12 Ways to Boost Your Visual Media Performance

Tenacity5 Media released a new eBook this morning, Visual Media: The New Content Marketing Landscape. My colleague Erin Feldman is the primary author with a co-author credit to me. You can download it for free with no requirement to provide any personal information.

The eBook discusses the visual media era as whole, then seeks to help marketers adapt best practices. Generally, there is one overarching rule: Go mobile or perish. While the desktop is still used, its use is limited to particular tasks. To reach more people, think mobile first, desktop second.

Included in the paper are 12 tips for best practices across a variety of media types and social networks. You can see them in the above slideshare or simply scroll below.

1) Media


Traditional media is not dead, but it does need to be supplemented with digital assets. Engage journalists by augmenting pitches with photos, videos and other visual resources.

2) Social TV


Social TV is not synonymous with newsjacking, but the tactic is relevant, particularly when capitalizing on the social furor surrounding live events such as sporting ones or the Grammy’s. Follow current events and programs, then share timely brand-related updates and images.

3) YouTube


YouTube isn’t replacing traditional TV viewing, but it is being consumed in larger and larger numbers. Brands seeking to create a YouTube presence need to think unique content rather than copy what they do on more traditional video platforms.
Aim to create high-quality, engaging content rather than just another television ad.

4) Pinterest

Pinterest offers a captive, active audience. Tap into their interests by sharing images that they’ll love to “like” and re-pin. Pin images that depict your brand’s story and character.

5) Instagram

Instagram is ideal for user generated content (UGC). Give your audience a chance to tell the story, and they typically will. Grow your Instagram community by asking them to share photos of your product in action.

6) Facebook


Facebook is alive and well, but it’s increasingly visual. Ensure your placement in your fans’ news feeds by tapping into their visual interests. For increased Facebook engagement, post multiple photos rather than a single one.

7) Twitter


Twitter has gone the way of visuals, too. Make sure your work is noticed by using Twitter Cards to feature images and other information, such as a sign-up form.
Use Twitter Cards to feature full-sized images in the news stream.

8) SlideShare


SlideShare is not an online PowerPoint presentation. Other content can be uploaded to the site. In addition, it features robust search optimization capabilities. The presentation’s important, but don’t forget to optimize for search.

9) LinkedIn


LinkedIn is visual, too. Present your company’s story and standout from your competition with Showcase Pages.

10) Flickr


Flickr may be popular because of its storage and archiving possibilities, but the site gets plenty of traffic from people seeking licensed images for their own work. Capitalize on their needs by licensing your work. To increase awareness, license your photos so that people can share and use them.



Vine is home to short video, so it’s not the place to tell your brand’s life story. Aim for sharing highlights and personality. Use your six seconds to let your brand’s personality shine.

12) Non-Traditional Conferences

Nontraditional conferences are the way of the future. Blend your traditional event with digital for an increased return on investment. Use visual and digital media to generate stories before, during, and after an event.

Download Visual Media: The New Content Marketing Landscape for free with no requirement to provide any personal information.

Want more? Read 7 Signs of the Post Social Media Era.

Breaking Up Google

It may be time to break Google up. At a minimum, the Justice Department should consider taking up antitrust action against Google again.

The search monopoly impacts almost every part of the Internet, from content creation to email to data collection. Every small change it makes creates far-reaching ripples.

Google takes these actions to drive revenue for its advertising products. Revenue is derived from a wide array of advertising properties, including search, YouTube, ads in products like Gmail, and the far reaching AdWords network.

So what’s the hubbub about? Consider how the company uses data sourced from Google+, Android phones, Chrome browsers, organic searches and soon its sensors (via the Nest acquisition) to customize ads. Contextual and creepy at the same time, Google uses all of the data collected from products to serve the ad beast, which in turn suggests products from paying partners.

In doing so, Google pushes the boundaries of fair data use. Further, whenever it alters its search algorithms, Google creates tidal waves across the media industry, and impacts every single business with an Internet presence. Because of Google’s size, every business owner and media publisher must at a minimum pay attention to these changes, if not yield to them.

Google, The Data Bully

Google Searching
Image by Charles Ovens

Consider how Google pressures sites and companies to provide their data for free. When content owners and publishers say no, Google often replicates the data or it launches a competive product to replicate the creation of that data. This basically tells every data owner to you open their database to Google, or face competition from the Silicon Valley giant. Don’t be evil, indeed.

In many ways, Google’s creation of Google+ sought to replace paid access to Twitter and other social network sites that bar public search crawls. By making Google+ and Google Authorship components of its search algorithm, Google forced Plus upon content publishers and website owners. As a result, Google+ is actively marketed by millions of websites across the globe.

What would happen if the Justice Department acted and demanded that Google pay its competitors, and that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn social data received equal weight in Google searches?

I’ll tell you what. Most content publishers would stop trying to make Google+ work. A vast majority of those G+ social buttons across the social web would disappear like outdoor Christmas lights retired in the midst of January.

Google+ would collapse. And maybe it should.

In its quest to ensure data quality and drive more revenue, Google consistantly pushes the boundaries of privacy. The list of privacy violations is significant (scroll to the end of this Huffington Post piece). You have to wonder what’s going to happen with data from Glass and Nest.

The search algorithm changes impact every media and business across the world with an Internet presence. You can see the panicked Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda update posts that dominated the marketing and publishing interwebs over the past two years.

Last year Google deployed filtered emails based on keywords and data to create a less spammy email experience. Even Gmail filter changes impacted millions of people and businesses alike. I wonder how many companies have to pay to have their products seen in email ads now? Personally, I’ve had a few emails unnecessarily buried by the new tabs.

With many of these actions, Google forces content creators and site publishers to choose between SEO and smart business. Consider the placement of no follow links in press releases and now guest blogs. Now you can’t transfer Google juice in what should be common sense business activities.

I value organic growth by attracting people to my site more than I care about search algorithms. So I tend to ignore some of the finer points (keyword placement, no follow links on guest blogs I accept, etc.) in favor of a good read, but Google’s changes make me consider each tactic.

Case in Point: Guest Blogs are More than SEO


I read Google Web Spam Leader Matt Cutt‘s arguments last week to eliminate guest blog links from Google’s search algorithm. While I am certain Google sees more blog spam than the average person does, the recommendation to cease guest blogging is a flawed one.

In particular these statements were erroneous: “Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”

Though Matt reversed his statement a bit with an amended title and a footnote at the end, this needs to be said loud and clear: Guest blogging is more than SEO.

Guest blogging is an attempt to introduce yourself (or a brand) and garner credibility with new audiences, the virtual road show if you would. In trade, you provide quality content. Even a respected author understands that.

Let me give you some examples:

I wrote a novel call Exodus last year that’s still realtively new. So I guest blogged last Wednesday on To Read, or Not to Read about the possibility of technology destroying us. It was a fun post that delved into post-apocalyptic narration and world building as storytelling devices. It also introduced the book to new audiences.

Then last Thursday I blogged about the coming Zombie Content Apocalypse on Copyblogger. Copyblogger is one of the top blogs in my business. It is always a great opportunity to offer a guest by-line there.

In both cases I delivered unique content to the sites. I believe the original content was useful and interesting to those communities. As a result, I gained a few new followers and contacts from these efforts.

If you told me I would be penalized by Google before I drafted the posts, it wouldn’t have stopped me. Guest blogs and articles remain a strong tactic. That is true with or without Google’s blessing.

This type of situation seems to happen with Google monthly, if not more frequently. And that is the problem with the Internet giant. Small moves create massive waves when you have all the power.

Google Is Threesome


So how should Google be broken up? Personally, I think Google should be broken up into three companies to create a fairer Internet ecosystem.

The first is the search engine itself as a stand-alone product. When tied to other content elements on the Internet, Google search achieves insurmountable economies of scale. Google tends to leverage search, its various sepearate content mechanisms, and its software (Chrome and Android) for unfair advantages, most notably data mining and the weighting of Google+ in its search algorithm.

The second company would be software products, from Gmail to Android. Also included in this second company would be YouTube, Chrome, Feedburner, and other application elements. In many ways, search is search, and company x is content. We will call this company Google2.

Google3 would be comprised of the hardware companies. Glass, Motorola and Nest would be form Google3. Why seperate these companies from the group? Google clearly uses data to its advantage. Creating and acquiring new devices to capture data seems to be an evolving pattern here, and one that leads to a slippery slope. Separation creates a forced check and balance.

So there you have it, my vision for a safer Internet sans the Google Empire. Much like AT&T, the Baby Bells, and Lucent Technologies in the post telecom divestiture era, the three Google companies would all be very powerful in their own right.

Google Pays to Avoid Trust Busting


Like other big business lobbies, Google will likely avoid action or penalities for leveraging all of its business powers. Google pays to make sure its agenda is at the forefront of DC legislators’ and administrators’ minds. There are too many dollars at stake.

Washington, DC is a town built on special interest dollars. We all know this; the money involved is a central problem in today’s political gridlock.

Google was the largest tech lobbying company in DC in 2013 with $14 million spent. Ironically, this is a significant decrease over the prior year when Google faced antitrust action.

Though Google may be too powerful, it would take significant public outcry for Washington to act. Google knows the game and plays the system on every corner. We will have to continue dealing with Google’s data manipulation and Internet tactics.

It could be worse. While often overbearing in its moves, at least Google realizes that it can only grow by committing to better search, less spam, and useful information and data products. While I advocate for Google’s breakup, I’d much rather see this management team operating with these economies of scale as opposed to Facebook’s executives. That would be dangerous indeed.

What do you think? Should the government break Google up? Is the company too powerful?

Featured image via The Digital Reader. Capitol Building photo taken by me.

Instagram Video Highlights YouTube Weaknesses

YouTube may have the most to lose from Facebook’s response to Vine, 15 second format videos on Instagram.

Normally, I don’t blog about the day-to-day battle between socnets. The evolution is tiresome, and is best covered by trade pubs/blogs with reporter teams. However, in this case there are several macro trends in play that have not been well discussed.

The following issues spell trouble for YouTube (and Google as a whole):
Continue reading

New Flickr Brings Questions about the Visual Media Era

New Flickr Interface image via Geeky Gadgets

Flickr will unveil its much-needed new interface today, revamping one of the oldest and still prescient social networks. This significant change comes to a network that features more than 3.5 million photos uploaded everyday, and one of the most popular APIs on the Internet. Flickr’s new interface seeks to make the network relevant to smartphone and tablet users.

As a long term power user on Flickr with more than 4000 photos and 325,000 photo views on my photo blog, I welcome this change. It’s refreshing, and makes the most powerful network for sharing videos not only stronger, but more attractive, too.

For a long time, Flickr’s primary value to me was housing images in a very accessible Creative Commons library. This allowed widespread dissemination of images in a host of online journals, blogs, and in some cases traditional media. Now Flickr could become more than that, competing with personal photo network favorite Instagram for commenting and interacting with other photographers and visually oriented minds.

Invariably, those that don’t understand the difference between a content publishing-based social network and a bookmarking-based network will compare the new Flickr to Pinterest. Ironic, as Flickr just incorporated Pinterest’s opt-out code for photographers who don’t want their original content repinned without credit or payment. In reality, Instagram and Tumblr are much closer competitors because the users are primarily content creators.
Continue reading

Bashing Google+: Fashionable, but not Smart

Pinata time
Image by Monkey at Large

Many social media wonks bash Google+ at social media conferences and in online conversations. Doubting the new social network is the fashionable thing to do. Yet you have to wonder if this absolute negative view is professionally smart.

While the network has not surpassed Facebook and to date lacks the business impact of established networks Twitter and LinkedIn, it has developed its own community. Engagement waned after a stellar launch, but new voices continue to join Google+ and more of Google’s core applications have been integrated into the network. As a result, traffic has increased. AddThis recently reported that Google+ had its third highest in bound traffic week to date.

Google continues integrating its entire ecosystem into the + social network, and the biggest social chip is being added to the mix — YouTube. As YouTube (and Chrome) become more integrated, Google+ will only gather further steam.

Keep in mind, my attitude about Google+ has been conservative with a wait and see approach. As time has continued doubt remains, but Google+ is consistently a top 10 referrer to my blog. In general, because of the larger ecosystem, the smart thing to do is to begin engaging mostly because of search benefits, and to protect brand reputation.

Regardless of pros or cons, a professional’s job is to view Google+ with an analytical eye. Otherwise, it is hard to provide objective counsel.

History Shows Google+ Won’t Beat Facebook

Much of the Google+ negativity finds its basis in the over exuberance of some social media experts who initially lauded Google+ as the great Facebook killer. But marketing history shows that it is almost impossible to unseat an entrenched market leader like Facebook head-to-head.

When competing against a dominant leader with no major differences in technology, distribution or product, most companies cannot win. Avis’s “We Try Harder” positioning against Hertz rental cars was an acknowledgement that it could not escape second in the marketplace.

Ironically, Google is one of those rare companies who has knocked out a market leader. In the 1990s Yahoo! had a lock in the search marketplace. But in 2000 it lost its lead to Google, which won the market with its unique search algorithm.

Yet Google’s success over Yahoo was due to an improvement in technology. Without some sort of major game changing technology or major collapse on Facebook’s part, Google+ will likely end up competing for second place in traffic and page views against Twitter and LinkedIn.

Book Excerpt: The Death of Facebook

PastedGraphic 1

The following is an excerpt from Welcome to the Fifth Estate, Chapter 7: Sustaining Your Community Over Time

Who in their right mind would predict the death of Facebook, given its ever-increasing dominance? But everyone always asks, “What’s next?”

One thing long-term Internet citizens have seen over the past 30 years: Communities and social networks get large, even as dominant as Facebook now is, and then they fade.

Some stay relevant as leaders in their niches — YouTube, for example — and others drop into a second tier, or worse. Friendster, MySpace and AOL exist in some form to this day, but none of them enjoys the leadership positions and mindshare of their heyday.

One of the secrets to Facebook’s longevity is its replication of the McDonald’s business model. McDonald’s offers a cheap menu of foods and beverages that contemporary society demands. If a customer wants a latte, they can go to McDonald’s. Ice cream? McDonald’s offers soft serve. Salad? No problem! And McDonald’s still offers the now classic Big Mac, just in case someone wants a burger.

Facebook does the same with its social network functionality. It literally watches competitors create new features, and then it incorporates those functionalities into its network, competing head-to-head in that functional space. Facebook relies on its incredibly large user base to accept and use the new features. We saw this with Facebook Places and the competition it offers Foursquare. Other examples include:

  • Facebook Pictures competes with Flickr
  • Facebook Video competes with YouTube (this feature does as well as a McRib sandwich on market share)
  • Facebook Chat competes with AOL’s AIM
  • Facebook Questions and Groups compete with LinkedIn Questions and Groups

One could argue that the strength of this business model is also Facebook’s weakness. As we have seen over time, Facebook constantly updates its interface to incorporate these changes. This is relatively easy because of its text-based, three-column layout. While text allows Facebook to offer all of these features, the user interface has become clunky and cumbersome. In essence, being the McDonald’s of social networks has forced it into an over-reliance on text.

If a competing technology arose that provided a new interface, an almost completely visual tactile (touch) input to a social application, then Facebook would be challenged to completely redesign its web site. Several new apps on iPad have shown a new way to interact. Early signs show these applications are becoming immensely popular.

One iPad application, Flipboard, allows users to create their own magazines based on preferences and socially recommended content. ABC’s popular iPad app features a visual globe of news stories. Both application interfaces rely heavily on pictures with very few words, and why shouldn’t they, given that a picture is worth a thousand words?

It’s only a question of time—maybe even within the next two years—before a primarily visual-interface-based social network launches. Processing time, software development and bandwidth inevitably will increase to enable it. How will Facebook upgrade its interface to compete with this kind of innovation?

It would take an almost complete gutting of its social networking code. Facebook’s system has become so clunky that Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg can’t make changes that he wants to in order to open the network.Plus Facebook’s original feature of private, closed social networking was its big differentiator. The privacy tension caused by the movement toward openness continues to haunt Facebook.

Such a network upgrade likely would force Facebook to abandon users who are still text-based. It would be very hard for McDonald’s to keep serving Big Macs while offering a tastier Filet Mignon sandwich that holds market share (Angus Wraps aside). If you think Facebook cannot unseated,or it will not be by a tactile-input-based network, what about a video- based network? Bandwidth and technology permitting, how about Third Life, a better version of Second Life’s would-be virtual-avatar-based world, where interaction would occur in a computer-generated 3-D environment? Or a video-based network like, but more nimble than, the original Seesmic?

Isn’t it just a question of time before Facebook meets a competitor with a better, next-generation interface that it can’t match? Yes given the context of Internet history and technology development.

If a better, easier choice becomes available, you can expect people to spend more time on it than on Facebook. The Fifth Estate moves with what’s hot, and without thinking about the historical value of today’s technology platform of choice.

Business leaders and strategists cannot afford to become too entrenched on a mega social network like Facebook or Twitter. If an organization cannot move with its community because of an over-investment in one network, it loses the opportunity to serve stakeholders effectively.

# # #

The source material for this section of the Fifth Estate was originally published on this blog under the same title.