Archive | December 2017

Google confirms mid-December search ranking algorithm updates

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Quote of the Day!

“Children think not of what is past, norwhat is to come, but enjoy the present time, which few of us do.”

JEAN de la BRUYERE.

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Facebook defends targeted ads that only show job openings to young people

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Over 36 years old and looking for a job? Sorry, grandpa!

A new report from ProPublica and the New York Times found that dozens of large corporations — including Verizon, Amazon, Target, Goldman Sachs, and Facebook itself — were using Facebook’s targeted ads to only show job opportunities to younger people.

Verizon, according to the report, was looking to hire people in financial planning and analysis. So it took out an ad on Facebook — and targeted people between the ages of 25 and 36 years old.

Sorry, Baby Boomers and Gen X, looks like you’re out of luck. Good thing there’s a safety net out there that Paul Ryan would never dream of cutting … oh, I see.

As ProPublica notes, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits bias against people 40 or older when hiring. There’s already been a class-action lawsuit filed in San Francisco against Facebook over the targeted ads.

Facebook acknowledged ProPublica had uncovered flaws in their ad system before — like the one that let advertisers target “Jew haters” — but defended itself over the age issue.

Sorry, Baby Boomers and Gen X, looks like you’re out of luck. 

“We know we have more work to do — as previous investigations by ProPublica have shown,” wrote Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of ads. “And we’re investing heavily in more people and better technology so that we constantly improve over time.”

“But in this case we disagree with ProPublica. Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work.”

A quick reminder: When Mark Zuckerberg was 22, he stressed that “young people are just smarter,” and implied that people under 30 make better employees.

Yep, nothing to worry about here. Just major corporations shunning potential employees with kids, health problems, and all the other troublesome things that stop you from working long hours for very little money.

Here’s a fun quote from a 58-year-old social media marketing strategist who talked to ProPublica about looking for work.

“Once you reach your 50s, you may as well be dead,” he said. “I’ve gone into interviews, with my head of gray hair and my receding hairline, and they know I’m dead.”

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4 things SEO professionals should do consistently

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How independent reviews influence Google’s trust in your brand

North Korea’s poverty is so dire that farmers reportedly steal each other’s feces to fertilize crops

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Boats full of dead people from North Korea keep showing up in Japan — here’s why

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: Ed Jones/ AFP/ Getty Images.
  • Dozens of ships containing dead bodies have washed up in Japan recently.
  • All the evidence indicates that the “ghost ships” are coming from North Korea.
  • It isn’t a new phenomenon, but is happening more and more often.
  • One expert told BI it could be because of food scarcity in North Korea.

Dozens of dead bodies have mysteriously washed up on Japan’s shores over the past few weeks – and all the evidence points to North Korea.

At least 40 corpses from around 15 boats have washed up along Japan’s west coast since November, according to figures from Japanese authorities and calculated by Business Insider.

The most recent discovery was made on Thursday, when authorities found two skeletons near an upturned boat near the western city of Oga, according to the Washington Post.

While Japanese authorities haven’t been able to definitively identify the origins of these “ghost ships” – vessels discovered with no living crew – multiple factors suggest that they are from North Korea.

One of the boats, found on the island of Sado around November 26 contained what appeared to be North Korean cigarette packets and jackets with Korean writing on them.

Two bodies recovered from another boat in Yamagata prefecture on Tuesday were also wearing pins showing the face of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo and the Associated Press.

Most of the discoveries have been gruesome: Japanese authorities reportedly found skulls and decaying corpses in multiple cases.

Not a new phenomenon

North Korean vessels have been showing up in Japan for years.

Eighty such ships drifted ashore in Japan in 2013, 65 in 2014, 45 in 2015, and 66 in 2016, said Satoru Miyamoto, a political science and economics professor at Japan’s Seigakuin University, citing Japan Coast Guard statistics.

But the trend appears to have worsened this year: at least 76 vessels have showed up on Japanese shores since the beginning of 2017, 28 of which in November alone, The New York Times reported.

So why is this happening?

Life in North Korea is “grim and desperate”

The rising number of ghost ships in Japan indicates the dire food insecurity facing North Korea, some experts say.

Professor Jeffrey Kingston, the director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan, told Business Insider: “The ghost ships are a barometer for the state of living conditions in North Korea – grim and desperate.

“They signal both desperation and the limits of ‘juche,’” he added, using the word for an ideology developed by Kim Il Sung, which justifies state policies despite famine and economic difficulties within the country.

To make matters worse, North Korea suffered a severe drought earlier this year, which dramatically damaged the country’s food production and will likely result in further food shortages,the United Nations said in July.

While the exact extent of crop damage remains unclear, the UN said the areas accounting for two-thirds of North Korea’s main cereal production had been severely affected.

Earlier this year, a North Korean soldier who was shot while defecting to the south was found with a large number of parasites in his stomach – suggestive of a widespread health crisis gripping the country, The Washington Post reported.

Seo Yu Suk, a research manager at the North Korean Studies Institution in Seoul, also told Reuters: “North Korea pushes so hard for its people to gather more fish so that they can make up their food shortages.”

Professor Kingston added: “These rickety vessels are unsuitable for the rough seas of the Sea of Japan in autumn, and one imagines that far more are capsizing that we will never know about.”

… Or are they a sign of a booming North Korean economy?

Not all agree with the above assessment, however.

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an editor at North Korean Economy Watch, told BI: “It’s unclear to what degree it’s directly related to food shortages per se.

Read more at https://www.businessinsider.com/ghost-ships-suspected-to-be-from-north-korea-showing-up-in-japan-2017-12#7dsVyQSQSI5BK3FI.99

“If fishers are ordered out for longer periods of time, with bigger demands on the catch they bring back – and with less gasoline with them than they need, due to the sanctions and shortages – that is certainly a connection of sorts.

“It is also possible that to make the same level of revenue through selling seafood domestically – which seems to be the best option given that they cannot export their products to China through formal ways due to current sanctions on seafood imports from North Korea – they would simply need to make bigger catches.”

The UN Security Council, of which China is a member, unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korean seafood and other commodities this August in response to two missile tests Pyongyang conducted the month before.

It’s unclear this point how much sanctions have affected the North Korean food situation or economy, however.

Katzeff Silberstein said: “Though the economy overall is under pressure from sanctions, food prices have not gone up to the degree that some may have expected, which suggests that there isn’t any acute scarcity as of now.

“On the other hand, there have been anecdotal reports of food scarcity increasing, particularly in the northeastern parts of the country, near the border to China, where agriculture is not at all as widely spread as in the southern regions.”

Miyamoto, the Seigakuin University professor, even said the rise in North Korean fishing vessels in Japan is indicative of a booming North Korean economy – because seafood is a luxury item.

He told BI: “Many North Korean vessels are in the Sea of Japan because North Korea has promoted fishery policy since 2013.

“They are fishermen [trying] to earn money. Now North Korean economics, which adopted free market partly, have grown, and generated a wealthy class. A wealthy class demands not caloric food, but healthy food. So seafood, which are healthy, is popular in North Korea. […]

“It is evidence not that the North Korean economy is deteriorating, but that the North Korean economy is growing… Hungry people demand not seafood which are low-calorie, but cereal and meat which are high-calorie.”

He also told CNN the “ghost ship” phenomenon increased “after Kim Jong Un decided to expand the fisheries industry as a way of increasing revenue for the military. They are using old boats manned by the military, by people who have no knowledge about fishing.

“It will continue.”

Japan’s response

The increased appearance of the vessels have reignited fears among some Japanese citizens who remain haunted by the spate of kidnappings that occurred along Japan’s west coast in the 1970s and 1980s.

When eight (living) men, claiming to be North Korean fishermen, turned up at the coastal city of Yurihonjo two weeks ago, local newspaper Akita Sakigake Shimpo ran the headline: “Are they North Korean spies?” (They are not, local police told The New York Times.)

Pyongyang’s nuclear development programme and recent missile tests have also increased Japanese suspicion toward North Korea.

Kingston, of Temple University, said: “Given recent missile and hydrogen bomb tests, public anxieties and anger towards North Korea has increased, so sympathy for the ghost ship crews has been limited.”
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5 Visual Content Tools to Boost Engagement

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Looking for tools to help?

A number of budget-friendly tools make it easy to create visual content that invites your social media audience to engage with it.

In this article you’ll discover five tools for creating visuals that engage your social community.

visual content tools to boost engagement

Discover five visual content tools to boost engagement.

#1: Quiz Your Followers

Apester is a digital storytelling platform that allows you to create and embed surveys, personality tests, video quizzes and polls into your social posts. The polls and quizzes alone can engage your community even if they’re not shared.

apester quiz

To increase engagement with your followers, create a poll and post it to your social channels.

The idea is to increase reader engagement, make stories more shareable and get people to take part in the conversation. At the same time, you’re collecting feedback that you can use to produce more relevant content in the future.

Apester has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create “personal interaction units.” When you embed these units in your content, you create a seamless user experience that gets your audience actively involved in the story.

apester quiz creation

Create surveys, personality tests and video quizzes with Apester.

The tool makes it easy to share your content on social networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit). When a user clicks on one of the share buttons, it creates a shared link directing users to your blog.

#2: Curate a One-Stop Content Trail

The average bounce rate on blogs for new visitors is 60.2%, and the average reader stays only 1 to 2 minutes on your website. One way to get people to really engage with your content is to use a tool like Roojoom, which is a content curation and creation platform.

Roojoom lets you collect content from your online and offline sources (such as your web pages, videos, PDFs and marketing materials) to create a content journey for readers. You then guide readers step by step through the journey, all from within one centralized place.

oreo's roojoom content journey

Create a Roojoom to aggregate content from web pages, videos, PDFs and more.

Readers can then share links to the Roojoom instead of to individual sources. They’re encouraged to interact with the content, and this keeps them reading the content until the end.

Once they’re hooked, most people will turn to social media and share links to the great content they discovered.

#3: Invite Community Collaboration on Maps

Visual tools that engage a community are pretty awesome, but tools that actively get users to take part are on a whole other level.

Dubbed a “community visualization platform,” you can use Mapme to let your community develop and add to existing maps you create around a specific topic, such as startups in San Francisco. In other words, they’re maps created by the people for the people.

mapme collaborative map

With Mapme, you create a map and then open it up to your followers to add locations of their own.

Mapme is a visual user-generated tool aimed at businesses and organizations. You’ll find a gallery of maps built with Mapme on the company’s website.

Once you’ve created a map based on a topic, you share it with your customers on social media, who can then get involved by adding new locations. It’s similar to Foursquare, but it’s not restricted to places of entertainment.

Each map can be customized by content, look or feel (such as a logo) and different categories. When you create a map, you fill in the activity on the map, and then open it up to public users of your site. There’s no better way to connect with your community than by getting them actively involved.

#4: Display Instagram Galleries

Instagram has claimed its throne as the king of engagement with over 300 million active monthly users who like about 2.5 billion photos and videos per day. But currently the only way to display Instagram photos on your website or blog is with a third-party widget.

SnapWidget is one of the most popular, visually appealing widgets, and more than 100,000 websites use it daily.

snapwidget instagram gallery

SnapWidget lets you display Instagram images on your website.

The tool offers both free and paid versions. The free version lets you pull the photos from an Instagram hashtag or account and display them on your blog. You can personalize the format, as well as the size, layout, colors and effects and choose whether the sharing buttons show up next to your photos.

The free version is ad-supported, so each thumbnail links to a page on SnapWidget.com where the photo is displayed with the site’s ads. The paid version offers extra features, such as more advanced customization options.

#5: Design Appealing Images

Content with visuals gets 94% more views than content without, and it’s much more likely to be shared on social media. That makes using images a no-brainer for marketers.

Pablo (as in Pablo Picasso) by Buffer is a free social media image creation tool. Choose from a wide array of stock images (or upload your own photos), add a text overlay and post the finished product to your social channels.

pablo image creation dashboard

Pablo makes it easy to create sharable, engaging images for your social channels.

You can create graphics with stats or facts, inspirational quotes, recipes or important announcements. Pablo is noted for its speed and easy-to-use filters and sizing options.

Conclusion

With the abundance of visual content tools out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding the right ones for your own marketing needs. Even if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to hire a full-time graphic designer, the easy-to-use tools covered in this article can help you create compelling visual content for your business.

There are loads of marketing tools for visual content creation, and these are just a taste of what’s out there. For any marketer or content creator looking to dabble in design and increase engagement, I’d recommend trying out one of these visual tools.

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6 Ideas to Kick Off the New Year with Your Business

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The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time for individuals to set resolutions for the year ahead, and there’s no reason that can’t apply to your business, as well. In fact, with the end of this year fast approaching, it may be a great opportunity to reflect on what went well — and what fell short of expectations — over the past 12 months.

Below, six entrepreneurs share their top tips on how to make the most of the turning of the calendar to ensure you’re optimizing your business in the year to come.

Align with your customers’ goals.

“Many of your customers are pursuing their own transformations through New Year’s resolutions, whether they intend to get in better shape or make more of their time,” says Ali Mahvan, CEO and co-founder of mobile shopping app Sharebert. To make sure your company is staying top of mind, think about aligning your marketing efforts with the goals your customers are pursuing.

“Try to align with your customers’ goals and aspirations rather than your own. Be the coach that helps them run that extra quarter mile or free up extra family time each week. Be a branded go-to part of their goals,” suggests Mahvan.

Analyze your vision statement.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to make sure your company is still working toward a vision that makes sense for where you are now. After all, a lot may have changed in the past 12 months.

“A vision statement is a rudder that holds the business on course. As we react to new situations, we can drift from that course,” says Vik Patel, CEO of VPS hosting service Future Hosting. “I like to reimagine the vision statement each year: Should it be changed in light of new realities? Were the decisions made in the last year in line with our greater goals? Taking the time to think about where we’ve been and where we want to go is hugely valuable.”

Update your visual presentation.

A new year could be the perfect time to introduce a new look to your branding. “As our business and clients evolve, so does our visual brand identity,” notes Kristin Marquet, founder and creative director of PR firm Creative Development Agency, LLC.

“We strive to update our brand colors, website, logo, voice and messaging across all client touch points every November and December,” she says. “If my team and I don’t update our visual presentation during the fourth quarter, then it’s safe to say it won’t get done at all, and the visual aesthetic will become outdated.”

Refresh your content marketing strategy.

Visuals might not be the only part of your strategy in need of a change. Syed Balkhi, founder of conversion optimization software OptinMonster, suggests using this time to consider whether you’re getting the most out of your content.

“The new year is a great time to take a look at your current content strategy and find opportunities for improvement,” Balkhi says. “Perhaps there are new keywords you’d like to rank for, or you want to increase your guest post contributions. Figure out which parts of your strategy produced the highest ROI the previous year and expand on those.”

Launch a contest.

The holidays are a great time to use promotions to get your customers excited about your brand, but the fun doesn’t have to end as soon as the gifts are unwrapped. “Before New Year’s hits, we launch a contest that lets our users vote on spaces found on our website,” says Jayna Cooke, CEO and partner at venue showcasing platform EVENTup.

“It’s a great way to get people to interact with our brand, and it gets our customers excited about potentially being named one of our top venues. We love this tradition because it’s beneficial to all parties and a fun way to kick off the year,” adds Cooke.

Make internal New Year’s resolutions.

You may be spending plenty of time revamping your company’s strategy for the year ahead, but don’t forget about the needs and goals of your individual employees.
“We do a huge annual meeting to discuss the previous year. Toward the end, we have everyone set three resolutions for themselves related to how they can be happier and do better work,” says Karl Kangur, founder and CEO of content marketing solution MRR Media. “We do a check-in in June and then analyze them a week before Christmas to see how everyone did. Fun, personalized prizes await the successful members.”

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How to Robot-Proof Your Job as a Content Creator

robot-proof-content-creationArtificial intelligence is all around us. As I shared in Content Creation Robots Are Here, billions of AI-created pieces of content are published yearly.

What does this mean for humans who create content? Are you in danger of losing a job?

Not quite. Despite the growth in artificial intelligence capabilities, the human content writer is needed more than ever.

Logical place for artificial intelligence in content

Robot content generation excels at drawing conclusions from large amounts of data, according to the Associated Press study The Future of Augmented Journalism: A Guide For Newsrooms in the Age of Smart Machines.

Robot content generation excels at drawing conclusions from large amounts of data via @AssociatedPress study. Click To TweetThat’s why, since 2014, the AP has used algorithms to produce automated quarterly earnings reports. These short, objective pieces may lack any creative storyline beyond the raw data they lay out, but they allow AP to cover 12 times more businesses than they could with human creation.

Each of these AI-generated examples follows the exact same style and format:

That’s one reason why the AP researchers conclude that machine learning will never replace journalists. But the researchers assert that AI can aid in the content-creation process and free human content creators to do “more complex and qualitative work.”

AI-aided content frees human content creators to do more complex & qualitative work, says @AssociatedPress. Click To TweetHere’s how the Associated Press envisions the inclusion of artificial intelligence in the reporting process:

Reporters may spend less time transcribing and manually poring over datasets and instead spend that time making calls and pursuing leads derived from an AI analysis.

ai-chain-of-command

Why humans are necessary to content creation (a terrible AI example)

Clearly, robots are up to certain data-oriented tasks. To see if topic-based content could be generated by a machine, I tested Articoolo, an AI content creator that says it can “create unique textual content in a flash.”

The terrible tagline “a quick, coherent starting point for your articles” wasn’t a good sign, but I gave it a try. I entered the subject “content promotion” and clicked the pencil button. It took two minutes to “cook” the content piece, then presented me with a paywall. I paid $1.90 for the piece, but handed over $19 to the AI site because I had to buy a minimum of 10 articles.

The result? Here’s the opening sentence:

Content promotion is a subject in the promotion universe relating to publishing important messaging to a specific audience white papers will be an example of this.

I ran it again, and received the most awkward-sounding content I ever read:

The problem does not put in their ambition to embark on content marketing strategy, the issues come from 3 common areas: the intricacy of the content advertising ecosystem, too little expertise or understanding with content marketing, as well as the technical measurement issues related to how audience consumes content across different devices today.

What?

I recently created a piece on content promotion, which took over three weeks of research and writing. Compare this excerpt from my blog to the Articoolo piece:

“The reality is writing great content alone won’t get you far.
Composing a high-quality piece and hitting “publish” just isn’t enough.
You have to help it along on its internet journey.
Hold its hand for a little bit. You have to guide it into the limelight, or, in some cases, shove it out there.
It’s the only way to ensure success – as opposed to publishing it on your site, crossing your fingers, and hoping against hope somebody will stumble across it and read it.
With solid promotion, you can help your blog reach great heights.
The only question left, of course, is this: “How do I promote my blog?” I’m here with tons of actionable tips to help you do just that.
Settle in with your cozy beverage of choice.
Ready? Let’s get knee-deep in great content promotion tactics.”

I went into 15 actionable tips, tricks, and strategies. But the key was how I crafted the blog opening with a story that resonated with my readers.

When I focus on writing an opener that gives a hook and is optimized for maximum creativity to hold the reader’s attention, the post usually receives 100% more shares than the average post on the site. This one received over 200 shares within a few hours of going live.

how-do-i-promote-my-blog

 

Why thought leadership demands human creators

Content marketers appreciate the need to build a connection with their audiences and that frequently requires emotional, subjective, and reader-centric content created with thought, care, and immense creativity.

Content written by thought leaders has the power to influence followings and even create waves in the industry with powerful effects.

Content written by thought leaders has the power to create waves in the industry. @juliaemccoy Click To TweetHere’s an example from an article by Copyblogger founder Brian Clark called The Writer Runs This Show:

the-writer-runs-the-show

This pithy, poetic piece earned more than 700 shares and generated 83 comments.

I took inspiration from Brian to create a piece for my own marketing called Dear Return Clients: Here’s Why We Can’t Accommodate Your Old Rates. Posted on my blog, this letter explained to clients who didn’t see our growth and quality increases as transparently as we did, why we (successfully) increased our rates.

Brian’s writing was eloquent and emotion-stirring. But the know-like-and-trust factor, down to the familiar smile in his headshot, is a big reason behind the success of his and other influencers’ content. Readers recognize and relate to the influencer.

While a bot may be able to help an influential content creator, it’s unlikely to replace great writing skills coupled with a familiar human face.

Why human-created content is an opportunity

To stand out in a world of “content shock,” as Mark Schaefer describes it, human-based content is essential. In just 60 seconds, over 3.3 million Facebook posts go out, over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, and over 1,440 posts are published in WordPress.

With those insane numbers, content marketers always must ask, “Why should my audience click on and read this content? What will make someone click, convert, and become a loyal, avid fan?”

Valuable advice. A friendly voice. Useful content. A relevant viewpoint. Engaging writing. Happy stories. Relatable stories. Inspiring stories. Motivating stories.

Studies, including one done by Motista, show the direct correlation between emotional connection and customer purchase spend. The higher the emotional connection, the higher the spend.

The higher the emotional connection, the higher the spend via @Motista study. Click To Tweetmotista-correlation-emotion-spend

JP Morgan Chase’s sponsored content in theSkimm is an example of an emotionally charged content campaign that brought huge results. Reaching the curated news email’s millennial audience, JP Morgan Chase used creative, catchy wording, emojis, and fun headlines and taglines such as:

  • You probably think this song is about you.
  • There’s something happening here.
  • I want you to want me.

Credit card use among the target audience group increased by 70%, and new account growth rose by 40%.

The emotions behind the click and the connect are the same as those behind a person-to-person relationship.

Storytelling in content marketing gives the user an “experience.” It’s in our nature to listen to stories, and be influenced to trust – or distrust – because of a story we were told. And those stories must be human – written by a human, for a human. Humans are the only way to bring the human element into the story.

Humans are the only way to bring the human element into the story, says @JuliaEMcCoy. Click To TweetIn The Psychology of Storytelling, Gregory Ciotti, strategist at Help Scout, says:

It seems that we can conclusively say that the human mind is able to relate to and absorb stories much better if there is a ‘human’ element in the story that is easy for the audience to imagine.

How to robot-proof your content

Peter Kafka, reporter and author of Now This Is a Content Mill: Narrative Science Raises $6 Million for Human-Free Stories, says it well:

The trick for content makers like myself is to find work that only content makers like myself can do – work where human qualities like experience, judgment, and creativity get rewarded. And if we can’t do that, we ought to be doing something else, anyway.

Create content that solves your direct (human) readers’ problem. Anticipate their next steps. Let them know and feel you’re there with them.

Here are a few ways you can do that.

Opt for creativity, not just SEO

Quit focusing on the keyword and write for the person. For example, if you’re a writer and your longtail keyword is “how to write a blog,” interview two to three clients on their biggest questions on blogging. Post a poll to a Facebook group or on Twitter. Use the potential audience’s input to craft the blog – to answer their questions – and send it to them once it’s posted. In your human-created piece, you will have engaged content collaborators and readers to address your human audience’s biggest questions.

Include audience experiences in your content

Look for and involve your customers’ experiences. Mine live-chat history and support requests and study the wording, questions, and content your clients write and send to you. What are their common problems? What are their biggest questions? What language do they use when they explain their problem?

Focus on one problem your clients face, and open your article with that. Write a scenario. Then, answer it. Think about those real people while you write, and think about writing in their voices. Creating a buyer or audience persona could help you identify, for example, their age group and subsequently the content voice. Millennials, for example, might open your emails more often if the headline includes emojis (according to a Harris Poll survey, they communicate more through emojis and GIFs than words).

Millennials communicate more through emojis and GIFS than words via @HarrisPoll @gifkeyboard.‏ Click To Tweet

Don’t forget ‘the feels’

Remember, emotional connection has a direct correlation to higher sales numbers. Think about how your stories can generate an emotional connection with your audience. Be creative and unexpected. For example, check out the description of Death Wish Coffee’s audience-focused, ongoing podcast Fueled by Death Cast:

We are all Fueled By Death – the idea that we do whatever we can to leave our mark on this world before we inevitably leave it for good.

fueled-by-death-cast

Conclusion

Bottom line: If you want to outperform the robots, it’s time to go beyond a just-the-facts approach in your content.

It’s time to have a creative, authentic, and real voice.

Create content for your human reader.

Be human.

And if you strive for the human connection every time, you’ll never risk losing your place to a bot.

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