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LinkedIn’s Career Explorer helps you identify new kinds of jobs based on the skills you have

October 29, 2020 No Comments

One of the key side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been how it has played out in the economy. There are currently 12.6 million people out of work in the U.S. alone, with estimates from the International Labour Organization noting that globally number some 245 million full-time jobs have been impacted.

To meet some of that challenge, today, LinkedIn is launching a new Career Explorer tool to help people find new jobs. Out in beta today in English (and adding further languages soon), this is not another job search engine. It’s a tool that matches a person’s skills with jobs that she or he might not have otherwise considered, and then provides pointers on what extra skills you might want to learn to be even more relevant.

Alongside this, LinkedIn is launching a new skills portal specifically to hone digital skills; subtle profile picture “frames” to indicate when you’re looking for work, or when you are hiring; and interview prep tools.

The Career Explorer tool is perhaps the most interesting of the new features.

Built with flexibility in mind, LinkedIn is leaning on its own trove of data to map some career paths that people have taken, combining that with data it has on jobs that are currently in higher demand, and are extrapolating that to help people get more creative about jobs they could go for.

This would be especially useful if there are none in their current field, or if they are considering using the opportunity of a job loss to rethink what they are doing (if Covid-19 hasn’t done the rethinking for them).

The example that LinkedIn gives for how this works is a notable one. It notes that a food server and a customer service specialist (an in-demand job) have a 71% skills overlap.

Neither might be strictly considered a “knowledge worker” (interesting that LinkedIn is positioning itself in that way, as it’s been a tool largely dominated by the category up to now), but both interface with customers. LinkedIn uses the Explorer to then suggest what training you could undertake (on its platform) to learn or improve the skills you might not already have.

The Career Explorer is a development on the skills assessment tool that LinkedIn launched last year, which were tests that people could take to verify what skills they had and what skills they still needed to learn for a particular role.

In the midst of a pandemic, that effort took on a more pointed recovery role, with skills training developed in partnership with Microsoft (which owns LinkedIn) specifically to address digital gaps in the employment market, which when filled could help the economy rebuild. LinkedIn said that to date, around 13 million people have used the those tools to learn new skills for the most in-demand jobs.

The idea with these new tools is that while people may be losing their jobs, there is still work out there. LinkedIn itself says it has more than 14 million positions open right now, with close to 40 million people coming to the site to search for work every week, and three people getting hired each minute. So the aim is to figure out how best to connect people with the opportunities around them.

And given that LinkedIn, now with 722 million users, has long made recruitment and job searches a central part of its business — both in terms of traffic and in terms of the revenue it makes from those services; I often think of it as the place where professionals go to network and look for work — launching these tools not only can help LinkedIn be a more useful partner in the job-search process. It helps keep that jobs business evolving at a time when it otherwise might feel somewhat stagnant. And after all, despite the activity on LinkedIn, unemployment remains high and some believe will get worse before it gets better again.


Social – TechCrunch


Upstream aims to be the new home for your professional social life

October 27, 2020 No Comments

Last fall, social analytics startup SocialRank sold its product and business to Trufan, allowing the team to focus on something new: a professional social network. Today, they’re officially unveiling Upstream to the public.

To be clear, CEO Alex Taub told me that he’s not trying to replace LinkedIn — he acknowledged that thanks to network effects,”If you want to go and try to take down LinkedIn, you’re not going to be able to take them down.”

Instead, the goal is to create something that fulfills a different need. Where LinkedIn works primarily as an online résumé and rolodex, Upstream aims to help users build the connections and relationships that are important to their careers — something that’s sorely needed at a time when large-scale meetups and conferences aren’t really possible (though we’re certainly trying to create the virtual equivalent at TechCrunch).

“This is the place for your professional social life,” Taub said.

Upstream’s first product focused on professional groups and communities, allowing users to post what the company called Professional Asks, like if they’re looking to hire someone for a certain position or need an introduction at another company.

Taub suggested that things really took off with Upstream’s next product, Upstream Events, where Upstream would host a guest speaker, then attendees were matched up for five-minute, one-on-one video chats with the other people at the event.

Upstream

Image Credits: Upstream

Upstream says it’s already hosted more than 100 events, with 72% of people who who attend one event subsequently attending another.

While the team has built multiple products, today is the first time it’s talking publicly about the product and vision. And it’s launching some new features at the same time.

For one thing, while communities were previously shared via a private, unlisted link, you can now browse all the different communities in a Discovery section. At the same time, community organizers will be still be able to control who joins by approving or rejecting new members.

There’s also a new spin on Events called Office Hours, allowing users to set aside structured time for virtual one-on-one sessions with anyone who’s interested in speaking to them. These sessions can be listed publicly, or they can be unlisted, so that you only share them via email or within a certain community.

Upstream screenshot

Image Credits: Upstream

In a blog post, Taub noted that he met his SocialRank/Upstream co-founder and CTO Michael Schonfeld via Ohours.org, and they’re trying to replicate that experience here:

Let’s say you are the CMO of a large company and you want to give your people the opportunity to meet 1:1. The thought of coordinating the individual scheduling of ten minute blocks using your Outlook calendar and email is not attractive. But with Upstream, you are able to choose the 30min block you want to offer and how long you want the sessions to be. You decide you want to run your office hours every other Friday at 2pm ET for the rest of the year. The event is built and able to be shared seamlessly to whoever you choose to offer the Office Hours to.

In fact, Taub’s post lists more than 30 different people who are already offering office hours on Upstream, including New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, Foursquare co-founder/Expa partner Naveen Selvadurai and Amazon Photo Head of Product Nate Westheiemer.

Upstream is also announcing that it has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from 8-Bit Capital, Human Ventures, Basement Fund, NYVP and various angel investors.

Looking ahead, Taub said that the next big priority is launching a web version of Upstream (which is currently available via mobile app), and to continue building live experiences, asynchronous experiences and features that provide real utility.

“We imagine a future when professionals come to Upstream for an event or Ask, and stay for the compelling opportunities that make Upstream an energizing and beneficial experience for them,” he wrote.


Social – TechCrunch


Optimizing the browser long tail across platforms, devices, and countries

October 25, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • If a company or brand wants to go global, it must understand the intricacies of where and how consumers browse, realizing that true optimization must consider content consumption trends and regional device or browser differences.
  • Better user experiences and higher engagement levels depend on it.
  • There is no such thing as “mobile vs. desktop” when optimizing visuals for a website.
  • Cloudinary’s VP of Marketing discusses how to optimize at a global scale. 

Just as diverse as the devices and browsers on which people globally surf the web, the internet is a complex digital world. If a company or brand wants to go global, it must understand the intricacies of where and how consumers browse, realizing that true optimization must consider content consumption trends, and regional device or browser differences. Better user experiences and higher engagement levels depend on it. More on how optimizing the browser long tail can help your business.

Visual storytelling is everything, but not simple

Marketers rely heavily on visuals as part of their strategy to make a meaningful impact and ensure a good first impression. Whether to sell an apparel product or market a professional service, a photo or video will more quickly communicate value than a written description. Delivering compelling visuals across a website is critical to achieving the desired call to action for a site visitor, but it’s often technical details that interfere with a brand’s visual storytelling efforts.

There is no such thing as “mobile vs. desktop” when optimizing visuals for a website. While once a helpful reminder for developing responsive and user-friendly sites, this simplistic, either-or mentality doesn’t account for every possible touchpoint.

Consider this scenario: first thing in the morning, a man checks his WhatsApp messages on his phone to see that a friend shared a Facebook link for a fitness watch. He then starts looking more into it on his device before getting out of bed. Once he’s logged on to his desktop during work hours, he does additional research, digging into product details and features. Later, he pulls up the website on his tablet to show the watch to his girlfriend as a birthday hint, referencing customer testimonial videos to drive his point home. Before calling it a day, he’s back on his phone in WhatsApp or via text message, sharing with his friend that he’s almost certain the watch will soon be his.

There are a variety of important aspects to consider when creating a visual story online, as shown in this example: the default browser on the man’s device, the microbrowser through which he communicates with friends, the previews associated with unfurled social media links; and finally, the different devices he interacts with, each having different requirements for size, and aspect ratios. Nothing is more frustrating than investing significant time and resources to create beautiful visuals for a campaign only to discover that audiences aren’t seeing them how they were intended.

The browser long tail and other browser dynamics shouldn’t compromise your visuals

Despite the dominant players in the global browser market, there still exists a browser long tail – a list of different browser versions used by consumers – with significant regional differences. Consumers expect a consistent experience, wherever they engage with brands, but a big reason for consistency issues is a developer’s limited view of just how lengthy that worldwide list of relevant browser types really is.

In this year’s State of the Visual Media Report, Cloudinary found that while Chrome and Safari continue to lead the worldwide browser market (63.91% and 18.2%, respectively), lesser-known variants are still influential in many parts of the world. In analyzing more than 200 billion monthly transactions across 700 customers, research found, for example, that Nokia devices are still popular in Northern Europe, and in certain Asian markets, Nintendo DS systems see a lot of traffic. Surprisingly, there’s even image traffic coming from legacy office software like Lotus Notes. Understanding these nuances of the browser long tail in different geographies will give developers a leg up as they work to ensure every image or video format used is supported by a viewer’s browser of choice.

Adopting visual content and lite mode to improve engagement durations

In April 2020, 18% of global Android users enabled the “save-data,” or lite mode, function, which enables faster browsing by decreasing the amount of mobile data used. In this mode, Google’s servers may consider web pages fully loaded without processing large-format and data-rich visual content. Knowing this, developers can adopt visual content to ensure the experience will be optimal without losing site performance. According to Cloudinary data, web developers that work to optimize the lite mode experience benefit from longer engagement and see up to a 10% uptick in session engagement. Given the strong correlation between adapted content and longer engagement, it’s in a developer’s best interest to ensure visuals are adapted for this device mode and its users.

Embracing intelligent asset optimization for a seamless user experience

Making sure a website’s images and videos are responsive is more than just adjusting for the right layout. More than ever, it’s now about making sure that content is making the greatest use of landscape and portrait device orientations. A responsive site adapts its layout to the viewing environment, resizing and moving elements dynamically based on the properties of the browser or device the site is displayed on.

AI can automatically detect web visitors’ visual requirements and their browsers, automatically delivering each image and video in the most efficient format, quality, and resolution. AI can also detect the subject in an image that is most likely to capture a viewer’s attention to help automate the resizing and cropping of visual content.

The browser long tail shouldn’t degrade a user’s experience of visuals on a website. Dev teams should prepare for the browser longtail as they seek to understand and reach their target audience. Only when they wrap their arms around the vast universe of browser dynamics can they create a visual online storytelling experience that is consistent and meaningful, worldwide.

Sanjay Sarathy is VP Marketing at Cloudinary.

The post Optimizing the browser long tail across platforms, devices, and countries appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Daily Crunch: Facebook Dating comes to Europe

October 24, 2020 No Comments

Facebook’s dating feature expands after a regulatory delay, we review the new Amazon Echo and President Donald Trump has an on-the-nose Twitter password. This is your Daily Crunch for October 22, 2020.

The big story: Facebook Dating comes to Europe

Back in February, Facebook had to call off the European launch date of its dating service after failing to provide the Irish Data Protection Commission with enough advanced notice of the launch. Now it seems the regulator has given Facebook the go-ahead.

Facebook Dating (which launched in the U.S. last year) allows users to create a separate dating profile, identify secret chats and go on video dates.

As for any privacy and regulatory concerns, the commission told us, “Facebook has provided detailed clarifications on the processing of personal data in the context of the Dating feature … We will continue to monitor the product as it launches across the EU this week.”

The tech giants

Amazon Echo review: Well-rounded sound — This year’s redesign centers on another audio upgrade.

Facebook adds hosting, shopping features and pricing tiers to WhatsApp Business — Facebook is launching a way to shop for and pay for goods and services in WhatsApp chats, and it said it will finally start to charge companies using WhatsApp for Business.

Spotify takes on radio with its own daily morning show — The new program will combine news, pop culture, entertainment and music personalized to the listener.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Chinese live tutoring app Yuanfudao is now worth $ 15.5 billion — The homework tutoring app founded in 2012 has surpassed Byju’s as the most valuable edtech company in the world.

E-bike subscription service Dance closes $ 17.7M Series A, led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures — The founders of SoundCloud launched their e-bike service three months ago.

Freelancer banking startup Lili raises $ 15M — It’s only been a few months since Lili announced its $ 10 million seed round, and it’s already raised more funding.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How unicorns helped venture capital get later, and bigger — Q3 2020 was a standout period for how high late-stage money stacked up compared to cash available to younger startups.

Ten Zurich-area investors on Switzerland’s 2020 startup outlook — According to official estimates, the number of new Swiss startups has skyrocketed by 700% since 1996.

Four quick bites and obituaries on Quibi (RIP 2020-2020) — What we can learn from Quibi’s amazing, instantaneous, billions-of-dollars failure.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

President Trump’s Twitter accessed by security expert who guessed password “maga2020!” — After logging into President Trump’s account, the researcher said he alerted Homeland Security and the password was changed.

For the theremin’s 100th anniversary, Moog unveils the gorgeous Claravox Centennial — With a walnut cabinet, brass antennas and a plethora of wonderful knobs and dials, the Claravox looks like it emerged from a prewar recording studio.

Announcing the Agenda for TC Sessions: Space 2020 — Our first-ever dedicated space event is happening on December 16 and 17.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


Social – TechCrunch


Facebook Dating launches in Europe after 9-month+ delay over privacy concerns

October 22, 2020 No Comments

Facebook’s dating bolt-on to its eponymous social networking service has finally launched in Europe, more than nine months after an earlier launch plan was derailed at the last minute over privacy concerns.

From today, European Facebook users in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK can opt into Facebook Dating by creating a profile at facebook.com/dating.

Among the dating product’s main features are the ability to share Stories on your profile; a Secret Crush feature that lets you select up to nine of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers who you’d like to date (without them knowing unless they also add you — triggering a match notification); the ability to see people with similar interests if you add your Facebook Events and Groups to your Dating profile; and a video chat feature called Virtual Dates.

Image credit: Facebook

Of course if you opt in to Facebook Dating you’re going to be plugging even more of your personal data into Facebook’s people profiling machine. And it was concerns about how the dating product would be processing European users’ information that led to a regulatory intervention by the company’s lead data regulator in the EU, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC).

Back in February Facebook agreed to postpone the regional launch of Facebook Dating after the DPC’s agents paid a visit to its Dublin office — saying Facebook had not provided it with enough advanced warning of the product launch, nor adequate documentation about how it would work.

More than nine months later the regulator seems satisfied it now understands how Facebook Dating is processing people’s personal data — although it also says it will be monitoring the EU launch.

Additionally, the DPC says Facebook has made some changes to the product in light of concerns it raised (full details below).

Deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, told TechCrunch: “As you will recall, the DPC became aware of Facebook’s plans to launch Facebook Dating a number of days prior to its planned launch in February of this year. Further to the action taken by the DPC at the time (which included an on-site inspection and a number of queries and concerns being put to Facebook), Facebook has provided detailed clarifications on the processing of personal data in the context of the Dating feature. Facebook has also provided details of changes that they have made to the product to take account of the issues raised by the DPC. We will continue to monitor the product as it launches across the EU this week.”

“Much earlier engagement on such projects is imperative going forward,” he added.

Since the launch of Facebook’s dating product in 20 countries around the world — including the US and a number of markets in Asia and LatAm — the company says more than 1.5 billion matches have been “created”.

In a press release about the European launch, Facebook writes that it has “built Dating with safety, security and privacy at the forefront”, adding: “We worked with experts in these areas to provide easy access to safety tips and build protections into Facebook Dating, including the ability to report and block anyone, as well as stopping people from sending photos, links, payments or videos in messages.”

It also links to an update about Facebook Dating’s privacy which emphasizes the product is an “opt-in experience”. This document includes a section explaining how use of the product impacts Facebook’s data collection and the ads users see across its suite of products.

“Facebook Dating may suggest matches for you based on your activities, preferences and information in Dating and other Facebook Products,” it writes. “We may also use your activity in Dating to personalize your experience, including ads you may see, across Facebook Products. The exception to this is your religious views and the gender(s) you are interested in dating, which will not be used to personalize your experience on other Facebook Products.”

One key privacy-related change flowing from the DPC intervention looks to be that Facebook has committed to excluding the use of Dating users’ religious and sexual orientation information for ad targeting purposes.

Under EU law this type of personal information is classed as ‘special category’ data — and consent to process it requires a higher bar of explicit consent from the user. (And Facebook probably didn’t want to harsh Dating users’ vibe with pop-ups asking them to agree to ads targeting them for being gay or Christian, for example.)

Asked about the product changes, the DPC confirmed a number of changes related to special category data, along with some additional clarifications.

Here’s its full list of “changes and clarifications” obtained from Facebook:

  • Changes to the user interface around a user’s selection of religious belief. Under the original proposal, the “prefer not to say” option was buried in the choices;
  • Updated sign-up flow within the Dating feature to bring to the user’s attention that Dating is a Facebook product and that it is covered by FB’s terms of service and data policy, as particularised by the Supplemental Facebook Dating Terms.
  • Clarification on the uses of special category data (no advertising using special category data and special category data collected in the dating feature will not be used by the core FB service);
  • Clarification that all other information will be used by Facebook in the normal manner across the Facebook platform in accordance with the FB terms of service;
  • Clarification on the processing of location data (location services has to be turned on for onboarding for safety and verification purpose but can then be turned off. Dating does not automatically update users’ Dating location in their Dating profile, even if the user chooses to have their location turned on for the wider Facebook service. Dating location does not use the user’s exact location, and is shown at a city level on the user’s Dating profile.).


Social – TechCrunch


Instagram rolls out fan badges for live videos, expands IGTV ads test

October 20, 2020 No Comments

Instagram is today introducing a new way for creators to make money. The company is now rolling out badges in Instagram Live to an initial group of over 50,000 creators, who will be able to offer their fans the ability to purchase badges during their live videos to stand out in the comments and show their support.

The idea to monetize using fan badges is not unique to Instagram. Other live streaming platforms, including Twitch and YouTube, have similar systems. Facebook Live also allows fans to purchase stars on live videos, as a virtual tipping mechanism.

Instagram users will see three options to purchase a badge during live videos: badges that cost $ 0.99, $ 1.99, or $ 4.99.

On Instagram Live, badges will not only call attention to the fans’ comments, they also unlock special features, Instagram says. This includes a placement on a creator’s list of badge holders and access to a special heart badge.

The badges and list make it easier for creators to quickly see which fans are supporting their efforts, and give them a shout-out, if desired.

Image Credits: Instagram

To kick off the roll out of badges, Instagram says it will also temporarily match creator earnings from badge purchases during live videos, starting in November. Creators @ronnebrown and @youngezee are among those who are testing badges.

The company says it’s not taking a revenue share at launch, but as it expands its test of badges it will explore revenue share in the future.

“Creators push culture forward. Many of them dedicate their life to this, and it’s so important to us that they have easy ways to make money from their content,” said Instagram COO Justin Osofsky, in a statement. “These are additional steps in our work to make Instagram the single best place for creators to tell their story, grow their audience, and make a living,” she added.

Additionally, Instagram today is expanding access to its IGTV ads test to more creators. This program, introduced this spring, allows creators to earn money by including ads alongside their videos. Today, creators keep at least 55% of that revenue, Instagram says.

The introduction of badges and IGTV ads were previously announced, with Instagram saying it would test the former with a small group of creators earlier this year.

The changes follow what’s been a period of rapid growth on Instagram’s live video platform, as creators and fans sheltered at home during the coronavirus pandemic, which had cancelled live events, large meetups, concerts, and more.

During the pandemic’s start, for example, Instagram said Live creators saw a 70% increase in video views from Feb. to March, 2020. In Q2, Facebook also reported monthly active user growth (from 2.99B to 3.14B in Q1) that it said reflected increased engagement from consumers who were spending more time at home.


Social – TechCrunch


The agile marketer: Building agility with technology and talent

October 17, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Old point and shoot methods of SEO are unsustainable.
  • Agile marketers are paving the path forward combining technology and talent.
  • Machine learning is helping search marketers remove repetitive and mundane tasks.
  • COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation that was underway well before.
  • Combining business intelligence and search intelligence is a must.
  • Jim Yu, Founder and CEO of BrightEdge discusses the essentials of being an agile marketer.

“Seeking marketing and search optimization expert with demonstrated abilities to understand search ranking process, lead strategically and collaborate with other teams and departments, bring forth new processes to streamline tasks and create efficiencies, drive brand storytelling strategy across channels…” – Being a digital marketer on the job market, you would see a mix of descriptions like this and the ones below which hint on the search for agile marketers.

“Must have experience in HTML, CSS, PHP, and web standards… own and execute digital strategy including content ideation and creation…”

“Perform A/B testing, own the marketing database, carry out full SEO audits… contribute to thought leadership by authoring blog posts and speaking at events…”

It’s not your imagination, clients and recruiters alike are in fact searching for digital hybrids—for equal parts technical expertise, strategic insight, and creativity all wrapped up in one neat package.

Once upon a time, these seemingly conflicting qualities existed inside of very different roles. Those days are long over. SEO is no longer a tactic and a siloed team, but an integral and foundational part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. Search insights reveal consumer behaviors and trends critical to marketing’s performance and thanks to recent developments in AI, we can monitor and make sense of more of this data than ever before.

Today, if you want to succeed as a leader in the marketing space, you must be agile in its most literal sense: able to move quickly and easily. Across teams and departments, between campaigns and tools, through various channels and market segments—the Agile Marketer has the analytical know-how and emotional intelligence to navigate and lead others through the sprawling digital marketing landscape with ease.

Here are two specific areas in which modern marketers can focus to build agility and value:

A. The technology and insights at your disposal

Monitoring, evaluating, and activating search insights at any sort of scale has proven challenging for SEOs still trying to cobble a workflow together out of disparate tools. Last year, BrightEdge research showed that the average search marketer relies on four to six SEO tools and data sources to execute their strategy.

These tools are responsive by nature, as they tend not to “speak” to one another. Data must be manipulated, reformatted, and evaluated before any recommendations can be deployed. Using point solutions leaves SEOs scrambling to answer consumers’ needs as they were expressed days, weeks, or months ago. To measure the impact of a search update, formulate a new strategy, and only then be able to respond.

Both search technology and consumer behavior have outpaced this approach by far. Data silos and point solutions limit the reach and efficacy of your every digital marketing effort, hindering your ability to drive traffic, leads, and revenue. Companies that make their decisions based on data are 58% more likely to beat their revenue goals, but the quality of that data is imperative.

There’s just no point anymore in creating a massive data warehouse jammed with prospective use cases. The path to operationalizing that data is too long, cumbersome, and far away from its actual utility in marketing.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to graduate beyond this time-consuming and labor-intensive approach. Find a platform that gathers data from all relevant sources, automates repetitive tasks, employs AI and deep learning to make meaningful recommendations, automates to assist, and keeps pace with changes in search all within a single interface.

Intelligent automation and this level enable agile marketers to get in front of consumer demand—to meet site visitors in their moments of need with personalized content that is relevant, timely, and speaks directly to their unique behavioral characteristics. Your tools and technology need to empower your marketing team, not frustrate them, or create more work. They must free up time for more creative, impactful pursuits.

B. The way you put these insights and tools to work

Building agility into your marketing strategy isn’t a matter of picking up a few new skills or switching tools. It’s a mindset, a culture that transforms your marketing strategy from start to finish, from SEO to CMO.

According to a recent survey from Aprimo, 95% of marketers who have agile on their mind plan to adopt the approach within the next 12 months. The same respondents told us that 74% of Agile marketers are satisfied with their team’s performance and that Agile teams feel more capable of handling fast-paced work than their peers.

Top tips to help you and your team become Agile marketers

1. Take a page from our friends in software development

Familiarize yourself with the core tenets of Agile as it’s been used successfully by tech and development teams for years. The Agile Manifesto of Software Development, the Agile bible produced by 17 people in 2001, is a great starting point.

This mindset was founded on four key values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile began as a method of developing software but has evolved into an ideology applicable to all manner of digitally transformative projects such as the Agile Marketing Manifesto.

The four key values when applied specifically to marketing become seven, and they are:

  • Validated learning over opinions and conventions
  • Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
  • Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
  • The process of customer discovery over static prediction
  • Flexible vs. rigid planning
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets

2. Decide what you want to achieve with your Agile approach

Understand the benefits of Agile and decide how each will apply in your own organization.

Accelerating time to market, enhancing one’s ability to manage changing priorities, increasing productivity, and improving alignment between IT and business objectives are among the top reasons firms adopt Agile methods. But what do you expect it to do for yours—and how will you accurately measure outcomes?

3. Understand the characteristics that make agile team members

As I’ve said, agile is a mindset. As you’re putting your teams in place and making new hires, keep your eye on building that culture you want to achieve. Marketers who exhibit qualities of collaboration, openness, creative thinking, and resilience are good choices. Rigidity, total ownership of processes and ideas, unwillingness to change once a plan is in place, and protectionism are all red flags.

Being an agile marketer doesn’t mean you stop planning. It means you build the ability to change and pivot quickly into your plans. At the leadership level, agility requires that you have a big picture view of the tools, data, and people in play but more importantly that you possess the emotional intelligence to understand the motivations and needs of each stakeholder. An agile marketer can “read the room” quickly and on an ongoing basis to inform incremental decisions and make adjustments as the plan is implemented.

Constantly learning. Constantly testing. The Coronavirus was a stark reminder of just how quickly things can change. Consumer behaviors, service delivery models, market segments, and entire organizational models had to change overnight. Companies have been forced to rethink entire product and service lines, in some cases shifting into new verticals.

Agile Marketers are best positioned to succeed in whatever comes next, having built the solid foundation of skills, technology, and talent it takes to constantly process and activate new information.

Is that you?

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post The agile marketer: Building agility with technology and talent appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


‘People also ask’ (PAA) feature: Uncovering Google’s hidden gem

October 15, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Signaling rapid growth, PAA boxes are now present across half of all SERPs.
  • With 75% of PAA results appearing within the top three results in Google, the PAA block opens up visibility opportunities for sites that are struggling to make it to the first page of Google’s SERP.
  • The key to PAA success lies in producing PAA-friendly content that meets PAA best practices – from tackling longer search queries to focusing on brevity and including question words.

With the rise of voice assistants and Google’s mission to turn into a “knowledge engine”, we can spot the proliferation of Google’s SERP features that support these shifts. Embracing these trends, SEMrush decided to take an in-depth look at Google’s ‘People also ask’ (PAA) feature and analyze its ins and outs to help businesses get more visibility with PAA boxes.

Presenting the key highlights from a recent SEMrush 2020 ‘People Also Ask’ study that analyzed over one million keywords for the US, this post provides insights into building a PAA-centered SEO and content strategy.

The rise of the ‘People also ask’ feature

According to SEMrush Sensor, the number of SERPs containing a PAA box has grown by 40-42% since the feature was first introduced back in 2015.

PAA appears to be present within half of the search results pages, with a slight increase when looking at mobile search results. In fact, Google is now six times more likely to return a SERP with a PAA box than with a featured snippet result.

People also ask feature vs Google featured snippets

Note: The drop on the chart comes as a result of Google’s March 2020 adjustment

Although remarkable, this trend towards PAA expansion is not consistent across all industries. With the lowest presence of PAA within the Real Estate industry (9.5%), the highest number of PAAs was spotted within the Computer & Electronics category (64.2%).

The full industry breakdown can be found in the study.

The nature of PAA

On average, the initial PAA block includes four questions:

Number of questions in the people also ask (PAA) box

While in 58% of all cases analyzed the PAA box appears after the first organic result – be it a regular blue link or a featured snippet – in 75% of cases, it is featured within the top three results.

Hidden opportunities

Although 13% of sites making it into the PAA box have a top three ranking, 74% aren’t even present within the first page of the SERP. This implies that the PAA feature opens up opportunities for sites that cannot immediately boost their organic rankings to appear on the first page of search results.

To leverage this opportunity, though, they should understand the inherent features of PAA and meet some of the key requirements we managed to spot.

Unleashing the power of ‘People also ask’

To understand how to leverage the PAA feature for your site and overall business, we have to examine which features impact the occurrence of a PAA block and which ‘content factors’ effect Google’s decision to include this or that piece of content within the PAA box.

‘Outside’ factors, or PAA-centered keyword optimization

1. Search query length

PAAs normally get triggered by longer keywords or complex search queries. With a clear correlation between the length of a search query and a PAA, we can see that a 10-word keyword triggers a PAA 72% of the time, while search results for a two-word query only showcase a PAA in 28% of the cases:

Probability of triggering a Featured Snippet together with PAA

2. Search query type

Questions or question-type queries tend to produce SERPs with a PAA block. 86% of the time, search queries starting with question words like “what”, “why”, “when”, “where” and “who” trigger a PAA.

SEMrush PAA Blog Graphics 20200930_Types of Queries That Trigger the 'people also ask' (PAA)

‘Inside’ factors, or PAA-worthy content features

79% of PAA boxes are filled with paragraphs taken from website content, followed by lists (13.8%) and tables (4.3%).

People also ask (PAA) results format

1. Paragraph length

The average number of words within a paragraph featured in PAA stands at 41 words, implying that brevity is a valuable asset when crafting content for a site.

2. List length

Within our dataset, we found no lists that went over 8 items, with the minimum length standing at a mere two items.

3. Table length

A standard PAA box has space for 14 rows and three columns, although we saw tables that only showed one column and two rows. Since the tables are less popular, we couldn’t make any conclusions regarding best practices when it comes to creating tables specifically for PAA.

Action plan for businesses willing to optimize for PAA

If today optimizing for PAA is a matter of wants, tomorrow, it could be a matter of needs, as search is already moving towards providing users with instant answers at their first command, be it voice or text.

The best feature of PAA is that it’s often a quicker win strategy than a more long-term traditional “blue link” ranking optimization.

In a nutshell, PAA optimization comes down to the following key steps:

  • Reviewing existing SERP features, where it all starts with analyzing if your target keywords currently trigger any PAAs.
  • Discovering missing opportunities by exploring whether your or your competitors’ site ranks for the keywords that generate a PAA block within the SERP but do not appear within the PAA box.
  • Uncovering ideas for PAA-worthy content by integrating the keywords within the PAA box into your keyword strategy and using the PAA block as a goldmine for content ideas.
  • Ensuring your content is as SEO optimized as it gets.

Olga Andrienko is SEMrush’s Head of Global Marketing. Olga can be found on Twitter @Olgandrienko.

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WordPress can now turn blog posts into tweetstorms automatically

October 14, 2020 No Comments

Earlier this year, WordPress.com introduced an easier way to post your Twitter threads, also known as tweetstorms, to your blog with the introduction of the “unroll” option for Twitter embeds. Today, the company is addressing the flip side of tweetstorm publication — it’s making it possible to turn your existing WordPress blog post into a tweetstorm with just a couple of clicks.

The new feature will allow you to tweet out every word of your post, as well as the accompanying images and videos, the company says. These will be automatically inserted into the thread where they belong alongside your text.

To use the tweetstorm feature, a WordPress user will first click on the Jetpack icon on the top right of the page, then connect their Twitter account to their WordPress site, if that hadn’t been done already.

Image Credits: WordPress.com

 

The option also supports multiple Twitter accounts, if you want to post your tweetstorms in several places.

Once Twitter is connected, you’ll select the account or accounts where you want to tweet, then choose the newly added option to share the post as a Twitter thread instead of a single post with a link.

Image Credits: WordPress.com

In the box provided, you’ll write an introductory message for your tweetstorm, so Twitter users will know what your Twitter thread will be discussing.

When you then click on the “publish” button, the blog post will be shared as a tweetstorm automatically.

Image Credits: WordPress.com

The feature was also designed with a few thoughtful touches to make the tweetstorm feel more natural, as if it had been written directly on Twitter.

For starters, WordPress says it will pay attention to the blog post’s formatting in order to determine where to separate the tweets. Instead of packing the first tweet with as many words as possible, it places the break at the end of the first sentence, for example. When a paragraph is too long for a single tweet, it’s automatically split out into as many tweets as needed, instead of being cut off. A list block, meanwhile, will be formatted as a list on Twitter.

To help writers craft a blog post that will work as a tweetstorm, you can choose to view where the tweets will be split in the social preview feature. This allows WordPress users to better shape the post to fit Twitter’s character limit as they write.

Image Credits: WordPress.com

At the end of the published tweetstorm, Twitter followers will be able to click a link to read the post on the WordPress site.

This addresses a common complaint with Twitter threads. While it’s useful to have longer thoughts posted to social media for attention, reading through paragraphs of content directly on Twitter can be difficult. But as tweetstroms grew in popularity, tools to solve this problem emerged. The most popular is a Twitter bot called @ThreadReaderApp, which lets users read a thread in a long-form format by mentioning the account by name within the thread along with the keyword “unroll.”

With the launch of the new WordPress feature, however, Twitter users won’t have to turn to third-party utilities — they can just click through on the link provided to read the content as a blog post. This, in turn, could help turn Twitter followers into blog subscribers, allowing the WordPress writer to increase their overall reach.

WordPress’ plans to introduce the tweetstorm feature had been announced last month as coming in the Jetpack 9.0 release, arriving in early October.

The feature is now publicly available, the company says.


Social – TechCrunch


Why dark mode web designs are gaining popularity

October 12, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The popularity of dark mode web design and its adoption by leading tech giants.
  • How coders and web developers became influencers for this change.
  • The impact of dark mode web design on users and their eyes.
  • How dark mode web design leads to less battery consumption.
  • Various guidelines available online to adopt this new theme.
  • Search engines do not mind the change and thus it doesn’t affect your SEO adversely.
  • User preferences, mood changer, and why adding space matters.

In recent times dark viewing mode for websites has gained a lot of popularity from users worldwide. The followership is so strong that Google right now offers you the ‘Night Eye’ feature where you can apply dark mode on any website as long as you’re using Google Chrome as your browser.

However, the popularity is further augmented with many applications and web designs exclusively adopting this new design feature to make users enjoy the experience that is different from conventional web designs.

According to a recent report by Built With, around 1,028 websites have used Dark Theme to attract customers, out of which 340 are live websites while 688 sites have used Dark Theme historically. Furthermore, Get Polarized conducted recent surveys on various social media platforms to comprehend users’ preferences when it comes to the dark mode or dark theme user interfaces.

It turns out that the majority of users gave an overwhelming response agreeing that the shift was appreciable.

In light of this information, let us take a quick look at some of the prominent reasons as to why dark mode web designs are gaining popularity.

1. Adopted by tech giants

Source: TechCrunch

To consider Google as the progenitor of dark mode would be too biased. In fact, many early home computers that used monochrome CRT monitors used to display greenish text on black screens, in recent times however it was Windows Phone 7 in 2010 that reintroduced dark-colored themes and backgrounds.

Right now, we have major tech giants and popular domains that have actively adopted the so-called ‘Night Mode’ and are offering customers and their users with the ability to shift their viewing preferences as per their choice.

These include big names like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Samsung’s One UI, Apple’s iPad and iOS 13, and Android 10 shadow mode, to name a few who are offering dark mode for users.

Together these online platforms and companies cater to the majority of the urban-tech population of the planet. Hence there is no doubt that night mode became a popular option for internet and smartphone users.

2. Influenced by developers and coders

dark mode web designs

Source: Omg! Ubuntu!

While the dark mode is gaining popularity by users in recent times, seldom do people realize that for program developers and coders who design UI apart from other things, have been working on this theme for a very long time.

In fact, this dark mode theme has been the default look from most coding text editors out there. In fact, some of the most popular coding text editors, including Atom, Sublime Text, Brackets, and Visual Studio Code, all use dark themes.

Hence, it becomes quite easy to understand why coders and developers might influence this transformation when you look at this perspective. Furthermore, according to a recent study published by Medium.com, over 70% of software engineers use Dark Theme IDEs, and dark theme downloads are almost always within the top 10 themes as per popular demand.

3. Friendly to users’ eyes

dark mode web designs is friendly for the eyes

Source: PhoneArena

It seems like biology is involved when dark theme preferences are further studied according to their impact on users and their eyes. The mechanics are simple. Seeing light text on a dark screen allows the iris in our eyes to be more burdened. It has to widen much more than it does in case of a white screen.

Hence, in dark viewing mode, our eyes’ pupil grows in size, thus requiring more effort to focus on things.

This is further backed by statistics regarding astigmatism, a condition that affects almost 33% of the US population. However, at the same time, dark mode is preferable when the reader on any device has low-light conditions and doesn’t prefer to read long chunks of text.

4. The boldness of text or just mood

Source: Facebook

While the argument for using dark text on light backgrounds is fairly strong, however, the argument that it makes the experience aggravating for some also holds true. This is because the majority of users spend their days staring at bright white screens that can result in digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain is defined as a group of vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of cell phone, computer, e-reader, or tablet, to name a few. Many users thus consider the change as much more acceptable and agreeable. This allows them to sink into the darkness and cocoon themselves from bright white light that makes people feel as if they are staring directly into the sun.

While the dark theme does not make the text bold, it happens to create the opposite reaction where letters bleed, dark mode is more of a mood rather than just a feature. According to the recent survey findings on Medium, around 82.7% of participants stated that they prefer to use dark mode on their devices.

5. Less battery consumption

TechSpot

Source: TechSpot

At the 2018 Android Dev Summit, one of Google’s solutions to developers to reduce battery consumption was the introduction of dark UI. Researchers at Google proclaimed that night mode could save battery life.

This finding is shared through a story published by XDA Developers, where it is stated that a dark theme can reduce battery usage up to 63% on AMOLED displays even with max brightness. Furthermore, one also has to consider the fact that white pixels are indeed more power-hungry and that brightness affects both power usage and battery life in a linear fashion.

6. Plenty of guides online

With dark mode becoming a prevalent theme across users, no wonder today, you can find various online guides to make any application and software on your smartphone or browser change the interface. This also adds as well as goes to show just how fanatic people can be at times when a trend hits them.

7. Search engines don’t mind it

Source: 9to5Google

To understand the impact of the dark theme on SEO, we have to consider the user experience. This is due to the fact that users and the usability of your website play a huge role these days when it comes to search engine rankings. Hence if you are planning to go dark mode, then it has to be done right.

The short answer to the question of whether dark mode affects your SEO or not? The answer is NO, but that doesn’t mean that we can neglect users and not provide them with a user-friendly experience.

Hence using a dark theme doesn’t mean that search engines like Google will penalize you for it. It does, however, matter if you are adversely affecting the user experience in some way.

8. User preferences

dark mode web designs - User preference

Source: Reddit

We all are pretty aware of the fact that the majority of the audiences seldom read texts online as the most viewed and popular forms of media are visuals that can be either categorized into videos or images. Hence user preferences do come into play when it comes to the popularity of dark-themed websites.

According to a recent study by Smart Insights®, 92% of marketers are using videos as an important part of their marketing strategy. Furthermore, it is estimated that on average people will spend as much as 100 minutes every day watching online videos in 2021.

This is also supported by the findings of Statista.com, where online video consumption is considered as one of the most popular forms of internet activities worldwide. Hence when taking these studies into perspective, it is definite that dark theme works well with online video streaming sites.

No wonder YouTube and Netflix have become dominant in the usage of these dark tones for the most part.

9. Adding space matters

Lastly, I would like to add that reading or viewing media closely hinged together in a night mode theme website can be more difficult than with a more traditional white background website. Hence a strong word of advice, consider using more space between visual elements and texts when designing a dark themed website.

Conclusion

While laws of science and medicine state; otherwise, the dark mode has become instantly popular amongst the masses. I preferably define dark mode as more of a mood inkling rather than something more profound.

I hope this post was able to offer you some delightful insights regarding why dark mode web designs have gained popularity amongst users. For more questions regarding the topic, please feel free to share your feedback in the comment section below.

Amanda Jerelyn currently works as a Marketing Manager at Dissertation Assistance, a perfect place for students to buy academic writing services from expert dissertation writers UK.  During her free time, she likes to practice mindful yoga to keep herself fit and healthy.

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