Should you blog during holidays?

Here’s a fun exercise to try that might save you some time this holiday season and for every holiday going forward. Should you blog, post social media updates, or be active online during holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, etc.?

There’s an easy, simple way to discern an answer. First, why are you active? Is it for your own creative outlet or mental discipline? If so, then carry on as normal, regardless of what time of year it is.

If it’s to drum up business, then go into a service like Google Trends. Let’s look at how this might work.

Google_Trends_-_Web_Search_interest__marketing_-_2008__2014_-_United_States

First, go to Google Trends and specify a comparison by time range (1).

Next, type in the most broad search term that your company can be found for, such as marketing, public relations, concrete, etc. (2)

Third, be sure to set geography so that you get results for the country or countries you operate in. (3)

Next, pick the general kind of audience that visits your website. For my blog, I set it to Business & Industrial > Advertising and Marketing, because that’s who tends to read this blog. (4)

Finally, pick the current year and a year six years in the past. Why? Because you want to match the day of week patterns. (5) If you’re looking at holiday traffic, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on a Thursday in 2014. The last year they fell on a Thursday was 2008, so in the example above, I added 2008 in for an apples to apples comparison. There are significant differences in traffic when you have mismatches in day of week, because behaviors change.

Think about it for a second – if a major holiday occurs on a Friday, people tend to take the day before off, but they’ll more likely than not work the first three days of the week. If a major holiday occurs on a Thursday, as it does this year, people take off Wednesday AND Friday, and in many cases just bag the entire week if they have the vacation time. Simply doing a year over year comparison will give you less of a true comparison, and since many websites don’t have 6 years’ worth of data, Google Trends provides a handy substitute.

Based on this chart, the answer is that if you’re looking for new business during the holiday seasons via your blog’s traffic or social media, there’s a good chance you’ll come up short. Pour the eggnog or the wassail, schedule what you can, but don’t stress about it too much – not many people will be knocking on your door in 2014!


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The hottest marketing job skills of 2015

LinkedIn recently published their data-mined list of the hottest individual job skills of 2014, based on recruiter interest and LinkedIn profile data. Here’s the raw list:

The_25_Hottest_Skills_That_Got_People_Hired_in_2014___Official_LinkedIn_Blog 2

Do you see a trend? I do. Let’s cluster them together by broad topic areas like marketing, data analysis, and technology skills:

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That’s impressive. Of the top 25 skills, only two are not in the buckets of marketing, data analysis, and technology – and they’re down at positions 15 and 17.

So these are the hot skills of 2014, of the year that was. If you wanted, as Wayne Gretzky would say, to skate where the puck is rather than where it was or where it is now, what would you pick as the top skills of the year ahead?

My recommendation is simple: combinations of these skills. Being proficient in one skill set is likely to get you a good job somewhere. Being proficient at two? That makes you nearly indispensable.

Suppose you had a background in statistical analysis and data mining, AND a background in network security. You could build and identify security problems just as they broke out and started trending, putting you far ahead of the pack.

Suppose you had a background in business intelligence and mobile development. You could engineer the next generation of business intelligence apps, the sort of apps that people would love to use.

Suppose you had a background in Perl/Python/Ruby and SEO/SEM. You could code infrastructures or make ridiculously sticky content because your content would be more interactive and more fun than the standard swill.

This is where the puck is going or could go, and these combinations of skills are what will differentiate the top performing employees from everyone else, make or break the next wave of startups, and redefine your business. Look for them, test for them, and grow them in your companies!

If you’re a marketer looking for the next big thing, the next big thing is you. Pick out a skill on this list that you don’t have and grow it alongside the marketing skills you already have. You’ll be virtually unstoppable.


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5 Breakout Marketing Trends for 2015

Times Square New Years Eve Ball

It’s that time of year again, time to make wild guesses about what’s to come in the year ahead. There are two general approaches folks use to predict the future. The first is the blatantly obvious; it’s been the year of mobile for about 3 years now. Content marketing is still pitched as a new thing, even though it’s as old as SEO.

So how do you find legitimate, new stuff to pay attention to? You look at the data! There are tons of data sources online that you can mine for breakouts, for things that have had sudden, unexplained upswings in popularity that stand out. Let’s take a look at 5 of them that I picked out using Google’s AdWords Traffic Estimator.

Green marketing

Green marketing, or greenwashing, is the bonding of your marketing to environmental causes. This can be as simple as making environmental statements about your products, or as complex as changing your entire business. Apple, for example, has been making strong pushes into green marketing in the manufacture of its technology. Some metals are no longer used. Many scraps in manufacturing get recycled.

How can you make use of environmental practices you already have in place? Can you change your business to be more green in a meaningful way?

Privacy marketing

Target. Sony. Michaels. St. Joseph Health System. These are just a handful of serious, significant data breaches in 2014. Combine that with increasing awareness of surveillance and targeted advertising, and it’s no wonder customers are thinking privacy. Privacy matters. Security matters. Giving consumers more control over their data and how you use it will be a differentiator and competitive advantage. At a minimum, it’ll put you ahead of inevitable government legislation about data practices.

Few things convey your legitimate care for the customer as well as how much control you give them over their data. How can you add that to your products, services, and marketing in the coming year?

Societal marketing

Traditionally, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a red-headed stepchild, often handed to the public relations team to handle. Societal marketing is marketing’s reclamation of this role, using modern marketing techniques and tactics. This past year saw the Ice Bucket Challenge as the most prominent example of societal marketing, a meme that spread like wildfire across the Internet.

It’s well past time for marketing and PR to sit down at the same table and figure out how to work together on the CSR role of your company or brand. How can you make your efforts more integrated, use more modern techniques, and measure results more effectively?

Mobile content marketing

It’s beyond obvious that mobile is a thing. It’s beyond obvious that content marketing is a thing. What’s not obvious yet, or not well defined, is what content marketing is working specifically on mobile devices. For the most part, marketers are approaching mobile content in the same way they approach traditional content. For example, an infographic renders differently on a mobile device than it does on a tablet or desktop. How would you change this to be something more mobile-friendly? Google did a great job of an interactive infographic in the form of their Primer app this year that showcases what’s possible.

How can you rethink and re-imagine your existing content marketing as content specifically for a mobile user? How can you port and translate from text and images to apps and video for mobile? Add these questions to your 2015 marketing thinking.

Marketing strategy

This last term surprised me in my analysis. Marketing strategy is as old as barking and busking in the town bazaar of millennia past. How is it breaking out as a search term in late 2014? The answer – I suspect – is the same reason as why I wrote Marketing White Belt. A lot of people have flooded into the marketing space in the past few years, armed with a handful of specialized tactics around social media or other digital niches, but with no marketing foundation. Now that they’ve been in practice for a little while, they’re realizing that their knowledge base has some serious gaps and are looking for strategies, frameworks, and roadmaps to better organize the tactical and technique-driven knowledge they have.

If your marketing meetings seem like you’re throwing things against a wall to see if anything resonates, then chances are you’re looking for some strategy. If you’re doing things without any sense of where you’re going or what synergies you should be looking for, then you’re probably looking for marketing strategy. As you roll into 2015, take some time to read up on strategy. If you need a starting place, start with any marketing MBA textbooks, or David Maister’s excellent Strategy and the Fat Smoker (Amazon affiliate link).

Conclusion

These 5 trends aren’t necessarily the most popular or the ones most talked about. That’s why they’re breakouts – in the data, they show anomalies, unusual and sustained changes in search volume in the last month or two that can’t be accounted for seasonally. Will they continue to be the hot thing? Time will tell, but they’re certainly worth thinking about.


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