#BlackTwitter Infographic via @Peppermiller

Black Twitter has become a morphious description for a community on Twitter that comments  on social issues and ideas important for the African American community.   It is a group that is unlike any previous civil rights groups because of its digital influences and timing from the current cultural trends in the United States.

Pepper Miller created a nice infographic that covers basic stats on Black Twitter.  It is a good starter for a basic discussion of marketing to minority groups in an organic way.   While Black Twitter is not commercial in nature, appreciating sentiment can introduce  marketers to the social media profiles that interact with the group – ranging from small businesses to organizations who could be a potential partner for a service or product.

It also illustrated how African Americans use mobile access frequently. African American and Hispanic digital natives index higher for Twitter usage and, according to Pew Institute, index higher for mobile access.

You can learn more about Pepper Miller at her site peppermiller.net. You can also read a book review I wrote on Pepper’s book on African American marketing trends, Black Still Matters In Marketing,  at Small Business Trends.

Info graphic: Black Twitter Real and Influential by Pepper Miller on Scribd

Avoiding Call To Action Errors – A Small Business Trends Infographic

Our friends at Small Business Trends, created an infographic that highlights how call to action (CTA) is sometimes not much of  a call and creates little action.  CTA is an essential component in analytics. CTA is what creates a click, and drives the purpose behind an analysis.  What traffic actually clicked? What’s the significance?

Moreover, CTA must be optimized.  The phrases used as a CTA are tested in A/B tests.  Improving CTA is linked to driving downloads of an app or purchases from a cart. And there are a lot of factors to what makes a CTA successful.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn how businesses drop the ball on CTA.  For more small business news, follow Small Business Trends.

Calls to Action Data

The difference between curation and content marketing

Ask any marketer, and they’ll say it without a moment’s hesitation. Content marketing is all the rage. It’s safe to guess that the internet is filled with an overabundance of content, to a point where content given with a strategy has become essential to marketing success .

But while interest in creating content is high, deciding how a business develop a strategy for curation should be equally high. Curation is important in sharing content relevant to your strategy or purpose online.

What’s the difference between curation and content strategy? To answer, let’s look at how curation and content are created differently to understand how they are managed differently.

First let’s look at how curation differs from content marketing. The difference lies in the details behind where the content is sourced. Those details dictate the value that the content provides for a digital strategy.

Content marketing is media created to generate brand awareness as the media is shared online. Each article written, every picture taken, or every video recorded is meant to implicitly support a topic of interest related to a business. Much of the value comes from the effort in creating a volume of content to create an impact for SEO.

For example long tail content is created based on constant analysis of a website against search patterns. The end result is that the media can draw links for SEO purposes, as well as creating new topic ideas that can leverage long tail discoveries when potential customers research on keywords of interest to your business.

Curation differs in where the content is sourced. It involves sharing content from other sources that have similar interest to that of your business.

Flipboard, Reverb, Networked Blog and Paper.li, are all tools which permit curation planning and execution. They are designed to share content automatically on your feed, be it social media or a blog. Because these tools share automatically, you must be meticulous in selecting content for quality related to the subjects of interest.

To be meticulous and to build an audience that makes your analytics worth measuring, keep your target audience in mind – know and appreciate the details about their interests. Content is a general term, but its sources do not have to be general. Using curation and content marketing techniques together will tie the effort around the subjects that are important to potential customers – and subjects which will establish your business as a resource worth doing business with.

For more ideas on refreshing content, take a look at this Zimana post on developing evergreen content.

You can also check out this DMNews post on planning content using Google Analytics reports.

How A Hackathon Improves A Marketer’s Tech Skills

This image from Instagram (http://ift.tt/1WygAEL) is my team, Team Public Cry, which participated in the 2016 IoTCivicHack at LaunchFishers in Fishers Indiana @attdevelopers

We hear the phrase Mar-tech in webinars and see it in posts everyday. But how does a marketer gain an appreciation for Mar-tech, especially when training budget for any marketer has been exhausted for the year?

One way is through participating in a hackathon. I should know – I participated in one, the AT&T Hackathon in April 2016. Through it I learned how hackathons offer valuable education time that rival the best paid training sessions or bootcamps.

A little background about the AT&T Hackathon: It was a 24 hour affair hosted at Launch Fishers in Fishers, an affluent suburb of Indianapolis. Launch Fishers had been in operation for a few years, and expanded that year to accommodate more entrepreneurs and startups.

The challenge for participants was to address a civic challenge, outlined by civic and business mentors. The goals was to build creative tech solutions that could help lawmakers, law enforcement and emergency services better understand and solve Indiana’s heroin and methamphetamine problems. The State Police Drug Lab and Marion County Emergency Services provided data related to the civic needs and services mentioned in the opening presentations, but participants were free to use data from many sources.

I cover two main benefits in this CMSWire post on the hackathon – you can read my experience there. Many of the lesson apply to developing a coherent customer experience.

So what else makes a hackathon so valuable for marketers?

For one thing, hackathons nourish an environment where you can ask questions and experiment with solutions without fear of being wrong, or even worst, ruining a budget. Developers are used to working with different frame works and experimenting with functionality into a functioning tool is established. Web development and programming can be plagued with a lot of trial and error, just like any other engineered product.

Another benefit of a hackathon is the fact that you can work with teams with a wide array of experiences. For example in my team for the AT&T hackathon I work with students from various Indiana universities. Some were majoring in marketing and business and others in computer science. I also met a student who was completing a software course through one of the new bootcamp programs such as General Assembly.

That diversity bring up another benefit; The value of humility. You recognize in a hackathon that you can not assume that you must have all the answers going in. Sometimes having part of the answer is important. For example I have been working with Meteor.JS, a JavaScript framework which includes client and server-side code that allows for one page apps to built and incorporate data easily. I have worked with a IDE call Cloud 9, but really had not develop a deep proficiency with developer code at the time.

It turned out during the hackathon that this skill gap did not matter. I collaborated with the other developers in the group to help figure out how to get the programming code to work and function correctly within the IDE. At the end of the hackathon we had some missteps, but we still had a relatively functioning app that we could describe and demonstrate.

The collaboration taught me that although preparation is important, such as having a working knowledge of frameworks, the true value from hackathons is determining how to deploy frameworks, especially within a given deadline.

Another aspect to note was that I was also among the older participants overall, let alone in my group. I was 47 at that time. But my age gave me an advantage of offering perspective on decisions that had to be made when the team met periodically in the development time allotted.

Hackathons can also help marketers understand what goes into the development process a lot more clearly than any words could ever express. Learning to work with cross-functional teams. Learning to leverage skill set that you have balanced with a curiosity to learn more can go a long way to make the hackathon experience enjoyable.

One personal revelation was discovering how much experience I could bring to others. After so many years marketers forget how their experience can help others. Twice I was asked by my younger members about what my experiences were in running an analytics company.

There are plenty of hackathons available for users to jump into. A hackathon does not have to be from within a college setting. ChicagoHack offers a weekly hackathon every Tuesday, in which developers from across the city to work with interested persons as well as provide a platform for learning of the latest data sources. Chicago, like many other cities , are leveraging open data to encourage developers to come up with apps that improve the quality of life in their communities.

Participation in hackathons or other groups blended with technical professionals can help marketers understand what’s going on in the real world without a lot of expense or extensive effort.

Why the importance of monitoring cash has risen among small businesses

Square Card Reader
Credit / Debit Card Readers like this one from Square have accelerated how businesses receive payments from customers. But they also introduce urgency in managing cash flow in a business, one in which new entrepreneurs may not have faced before in their own personal experience
When small businesses are launched, owners are taught that cash is an important lifeblood for survival.  However small business owners are also consumers, and these days consumers are less concerned about retaining cash than they have ever been.

A Pew Institute report confirms this notion. 4 out of 10 Americans do not save cash.

This perspective describes consumers, rather than small business owners. But many  small business owners are consumers, and that non-saving tendency is why setting aside the consumer mindset when launching a business is critical.  Businesses need to think about how they spend on items within the business that reduces their capital or ties it up too much into an asset.

The rise of BOPIS (Buy Online Pay In Store)  and BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store), in which customers shop at home and then pick up their item (or return it), are another reason business need to think about their spend more critically.  Customer transactions are occurring faster, with digital options such as paying online at a portal and mobile payment readers from Square, Paypal, and other providers.  The faster rate means businesses must think about how to time their revenue and payments and ride herd how cash is flowing in a business over time.

A lot of times business owners try to purchase items for availability rather than examining how those items are really used in daily operations.  Having assets sitting around is bad, but so is not having those assets to provide a product or services to customers.   Striking a balance between scenarios is not easy, yet business owners must be wary of having too much capital tied into an asset. Doing so can prevent a owners from making strategic decisions with cash quickly.

The current decline with Sears is a great example that small businesses can learn from. Much of Sears’ parent company invested into real estate owned by the stores rather than the operations or products/services that Sears. While real estate is valuable, it requires upkeep to be made valuable and it can not be sold as quickly as stock. That can make converting into cash difficult to do, especially when time is limited to make a deal or purchase.

Ultimately businesses must figure out a number of ways of saving cash within the business, so that options become better.  One factor that must be kept in mind is making investments that customers ultimately see and feel when engaging a business through its products or services.