The content marketing trends your business should be implementing

JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance writer.

Through proper content marketing, businesses can build their brand, raise awareness, and engender trust. This type of marketing positions businesses as credible and reliable information sources. Sharing and promoting content related to your particular industry attracts people to your social media and digital platforms as well as your product lines.

With so many potential benefits from content marketing, here’s a look at the trends that your business should consider implementing:

“Director of Content” is the new highly recruited marketing title

The person in this critical role helps coordinate sales and marketing activities to ensure both departments are working toward the same goals. In addition, this leader provides a vision and helps the business incorporate the best content marketing strategies, including webinars, videos and guest blog posts.

By shaping strategies and overseeing execution, the content director ensures messaging remains focused and on brand. Whoever holds this role needs to have a well-rounded approach to creating, managing and distributing content across multiple platforms to reach as many people in the company’s target audience as possible.

Mobile optimization is crucial

mobile optimize sites 520x320 The content marketing trends your business should be implementing

A 2014 report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project reveals 90 perent of Americans over the age of 18 have cellphones and nearly 60 percent have smartphones. Approximately half of all adults in the United States own a tablet.

With such impressive penetration, it’s not surprising that a separate report from financial giant Morgan Stanley predicts mobile Web usage will exceed laptop Web browsing by 2015. As smartphones are becoming cheaper, the study results illustrate the absolute necessity of content marketing on mobile devices.

Whether you’re creating email newsletters, white papers, or podcasts, optimize the content for mobile devices. Failing to take this step means you might not reach a large part of your target audience.

Videos need to play properly on smartphones and tablets. Webinars need to enable people to join on the go. Thinking about mobile now ensures your company won’t fall behind the curve in the coming months.

The evolution of the guest video post

Many companies are hip to the opportunities that come from having one of their leaders write guest blog posts and bylined articles for industry publications. Imagine, however, the bang you could get from doing a guest video post.

video 730x276 The content marketing trends your business should be implementing

Guest bloggers can easily create engaging, high-quality videos that will inform and educate on a variety of essential topics. Videos allow guests to show, not just tell, so the company will receive a more compelling piece from their guests.

With studies reporting videos as the new way to reach a mass audience, the evolution of guest videos is upon us.

Engaging industry influencers

Don’t think that you have to create all content in-house. Work with industry influencers who have respected voices, and ask them to develop content your company can distribute.

For example, you might ask a well-known consultant to write a review of your newest product. While you won’t have the kind of control over the content you’d have if you used someone inside your company, you do gain greater credibility and trust through working with a professional outside your firm.

Another possibility is having someone in your marketing communications department do an audio or video interview with the influencer. Edit and package the content for distribution on social media and your company’s website. Then, ask the influencer to share with his or her followers.

Develop a one-stop shop

Some companies enjoy success by developing a one-stop online resource where visitors can educate themselves on issues and topics relevant to your industry.

One approach is to use a university model in which you offer online courses, instructional modules, and self-test tools. Content packaged to teach your customers things they want to learn is highly effective at drawing in visitors and getting them to engage with your site.

checklist 520x346 The content marketing trends your business should be implementingCreate a check-list to ensure you’re contributing the most helpful information for your viewers. Does your site have extremely high-quality content? Does your company practice data curating to get the most up-to-date, comprehensive information available? It may be time to start!

Try custom-content feeds that give viewers access to a variety of content like social media RSS. Another option is to recruit influencers to contribute to your site. Have a leader in the field post a blog, or take the time to interview one of the most successful people in the field and post the video online.

Utilize Google+ and SlideShare

Move over, Facebook! New social media sites are pushing the envelope for B2B content marketers. With new technologies from Google bursting at the seams every year, there is no doubt that Google+ is innovating a whole new network of social sharing.

Many people are taking up Google+ to disseminate content marketing information for their companies. Professionals are connecting with their work, while also sharing personal articles and photos with family and friends.

SlideShare will also be a key contributor in content sharing. With the ability to create presentations and share them easily with groups, this trend has B2B marketers working hard to create vivid and engaging content.

With all of these new trends, it’s easy to say that content marketing is growing rapidly. The industry is experiencing new advancements every year, which is sure to provide more insight on what is producing ROI for all companies utilizing it.

Read next: 6 ways content marketing has changed the way we do PR

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Who To Follow On Twitter, According To Marc Andreessen

Well-known Tweetstormer and investor Marc Andreessen has produced a list of his favorite people to follow on Twitter. He was prompted to do so by an article in The Information called “Silicon Valley’s Frontman Problem” by Jessica Lessin, who questioned if the industry leaders most often quoted by the media (she cited Andreessen, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel) really “represent the views of the broader Silicon Valley community.”

“The more media coverage Silicon Valley gets, the more important it is that other voices get heard,” Lessin wrote.

(In addition to Lessin’s thought piece, New York magazine also just published an interview with Andreessen, in which he talked about the cultural changes in Silicon Valley since he arrived in 1994 and diversity in the tech industry, among other topics.)

His list “only a highly abridged selection,” Andreessen (@pmarca) tweeted, but a helpful one because his public list of tech industry-related accounts has over 600 members.

Since Andreessen’s prolific use of Twitter means his tweets tend to get buried quickly, TechCrunch has saved his highly abridged list for posterity here.


IMAGE BY Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Secure Messaging App Wickr Adds 22 Languages To Give More People A Private Voice

Wickr, one of the wave of secure messaging apps that have risen to prominence in the last year as people question how private their data and communications really are these days (even among “private” apps), is expanding its sights globally. From today, the app — which has had “well over 3 million downloads” says CEO and co-founder Nico Sell — is adding language support for 22 languages on top of English, including Arabic, simple and traditional Chinese, and Russian.

The full list of new languages — they are Arabic, Catalan, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Simple Chinese), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish — speaks to a number of countries (some 196 are covered by this language group), some of which have been very recent political hotspots.

There, citizens protesting against leaders have often been thwarted in their attempts to communicate with each other and the outside world to organise and spread their messages. And in many cases, governments have been explicit about their intentions to monitor private individuals’ conversations — a situation that affects not just those who are treading on sensitive, political ground, but those who simply don’t like the idea of others snooping on them.

While Wickr has seen a lot of takeup already internationally (more on that below), adding in the native language support will help make the app significantly more mainstream. Today, a user in a non-English speaking country would essentially have had to know some English to use the app, even if that person could ultimately type messages in any script that his/her phone supported.

The news is being announced at the same time that Wickr is being named the official app of the Oslo Freedom Forum, the annual confab run by the president of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen. It’s the first time that the OFF — whose theme this year is “Defeating Dictators” — has endorsed a particular communication app.

“Human rights defenders and activists living in authoritarian regimes across the globe are under constant surveillance and many of them are targets of persecution and harassment,” he said in a statement. “Wickr has become an essential tool for our at-risk allies. It is my considered judgment that the Wickr team is tirelessly committed to providing a platform safeguarding the right to privacy and freedom of expression.”

There are a couple of reasons behind this.

The first is that it’s a recognition of how Wickr is already being used in critical situations. Nico Sell, Wickr’s co-founder and CEO, tells me that the last several weeks have seen an 800% spike of downloads in Korea as we’ve seen messaging services there take a hit, and a 300% increase in Hong Kong, site of a lot of protesting at the moment. Wickr’s user base is currently split at around 55% U.S. users, 45% international, Sell tells me. “The proportion is changing ever since we introduced Android a year ago,” she says. The Wickr app was launched first on iPhone.

The other connection between Wickr and Halvorssen is more direct. He is a Wickr investor and advisor who participated in the company’s $9 million Series A alongside a number of other very prominent names in security and privacy. That earlier round was led by Alsop Louie Partners, a VC that has backed companies that include Twitch and but also has honed in on companies tackling security and privacy, raising a $100 million fund for the purpose.

The biggest countries for Wickr usage today outside the U.S. are Brazil and Canada, Sell says. While Canada, so close to the U.S. in language and much more, may not seem like much of a surprise, why Brazil? “Ever since they passed their internet bill of rights our numbers there have skyrocketed,” Sell says. “Essentially if you read it, it sounds like the Wickr product description with its references to no keys to private data, so I’m not surprised.”

Wickr has altogether raised $39 million in funding, including a $30 million round earlier this year with participation from Dolby Family Ventures, Jim Breyer, Riverwood Capital, Knight Foundation, Juniper Networks and Alsop Louie Partners. Other investors include Gilman Louie, former head of the C.I.A.’s venture arm In-Q-Tel; networking company Juniper; former counterterrorism tsar Richard A. Clarke; Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital in London and others who are not being made public.

Looking ahead, Wickr is also continuing to push ahead on its business model. Since the app is free and will not be running ads, Sell and co. are looking at white-label deals as one way of monetizing the service. It’s now working with Iusacell  in Mexico to build a service for them, and it’s got two other “larger” carriers signed up, as well as gaming companies. “All of them are global and not U.S. based,” Sell says.

As for tackling and working with the bigger tech companies, Sell notes “I am not talking to Facebook or Google, but we are talking to some very big brands, brands that don’t make their money off intensive personal information retrieval.” When I tell her that this reminds me of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s phrasing of Apple’s own approach to privacy, she declines to say whether Wickr is talking with them but does note that “device manufacturers make money off devices, not off of personal information, and they are much more likely partners for us.”

Image: Flickr

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Uber’s Nonprofit Ridesharing Service People’s Uber Expands To More Chinese Cities

Uber has expanded People’s Uber, its ridesharing pilot program, to more cities in China today, following its August launch in Beijing. People’s Uber is now available in Hangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

People’s Uber matches car owners with people looking for a lift. Unlike Uber’s other options, UberBLACK and UberX, riders are only expected to pay enough to cover the driver’s basic costs, like gas or tolls.

In its announcement, Uber said that it launched People’s Uber in China because “Chinese consumers are known to be early adopters of technology, and municipal governments have acted quickly to support forward thinking initiatives that improve the city’s quality of life.”

The company hasn’t disclosed exactly how a non-profit ridesharing program fits into its overall business strategy. One way that Uber can benefit, however, is by getting more Chinese consumers on the Uber app, in the hopes that they will eventually start using its paid options.

In China, Uber faces two formidable competitors: KuaiDi Dache, which is backed by Alipay, the online-payment platform and Alibaba Group subsidiary, as well as Didi Dache, which is backed by Tencent, another Internet giant that is probably best known overseas for its messaging app WeChat. Didi already has plans to hold an IPO in the U.S. within the next three to five years.

Both Kuaidi and DiDi are already popular among drivers and riders alike. In fact, Beijing’s transport commission issued a ruling in February that allows taxis to use only one taxi-calling app on their smartphones because they said that checking messages from several different apps results in hazardous driving.

Shanghai’s city government then created a similar regulation. The Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority cited the apps’ pricing war, stating “though the taxi booking apps raised efficiency, their marketing and the function to add premium prices have disturbed the fair market order. App enterprises unwilling to be regulated will face a shutdown of their apps.”

Of course, regulations in major Chinese markets is a problem that Uber will share with its local competitors, but People’s Uber may help it gain some positive publicity.

Original post: Uber’s Nonprofit Ridesharing Service People’s Uber Expands To More Chinese Cities

The UK will quadruple prison sentences for online abuse, trolls can get up to 2 years in jail

The issue of online trolling is never too far away from public debate, but the UK government is gearing up to tackle the problem head-on by quadrupling the maximum sentence for those convicted of online abuse.

The news comes hot on the heels of the well-publicized threats aimed at Judy Finnegan and her daughter on Twitter, after the TV presenter voiced a degree of support for a footballer who was set to be released from prison after serving two years for rape.

Now, as the Mail on Sunday reports, internet trolls who partake in vile abuse could receive anything up to two years behind bars as part of a renewed attempt to curb trolling.

“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life,” said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. “No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”

An amendment to facilitate this new law will be made to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that is already going through Parliament.

Crackdown on the cyber-mobs poisoning Britain [Daily Mail]

Feature Image Credit – Shutterstock

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