette to present rational, factually sound arguments supporting your claims. At the very least, you’ll have the ability to leverage statistics, research and forecasts from credible sources to shake off the naysayers. If you’re citing your own original research, you can rely on industry analysts and researchers that will underscore why it was important.

In any case, you can expect that your message will increasingly be placed under the microscope– especially as your share of voice increases. The real thought leaders will be able to weather the storm of scrutiny that will only intensify as they gain an edge over your competition.

Identify Trends First
If you’re discussing a trend mid-cycle, it’s likely that the most critical wave has already passed or is about to. Among other things, leaders are visionaries – and that means they’re looking two, five or ten steps ahead.

Customers and readers alike want to know where to go next, whether it’s the next technology investment, enterprise infrastructure implementation or cool new gadget. They want to know where to invest their money and resources. And they want to be the first

Contributed articles give you a way to thoroughly articulate what the industry can expect from the VC community or whether their startup should invest in cryptocurrency – not just now, but five years from now. Essentially, your article is your vehicle for mapping new directions for the industry, and then driving them there.

Find part II of this piece here.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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How to Play Your Cards in Getting that Promotion

One of the biggest considerations most people have in their careers is when to expect, or ask for, their next promotion. Let’s face it: a promotion sounds like it solves a lot of problems. It demonstrates that your efforts have actually meant something meaningful, and it validates your successes to those that care about you, as well as to those in the industry. Most importantly, a promotion often comes with a nice bump in salary which helps you pay for an upgrade in your San Francisco apartment, makes the payment on your new Tesla, or affords the Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, or Lyft account you just opened (depending on the promotion we are talking about). Promotion criteria can change, depending on the phase the industry you work in may be in. During times of steep growth, experienced people for high-level jobs may be few and far between – creating earlier-than-normal opportunities for faster promotions. But how do you know if the time is right for a promotion? Read on…

Differentiating Promotions from Raises
It may be obvious to most of you, but let’s start with the basics: a promotion is different than a raise. A raise is recognition for doing a good job – and perhaps a bit of an incentive for continuing to do a great job. A promotion means you will be taking a new job, with new (and sometimes added) responsibilities. When asking for a promotion, carefully consider what you are asking for. Sure, you would like the additional cash associated with the next level – but are you ready to deliver the work at that level? One common “myth” that I sometimes find people adhering to is that time is the marker to identify someone who deserves a promotion. I’ve heard on more than one occasion, “I’ve been here two years, I deserve a promotion.” My contention is that time has little, if anything, to do with it (that’s the good and the bad news). Time often suggests you have been assigned a task a certain number of times – but does not indicate your level of success or the quality of your work, nor does it suggest the initiative you have put into your job. The good news about not using time as the primary measuring stick is that if you demonstrate repeatedly the ability to do something successfully, even after only a short period of time, you may be ready to move to the next level. The point is, don’t let yourself be bound by time.

Are You Ready?
Admittedly It’s hard to be totally objective about your own work – but before you have that conversation with your manager, it’s good to think through your personal readiness for the next job. Here are a few tips that should help you:

1. Read your current job description (and if your company doesn’t make that easily accessible to you, you should ask that they do). How many of the objectives have you met? Try to differentiate the things you have done successfully once or twice from the things you have done successfully on a repeated basis. If you have accomplished 80 percent or more of the items on the job description, that’s a good thing! Onto step two!

2. Read the job description for the level above your current position. How many of those objectives are you successfully meeting? Pay special attention to whether you can demonstrate that you have done those several times, without assistance.

3. If you feel you are not only doing the job you currently hold successfully, but are doing 25 to 30 percent of the job above yours successfully, it’s time to sit down with your manager and make sure that his or her opinions align with yours. In this conversation, check for qualitative differences, which are typically the basis of any misalignment. Ask for training or a mentor to help you work on those things. Most importantly, get specific on what success does look like and ask how long they think it will take you to get to the point of being successful at whatever is holding you back. It is really important that you have a trusting relationship with your manager, and the manager above him or her. They should definitely be advocating for you in this process.

Is it Worth the Wait?
It’s easy to get discouraged when you are waiting on a promotion. The important thing to understand is why your company is also waiting. Sometimes promotions are not made at the time people are “ready,” but instead made when it suits the business. Some businesses plan only a specific number of promotions per year, and the other people who are ready for a promotion simply have to wait until the next time the business is ready – which sets up an unhealthy competitive dynamic, a la Hunger Games. For example, some European PR firms promote only every 16 months – and have only a few promotions to offer based on profitability goals. And some small PR agencies simply cannot afford the higher salaries associated with promotions, because their revenue stream is unpredictable. If these are the reasons given to you about the wait on your promotion, then my advice is to seek another employer. This type of system is unpredictable and the owners or key executives are putting profit before staff – and you deserve better.

Another consideration is how long you have been waiting. As mentioned earlier, while time is far from the only factor in determining a promotion, let’s face it, it does take a certain amount of time to repetitively accomplish a task successfully. If your job is to do tasks that require only a short time frame to complete (such as a few hours to a couple of days), then a promotion in less than a year is feasible. When the tasks become more complex and take longer to measure success, you might have to wait 18 months to two years.

Finally, when seeking a promotion within your place of business, or if you are looking to take a higher position in a new company than one you’ve had in the past, make sure your references align with your title aspirations. A couple of years ago I had an account executive interview for an account manager position. His only references referred to his work as an intern. They couldn’t speak to his work quality at the account manager level – only that he was a nice guy. Recent examples and references that speak to you doing some or most of the job you are going after are really important.

Are all the Boxes Checked?
What is most important is that you can demonstrate readiness for the promotion you are seeking. This will demonstrate that you are thoughtful, strategic and not impatient (which makes a big difference to your perspective employer). Demonstrating that you’ve spent time to devise an ambitious yet realistic career path will create even more trust with your current or future employer. Talk to your manager, make sure they are advocating for you, and have a realistic (and as objective as possible) perspective of your strengths and your gaps, and practice talking about both comfortably.
Good luck as you climb the career ladder!

By Susan Thomas

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Reaching the High Bar: What Business Press Want From Their Sources

Placement in business press is the gold standard by which your PR efforts are measured. Publications like Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and others represent a high bar because of their prestige, influence and broad reach. When our clients get a feature in Bloomberg or New York times, it’s usually framed and hung in the office foyer or otherwise worthy of front and center placement on the home page of the company web site.

However, for most clients — especially smaller start-ups – it seems that business press is all but out of reach for anyone not included on the Fortune 500. And there’s a grain of truth to that. For one, unless your name is Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or the like, there’s little chance that business press will cover any straight product announcements. Meanwhile, business publications – congruent with the media industry in general – are dealing with shrinking staffs that have little time to address the hundreds of pitches they see in their inboxes on a daily basis.

For many of the same reasons, funding coverage – once eagerly sought by business press reporters – is also diminishing. For the last several years, VCs have invested liberally in the start-up community, and as a result, many funding announcements are often deprioritized or ignored altogether by reporters. And while VCs have only recently started to pull back, reporters now seldom cover announcements less than $25M.

So what are business press reporters actually looking for?

They’re looking to tell a story.
A company and/or product by themselves are not interesting. But when placed in the context of a broader trend or story, stand-alone products have the potential garner attention from even the most scrutinizing tier one reporters. When crafting the announcement, ask yourself, what does this mean for the industry? Customers? Is this part an ongoing or more significant story that is unfolding? Could this be a catalyst for change? The release of a cloud storage platform, for example, might actually capture their attention when put in the context of a story on how niche life science firms are adjusting to both storing significantly more data and adhering to new compliance regulations aimed at protecting it. Viewing your story from the lens of a reporter will give you the ability to pre-emptively address their objections while also crafting a narrative that they’ll actually want to write.

They’re looking for simple explanations.
Business press are catering to a broad audience, with the majority of their readers in the business community. While readership may include some technology experts, most will only have a laymen’s understanding of technology industry concepts. Therefore, don’t assume the reporter knows as much as you do about your subject (chances are they don’t). Provide simple and clear narratives, with minimal use of industry jargon. Queue up an elevator pitch that can easily illustrate what your company does in one to two sentences. Break down explanations – even if the journalist has the press release or you think they’re familiar with the topic (simplified explanations will often make the best quotes.) And during the interview, do provide the reporter real-world examples or scenarios that allow them to “see” what you’re explaining. This could be a description of how a security threat halts operations of critical infrastructure that your solution can remediate, or depiction of video systems for sporting events that generate petabytes of data to be stored and secured by your platform. Bolstering your assertions with these kinds of descriptions will ultimately help reporters understand how your product or service will affect the lives of their readers.

They’re looking to build a relationship.
Business press reporters are bombarded with hundreds of pitches every day – the vast majority of which end up deleted because the PR professionals failed to do their due diligence ahead of time. Most pitches are untargeted and blasted out to hundreds of journalists all at once, with little knowledge about, or relevance to, the reporter’s audience. Instead, take the time to get to know a reporter by regularly reading and commenting on their stories, following them on Twitter and LinkedIN, and connecting at tradeshows and events (that’s where 10Fold shines). This up-front investment will soon pay off, even if a story isn’t generated from every interaction. By keeping up this steady cadence, reporters will eventually trust you enough to come to you for a comment or with a story idea. And those relationships are the ones that will last.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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Top Five Elements of a Good Contributed Article

Contributed articles are a by far one the handiest tools in the client’s arsenal. Among other things, they’re a way for clients to position themselves as industry experts and thought leaders, achieve credibility among peers, reach desired audiences and truly get their message across exactly the way they want.

These days, it’s becoming increasingly easier to get contributed articles placed – even in top tier publications. Major technology shifts in the media industry have driven numerous publications to cut costs by slashing reporting staffs, and force media outlets to do more with less. That means now more than ever, editors are relying on – and even soliciting – contributed content from industry experts to fill in the gaps.

For clients, it’s an enormous and growing opportunity. However, editors still have pretty tough editorial standards for the written material that appears on their pages. And no doubt competition for that real estate is only going to become more fierce between industry peers.

So what makes for a great contributed article – one that will stand out yet satisfy even the most scrutinizing of editors? Here are five top guidelines:

Keep it (Vendor) Neutral
This is usually a pre-requisite for any publication that accepts contributed content – largely because they cannot openly promote one vendor’s products or services above another. That means, depending on the publication, you might not be able to even mention your genre of technology, let alone your product.

That said, your article can speak volumes about your company, your vision and your position in the market without ever specifically mentioning a product or what you do. Contributed articles provide fertile ground to develop thought leadership, analyze trends or discuss relevant issues. If you have a next-generation security solution, talk about threats and new malware that your product addresses. Launching a networking product? Discuss the causes of latency and bottlenecks that are driving organizations to find new ways to accelerate productivity and avoid disruptions.

Being seen as industry experts and market leaders for your ideas will go a lot farther to raise awareness and establish credibility with desired audiences than openly promoting your product.

Take a Stand
It’s natural to err on the side of caution, especially when trying not to step on customers’ toes or say anything that could be deemed controversial. However, the most compelling and interesting content often takes a stand on a topic – even if it’s to assert why you think that subject is important.

For example, you might think that some industries are inherently bad about adhering to and enforcing compliance regulations. Or that the industry push for organizations to adopt AI and machine learning technologies lacks focus and direction. Good content also provokes discussion, even if it means that some might disagree.

And that’s a good thing. Industry thought leaders – by definition – incite new ways of thinking. They often defy convention. They introduce new ideas – many of which are rejected, resisted or haven’t even been considered. That is, until they become accepted.

So – as long as your assertions can be backed up with facts – don’t be afraid to be bold and take a few risks.

Put Ideas in a Broader Context
In your role as thought leader, you see the big picture. While talking about a new technology or concept can be exciting, both your audience and editors alike need to see what it will ultimately mean for them. A new ransomware attack? A perfect opportunity to discuss how cybercriminals are changing their tactics and how organizations need will need to change their defenses. New cloud storage technology? A great segue into how and why data storage capacities are changing and what organizations can do to rein in their data.

Placing new ideas into the context of a broader trend not only highlights your expertise, but it shows foresight and big-picture thinking, as well as your comprehensive understanding of the entire industry. And, of course, it goes a long way with editors.

Clean, Concise Writing is Key
With contributed articles, few things can compensate for good writing. If the most exciting and innovative technology concepts are poorly written, you’ll lose your audience (not to mention your editor if it even gets accepted in the first place).  Conversely, strong writing can compensate for topics that have the potential to be very dry or uninteresting.

Grammar and spelling, of course, need to be solid. However, strong pieces of writing also need to articulate concepts and ideas cleanly. Ideas need to be broken down and organized in way that is digestible to readers – especially if the article is technologically dense. Avoid clichés. And while use of industry terms is expected to some degree, try to use buzz words and jargon sparingly (really, a little goes a long way).

Create a Visual
Safe to say that many contributed articles contain a lot of concepts – some of which are pretty abstract.

With the exception of the most tech-savvy audiences, relying too heavily on abstractions without introducing a concrete use case will ultimately lose the very people you’re trying to reach. Good articles illustrate these concepts with a real-world visual. This could be as simple as writing an anecdote showcasing an adaptive marketing technology that tailors personal ads to you on airport billboards or a vulnerability in connected IoT home devices that people use every day.

In short, readers like to know how technology applies to them – how it makes their lives easier, better and more efficient. Because ultimately, that’s why they read.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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The First Rule of Gartner’s Cool Vendor is Not to Talk About Cool Vendor

It’s hip to be Cool. If there’s one thing all technology startups would love to get their mits on shortly after publicly launching their company, it’s a Gartner Cool Vendors recognition. Cool Vendors research examines disruptive vendors that help companies solve long-established problems and stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing world. Last year, Gartner profiled 330 Cool Vendors in 76 reports. Each report represents a unique market segment that they feel is worth watching. For example, a few of this year’s reports looked at digitization, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).

To be recognized, a cool vendor should be a small company/startup that offers a technology or service that is innovative, impactful and intriguing (i.e., has caught Gartner’s interest in the last six months). In my tenure at 10Fold, I’ve helped to get a couple of my clients be considered for a Cool Vendors award; TrapX and Veriflow and over the years, more than 50 10Fold clients were cool vendors.

Sounds easy, right? So, how do you get one?

It’s not as hard as you think, but there are a few steps and notes that I’ve shared below that will help you in your journey. This is a journey you need to get moving on NOW, because the first reports start to roll out around the April/May timeframe.

The first thing you should do is research previous Cool Vendors reports in the technology domain you’re currently competing in. If you can’t find an exact report match, it should be at least somewhat close technologically.

Next, research the analyst(s) who contributed to that report, because it’s likely that if they did a report on your market segment last year, there’s a good chance they’ll revisit it again this year (or at least slightly modify it to accommodate for market evolution). In some cases, you may find your technology is split across more than one Cool Vendors report and that’s okay. Make note of all the analysts in all of the reports you think you would qualify for. During your research, you’ll probably find a few of those analysts appearing in multiple Cool Vendors reports. Also, you should know that analysts do talk to each other when they’re hashing out who should go into which report.

Once you’ve identified the analyst(s) responsible for the Cool Vendors report(s) you think you’re a fit for, it’s time to get them up to speed on your company and its product(s). And this can be done through Gartner’s Vendor Briefings Request Page.

Note: From a timing perspective, once you submit a briefing request, it can take 2-3 days for the analyst to get back to you. And, if an analyst is interested in a briefing, they’ll typically schedule two to four weeks out from the initial request. Beware of trying to schedule multiple analysts at the same time for the same briefing. Trying to coordinate multiple analyst schedules is difficult and could push your proposed briefing dates out even further. We suggest briefing one at a time to start with. Briefings can be scheduled for 30 or 60 minutes. We recommend using the full 60 minutes to allow you ample time to get your story across.

After your briefing(s) are scheduled, it’s time to wow them with what you’ve got. In terms of what the analysts want to hear, be sure to include in your deck:

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Who you are

NO FOLD ICON 15x15What your company does why is it worth investigating

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 What services and products you offer

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Why customers buy your product or service

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 What business problems it solves

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 What differentiates your product from existing products and services

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Where you fit in the market relative to your top competitors

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 When you will complete your next important milestones (such as your go to market strategy, your product roadmap, etc.)

If you have a Gartner subscription, they do have PPT deck experts in house free of charge who will listen to your presentation and give you valuable feedback. If you’re not a Gartner subscriber, we recommend hiring a third-party company that specializes in corporate messaging. They’ll be able to help guide you in terms of story flow and the most important elements analysts will be looking for. For example, we have done that many, many times at 10Fold.

If possible, try to squeeze two vendor briefings out of each of your targeted analysts. The first one should be used for a company/product overview and the second should be reserved for a product demonstration (which can be done over WebEx or other screen sharing application). Because, for many analysts, seeing is believing.

For our last piece of advice…. Stay cool. When you do get the analyst on the phone DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask them what it takes to get a Cool Vendors award. This is absolutely forbidden. Doing so will not only turn the analyst off (it’s tantamount to grade grubbing), but they can actually remove your company entirely from Cool Vendors consideration. Good luck out there!

By Rick Popko

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The Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy – Three Paths to a Successful Internship at 10Fold

Have you ever wished for an Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy? Well, you’ve come to the right place. You will learn how to navigate your internship at a PR agency like 10Fold through the lens of the one and only Eric Bolin. Actually, there are a lot of Eric Bolins, but this dude works for 10Fold, so you’re stuck with this awesome guy.

Let Groot Grow
Anytime I step into an internship, my end goal is to learn. Instead of just bringing your bag of laptops, shrink rays, gravity guns, and highlighters, always prepare to soak in as much information as possible. Even with a little bit of an engineering background, I needed to learn acronyms and tech terminology that I had not encountered. Take the time to research your clients and their applications to the tech industry. Then, take a look at the 10Fold ship and observe the many tools available. Like any true venture through the galaxy, you will want to prepare to take on all the asteroids thrown at you with pre-“Cision” in a “TechCrunch” before you “Meltwater”. Ok, enough PR puns.

42 is Not the Answer to the Universe
Did you really think this was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? 42 is not the answer to anything. Yet, managing the 42 things you have to do for clients is the answer to one of agency life’s biggest challenges. When you master your time, then you will be able to rule the galaxy*. Before you start mulling over how you will rule your subjects… I mean manage your time, please note that there are many options for managing those 42 media lists and briefing sheets. You can use a planner, excel sheet, electronic calendar, or any other organization tool under the sun. Just make sure you organize everything and be prepared for the jump to light-speed. In an exhilaratingly fast environment, you will need to be flexible within your schedule. Most importantly, you should prioritize your deadlines and action list through daily updates and consultation with your manager.

Life, the Universe, and People
At the end of the day, remember to have fun and treat everyone with integrity. I have been impressed by the people that work here at 10Fold. My coworkers are part of the reason I come to the office every day. Supported by a great team of people, I always know they have my back. If you truly want to get the most out of your experience, then you should connect with the people around you. There is only so much time we have, so constantly worrying about the next client meeting or ten briefing docs you have to do will not help. Stay in the moment. Enjoy your coworkers and the environment you have at 10Fold because not many places and jobs will be like this.

There are many opportunities in the galaxy, but this experience will make you stronger by ten-fold. If you can strap yourself into hyper drive and enjoy the process of creating content, media lists, and briefing docs, then you will not only be a huge asset to the team, but your future will shine brightly.

*No refunds are given to galaxy travelers who follow this rule and fail to become said ruler of said galaxy.

By Eric Bolin

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Most Americans (Not Just Millennials) Get News From Social Media

Where do you find your news? From newspapers and radio, to smartphones and smart home devices – there are seemingly endless ways to stay in the know these days. As the news landscape continues to change, the primary way readers consume the news has evolved, too.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found two-thirds (67%) of Americans reported that they got at least some of their news on social media. For the first time, more than half (55%) of respondents ages 50 or older said they got their news on social media. Guess that means social media just isn’t for millenials anymore!

Let’s take a look what else we can learn from the Pew Research Center’s report, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017”:

Key Highlights From the Report
NO FOLD ICON 15x15
About one-in-four (26%) now get news from multiple social media sites

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 About three-quarters of minorities (74%t) get news on social media, up from 64% in 2016

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 More Americans now get news on multiple social media sites, as about one-quarter of all U.S. adults (26%) get news from two or more of these sites

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Twitter and LinkedIn have the majority of college graduate among their news users – 59% of LinkedIn’s news users and 45% of Twitter’s have college degrees

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Respondents under 50 years old still remain more likely than their elders to get news from social media (78% do, unchanged from the 2016 report)

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Snapchat has the youngest group of of news users, as 82% are ages 18-29

Which Social Media Platforms are Popular for News?
A whopping 45% of U.S. adults get news on Facebook, making it the leading social media site as a source of news. This is largely due to Facebook’s massive user base (66% of the population), compared with other social platforms.

Although more than half of Americans use YouTube (58% of the population), a smaller portion of the population consumes its news there. At second place – but still far behind Facebook – 18% of all Americans now get news on YouTube.

Despite the fact that news often hits Twitter first, only 11% of U.S. adults get news on the social platform. Almost three-fourths (74%) of Twitter users say they get their news on the site. Its audience is significantly smaller because only 15% of Americans use the site.

What Does This Mean for PR Pros?
PR professionals are accustomed to thinking outside of the box when it comes sharing news. With a strong social media strategy, a PR pro is used to sharing client and industry news across all platforms. It’s critical to make sure the news your sharing stand out among the clutter. More than 5 billion pieces of content is posted on Facebook every day, along with 500 million Tweets.

Don’t forget to think about how social users on mobile compared versus desktop. Pew previously reported that 85% of American adults got their news from mobile devices. Keeping your content concise and engaging will increase the chances of the user to return to your client’s feed for more news. If the post is too long to read on a smartphone, you’re likely to lose the user’s interest.

Traditional Media Still “In the Mix”
Now, don’t give up on pitching to traditional media yet. Just because more people are getting news on social media doesn’t mean traditional news is being ignored. Many social users also get their news from other platforms, although data shows there are some difference among users of the various platforms.

For example, Twitter users are more likely (55%) to also get their news on news website and apps, unlike Facebook (33%) or YouTube (44%) users. Facebook news users are more likely (33%) to get their news from local TV, compared to those on YouTube (25%), Twitter (21%) and Snapchat (22%).

What About “Fake News” on Social Media?
Americans are losing their confidence with traditional news, which may be why more people are going to Facebook for news. A 2017 Gallup poll found that 27% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in newspapers than did so last year (20%). The declining trust in mainstream media could be a consequence of fake news gaining more traction, especially on social media.

Fake news is defined as “news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false, and could mislead readers,” according to recent research from Stanford University. What sets fake news apart from propaganda is the speed in which is spreads and is replicated, as it is fueled by the use of social media.

Facebook is making strides toward fighting against fake news, but misinformation is still rampant on newsfeeds. As Americans stray away from traditional journalism, it’s crucial for social media users to learn how to spot fake or biased news, and to seek out information from an array of credible news sources.

Now that getting news on social media is more popular than ever, it’s time to start thinking of new ways to convey your client’s stories and ensure that it stands out among the noise. How do you plan on sharing their news? Let us know in the comments below.

By Katrina Cameron

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Who’s Afraid of the Dark (Social)?

“Dark social” – sounds dangerous, right? Although it may sound like a new hacking technique, it’s actually a recently developed term that refers to social media links that are shared outside of the social platform, which prevents tracking.  Meaning – you are getting shares that lead to website clicks – but you are in the dark as to where the traffic has come from.  For an official definition, Techopedia suggests:

“Dark social […] refers to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by Web analytics programs. This mostly occurs when a link is sent via online chat or email, rather than shared over a social media platform, from which referrals can be measured.”

Let’s Break This Down a Bit
So, essentially dark social refers to sharing social links that marketing analytics miss when people share content through private channels such as instant messaging programs (Skype, Join.me), messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack), and email (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc.). The ‘dark’ traffic originates from someone sharing a URL but is essentially “miss-marked” as direct traffic by marketing platforms and tools. Why does it matter? Direct traffic arrives at a site without a referrer and, of course doesn’t contain referrer data. This means that instead of going through a URL, the user directly types (or copies) the URL address into the search bar. As noted by Simply Measured:

“In the early days of the web, everything was link-based, so we either discovered something via search, via link, or we went to the site directly by typing it into the browser or via bookmark. […] if a site visitor arrived at the site without a referrer s/he had to be a direct visitor. But this is […] before the rise of mobile.”

Dig In: 3 Best Practices for B2B Social Media

Now with the help of private, mostly mobile, channels there are many new ways a visitor can arrive at a site without going to the site directly (for example, a colleague Slack messaging a recent industry announcement). “These methods don’t automatically attach any tracking tags unless the shared link was copied with the tag included (if you were to copy the URL of an article that I originally found on Twitter, including the UTM parameters attached to it)”, says Hootsuite. According to RadiumOne, dark social shares as a percent of on-site shares jumped from 69 to 84 percent globally over the last couple years. If you notice a large amount of traffic labeled ‘direct’ in Google Analytics, dark social may be the reason.  The problem is, of course, it’s hard (meaning:  nearly impossible) to replicate the techniques you used to get the “direct” traffic — so if 20 percent of your sales are coming from ‘direct’ there’s very little you can do to repeat that performance.

Now that we know what Dark Social is…how can you shine the light on the data?
If your day-to-day job includes publishing content online (marketer, social media manager, entrepreneur, content specialist or something similar), you want to know where your traffic is coming from. Encouraging social sharing is the primary goal of your efforts, and tracking how people (ideally prospects) are finding you matters more than ever.  Furthermore, understanding your audience and their sharing habits will significantly improve how you reach them in the future.

Dig In: Becoming an Industry Thought Leader

The good news? There are strategies that will help you qualify where website visitors came from.  Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Shortened URLs – use Bitly (also included in Hootsuite) which creates a unique link – averaging between 15-20 characters – with tracking capabilities
  2. Social share buttons
  3. Specific analytics tools (for example Simply Measured, Buffer, or Oktopost)
  4. Also, SearchEngineLand offers a straight forward formula for you to identify your estimated dark social traffic:

When properly mined, dark social data can provide the same interesting insights about your prospects that our clearly marked referring traffic provides.  It may take a bit of work, but it is definitely valuable to identify these visitors, and how you can use this information to further improve your social reach and create better connections with your audiences.

For more information about dark social and the latest and greatest in social media, watch this:

By Kyra Tillmans

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If You Are a B2B Tech Marketing Exec, Get Ready to Increase Content Production by 300%

Most Prospects Purchasing B2B Tech Do Their Research BEFORE They Talk to Any Vendors – Content is the Lynch Pin to Ignite Sales

10Fold recently commissioned a survey with Dimensional Research to better understand U.S. tech marketing executives’ plans for content as part of their marketing initiatives for the coming year. We uncovered five interesting trends – all that surprised us, and will definitely surprise you too!  In this first blog, we’ll be discussing the amount of content marketing execs have planned for the next 12 months.

First, a bit about our research.
Survey respondents included 172 U.S. technology marketing executives that had both budget and approval authority over content development. Vice Presidents of Marketing, CMOs, and CEOs all qualified as participants. Responses were evaluated as a whole and based on company revenues, vertical market focus, and headquarters location.

But, here’s the punch line.
Seventy-six percent of tech marketing executives expect to TRIPLE content production in the next 12 months. Let that sink in for a moment.

10Fold had a hunch that demand for content was increasing, but even we were surprised that these tech marketers were planning an increase of 300 percent. We think that it’s largely based on the pivotal role content is having in the B2B sales process.  A new report from Forrester suggests that prospects have completed more than 50 percent of their buying process BEFORE they ever speak with the vendors they are considering.

Dig In: Content is Still the King!

The line of site is pretty clear:  Companies need to produce more videos, blogs, and articles detailing customer successes, technology differentiation, and vendor stability so that when the research is complete their name ends up on the short list for that RFP.

But how are they going to produce all that content? Over 40 percent of our respondents claimed they plan to have at least a $250,000 budget dedicated to content next year and 90 percent suggest that will be an increase in budget.

 

One more thing: It’s not just the big companies that plan to spend on content – small companies also have aggressive plans to produce content.

For additional information about content quantities and budgeting, including budgets for small companies, check out our full report here. As we approach 2018 and begin to finalize marketing plan and budgets, consider taking your content marketing to the next level.

This blog is the first in the series, Content is Still King.

By Sarah Thorson

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