The 2016 presidential election did a lot more than make most of us uneasy and want to crawl into a dark hole and hide until it was over. It brought to light, in full force, the issue of “fake news” and its ability to spread like a contagious foot fungus. We saw it spread across social media and the entire Internet.
Regardless of the spot on the political spectrum in which you find yourself, fake news is something we’ve all read about in the past couple of months, and it needs to be addressed in a real and practical way. It’s time to stop and ask ourselves a few questions, and attempt to get some answers.
What is “fake news”?
Many individuals now think of fake news as a form of political propaganda, especially since its existence received a lot of attention during and after the 2016 election. I mean, when is the whole truth and nothing but the truth disclosed during a political campaign anyway? The tradition of highlighting not-so-nice things about your opponent in a blatantly biased TV commercial ad during election season should be expected. Fabricating news entirely shouldn’t be though.
Lately, we have seen fake news go beyond traditional political propaganda or tabloid ads claiming a celebrity was abducted by aliens. One well-known example was dubbed “Pizzagate”, when a man fired a rifle in a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant after reading a story online that the restaurant was involved in a child-trafficking ring led by Hillary Clinton.
In his Buzzfeed article “Top Fake News of 2016,” Craig Silverman highlights research he conducted using BuzzSumo. Silverman discusses the top-performing fake content on Facebook in 2016, with a link to a Google spreadsheet with links to the 50 top-performing articles.
Here are some fake stories that were in the top 20 on the list:
- “Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide” (This one received over 2 million Facebook engagements!)
- “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement”
- “Trump Offering Free One-Way Tickets to Africa & Mexico for Those Who Wanna Leave America”
- “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide”
- “President Obama Confirms He Will Refuse to Leave Office If Trump Is Elected”
The best way to tell if a story is “fake news” is to verify its source and its credibility. Here is a starter list of fake news websites to be wary of on Facebook if you’re interested in seeing what unreliable sources look like. And here is another list.
Is fake news a real problem? If so, for whom?
Fake news was obviously a problem for the individuals inside the pizza restaurant in D.C. where a man started shooting his rifle. But it’s also a prevalent problem among Americans in general.
According to a recent Pew Research study:
“About two-in-three U.S. adults (64%) say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. This sense is shared widely across incomes, education levels, partisan affiliations and most other demographic characteristics.”
So, yes, fake news is a real problem for most Americans. According to the same Pew study, a quarter of Americans also admitted to spreading fake news in 2016, and most of them were well aware that the items they were sharing were fake.
What’s even more disturbing than a large chunk of Americans knowingly engaging with and spreading fake news? The fact that engagement for fake news on Facebook surpassed that of the content from major news outlets leading up to and during the 2016 election. Pulitzer winner, Politifact, even designated their “2016 Lie of the Year” to “fake news” itself. Because there were so many instances of fake news stories that were created, by so many individuals, they were unable to pinpoint just one.
Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as its word of 2016. It’s defined as the condition when “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Fake news is a sign that we are living in a post-truth society.
When we can’t agree on straightforward facts — or even that there are such things as facts — how are we supposed to talk to each other?
Fake news is also a major problem for students across the United States. This Stanford History Education Group study reveals that across the United States, many students can’t tell the difference between a reported news article, a persuasive opinion piece, and a corporate ad. This is a major problem. Future generations should be able to make these distinctions, especially when they are old enough to vote.
Who or what is responsible for fake news?
Because fake news is primarily spread across social media and search engines, Facebook and Google were accused of aiding the contagion of fake content across the web during the 2016 election. Many experts claimed that there was more each company could have done with their algorithms to prevent fake news stories from spreading. Each company has since put the wheels in motion to stop fake news from spreading. You can read more about that here.
Some claim that most individuals who create fake news do it for the revenue that ads on Facebook and Google generate. “I make like $10,000 a month from AdSense,” Paul Horner, a prolific, Facebook-focused fake-news writer claimed in this Washington Post article. However, there are a lot of people like Jestin Coler (and his 20+ writers) who “insists this [creating fake news] is not about money. It’s about showing how easily fake news spreads. And fake news spread wide and far before the election.” (source– NPR).
While we like to blame social media and writers for the epidemic of fake news, it’s up to us as content-consumers to verify what we are reading. And hopefully a lot more of us start caring about the quality of what we are consuming.
How can we prevent fake news from spreading?
The first and obvious way to prevent fake news from spreading is to refrain from creating it or sharing it at all.
Here are some other tips:
- Bookmark some of the sources listed in this post that identify some of the better known fake news outlets and stories.
- Determine who wrote the piece in question- the byline. Verify the author’s history and reputation as a writer, as well as the sources they are using.
- Identify when (date and time) the piece in question was published. Note:“Breaking News” is continuously updated.
- Notice how the piece makes you feel when you read it. If you get enraged, take a breath and check the facts before sharing it.
- Use sources and 3rd party fact-checkers to verify facts in the articles you encounter, such as Politifact, Factcheck.org, The Washington Post Fact Checker. And use the SharetheFacts.org’s widget.
We should never believe anything we read without thinking about it first, especially if it conjures up intense emotions. And we should always use our critical thinking skills.
Share this post if you want others to be more aware too!
Self-help techniques and paraphernalia get a bad rap. Sometimes we judge others who seek out help as being devoid of something, whether it be on an intellectual, physical, or spiritual level. However, the size of the overall self-help industry is worth around $9 billion annually.
Odd, isn’t it? Why do we want to pretend like we think self-help, also known as “self-development” or “self-improvement”, is a lowly thing, when we are literally buying it on a mass scale?
Should the items on the list below be considered as avenues for “self-help”?
- Online Courses
- Wearable Devices
- Social Media
Technology is noticeably the essential component of the items on this list; and all the items listed yield data and or information.
We should think about the role technology plays in the betterment of our livelihoods. When we use a device like a Fitbit to help us follow fitness goals, should we consider that “self-help”? Should we consider it “self-help” when we watch a spiritual leader’s most recent podcast, or tune in to a webinar on marketing trends for our professional development? Why or why not?
Is it critical to rely solely on the data and information that technology yields to us for self-improvement, or is it simply more convenient to have an app track everything for us?
MEDITATE ABOUT THIS: Is technology an accessory to our self-help goals, simply making it easier to attain our goals? Or is technology necessary to attaining our self-help goals, where we can’t improve ourselves or our lives without it?
Let’s take some examples from the list above to see if we can determine if they are necessary to our intellectual, physical, or spiritual improvement…or just nice to have as an accessory.
Intellectual Self-Improvement & Technology
Online learning through webinars and on-demand classes are more prevalent than ever. If we are trying to expand our knowledge in a certain area of expertise, is it even possible to do so without the Internet and information that is hosted online? Perhaps. But not if we want to ensure we have the most relevant and up-to-date information.
While books are still printed and sold in large quantities, we can’t deny that the avenues in which we educate ourselves are majorly held online now, and are digital. Books are now a supplement to a course, not the main instrument from which a course is derived. With the widespread use of search engines, on-demand courses, testing platforms, conferencing tools, mobile tutoring apps, and virtual webinars, technology is a major component behind how we learn more and improve our skills.
Are we able to improve our expertise without technology?
Physical Self-Improvement & Technology
The Fitbit is a popular device people wear in order to track their heart rates when they move, how often they move, as well as their sleeping patterns. It is part of a trend of wearable technology and apps that track one’s fitness goals so that they can increase their physical activity levels and get in better shape.
Some may argue that we don’t necessarily need wearable technology or apps to make sure we get to the gym on a regular basis. And while that may be true to some extent, it’s important to consider where we would be without devices such as the Fitbit. Counting the calories we consume and the pounds we lose is not necessarily a foolproof way to assess our health. The human body is complex and many factors need to be considered when gauging one’s physical health.
Sure, we could follow a human personal trainer’s planned sessions, but if we don’t have real-time data on our physical state, reminders, and reports, then how are we calculating physical improvement?
Spiritual Self-Improvement & Technology
Self-help e-books and podcasts abound; here’s a short list published by the Huffington Post.
We seek out media that allows us to explore big questions or change the current state of our emotional well-being, content that inspires us. The best part is, we can engage with others and share these pieces of media online through social networks.
Many people still go to a physical location for worship and prayer, or attend motivational talks held at conference centers. However, the digital media used for spiritual self-help online, or even the media used at large talks held in conference centers, assists with the proliferation and sharing of spiritual improvement of the self.
Is it possible to grow spiritually without utilizing digital information for knowledge attainment, and to be part of a spiritual community? Are podcasts and similar media a major force behind how we have come to understand the ways in which we can improve and practice spirituality?
We can certainly read a book to increase our skill levels, go to the gym on a regular basis without tracking anything on a device, and seek out spiritual confidence without podcasts and digital media. But, can we be the best we can be intellectually, physically, or spiritually without technology at all?
If we are seeking ways to improve ourselves, can we do so without the help of technology in the world we live in now?
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Every day a new smartphone app crosses our digital path. Google Play for Android has over 1.5 million apps and the Apple store has over 1.2 million (source). The IoT (Internet of Things) movement is flourishing, as well. In 2015, Gartner predicted that by 2016, 6.4 billion “things” (everything from your coffee pot to your office printer) will be connected to the Internet (source).
Need to get a grocery list together, organized by where certain items are located in the grocery store you frequent? There’s an app for that. Need to communicate with your remote team on a particular project while you are away on a business trip, but you don’t want to bombard their inboxes in the middle of the night? There’s an app for that too. You can even print out items for your team meeting from your smartphone when you are commuting to the office so that your reports are ready when you arrive (hopefully, for everyone’s safety, you’re on a train or in a cab when you do this).
This sounds terrific! We can do everything faster and more conveniently than ever before, at work and in our personal lives. We’re always connected to our teams and have limitless ways to be more productive and save time. And this is all made possible through the Internet and our smartphones. Great! But…
Let’s pause and meditate about this for a moment before we continue downloading the most recent productivity app. Let’s think about why we feel this need to be connected to the Internet all the time across all devices, why we feel the need to track our every movement and plan, and why we think that it makes us more productive. I’m starting to wonder if it does. And I know that I’m not the only one. (Total disclosure: I have 6 productivity apps on my smartphone at the moment, not including all the Microsoft Office products I use. So… I am trying to play the “devil’s advocate” here and think about this from all angles.)
While a number of enterprises and companies attempt to go mobile so that their workforce can be on the go, sometimes it causes problems because there isn’t just one single app for everything that needs to be done for a project, or for someone in a certain role. As highlighted in this article , typically apps aren’t comprehensive and only contain singular functions. For instance, you have an app for writing documents, and another one for editing it, and yet another one for financial spreadsheets, and another one for team communications, and yet another one for a project calendar. This doesn’t seem to be conducive to being more productive because you have to constantly learn different apps each time you are attempting a different type of task, and you always have to open and close apps to get what you need done… and then you have to remember to sync them all!
According to a study conducted by Pew Research, 46% of workers feel more productive because they have access to the Internet, email, and smartphones. However, only 2% of total time spent on mobile apps is used for the purpose of being more productive (infographic source). There are also a multitude of apps being created that monitor our activity on the Internet and shut down our access to the Internet so that we can be more productive; here’s a list of some of them. So there’s an app that makes sure we don’t use other apps.
Nowadays, we are constantly being sold this idea that we need to be more productive, at work and in our personal lives. We need to do more, quicker, cheaper, and on the go with our mobile devices. How? There’s an app for that. And the apps all notify us, every minute of every day, that we need to be doing something.
There are so many apps intended to make us more productive that I couldn’t even count the number of productivity apps available for download in the Play Store on my Android device. And when I searched the Google Play Store for a simple grocery shopping list organizer, there were 24 results! This doesn’t even include the options that are available in the Apple store.
For those of us who live and breathe simply to discover the newest app or productivity software, 24 apps for a category may not seem that high. However, if you’re like many Americans, you don’t live simply to discover the newest and greatest app. According to another Pew Research study, over 60% of Americans don’t flock to adopting new technology and wait until it has been on the market for a while (there a variety of contributing factors for this).
There have also been many movements, articles, and pleas (made by people other than our family members born before the 1960’s) about disconnecting ourselves from our devices entirely every now and then so that we can be more productive and less stressed out. Here are a couple of resources to consider: Why unplugging can lead to happier, more productive workers , Why You Need To Unplug Every 90 Minutes
So, after you meditate on this, will you go download an app, or unplug entirely? Perhaps the best way to be productive is somewhere in between…
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Technology makes our lives easier and more fulfilling. We can do things faster and more efficiently than ever before. This is no secret.
We have our GPS, which makes it less likely we’ll find ourselves out in the middle of nowhere (unless, of course, that is where we would like to be). It’s easier and faster to stay in touch and communicate with others we work with, family members on the other side of the globe, and those individuals who share our unusual fascination for things like duct tape art and collecting elongated coins. Technology has also allowed us to reach new feats in medical research and data collection. The list could continue for pages, but I won’t offer an exhaustive list (at least, not in this short post).
Throughout history, philosophers, scientists, and scholars, have recognized the influence nature has had on technological innovation. The most notable testimony of this insight is from ancient Greece— “technology learns from or imitates nature (Plato, Laws X 899a ff.). According to Democritus, for example, house-building and weaving were first invented by imitating swallows and spiders building their nests and nets, respectively” (source, section 1.1).
In my most recent post (in the spirit of celebrating National Great Outdoors Month) I posed the question of whether technology can bring us closer to nature. Now, I think it would be interesting to think of the ways that nature has inspired technological innovation. This will help us better understand why we innovate gadgets, gizmos, and apps.
Questions for Meditation:
What advances in technology in the modern age are inspired by nature? Is this important to consider when innovating technology? If so, why?
Leonardo da Vinci seemed to think so. He studied bats and birds, and sketched flying contraptions that mimicked the shape and mobility of their wings (source). Da Vinci is notorious for using what we now call biomimicry (an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies).
Da Vinci stated, “Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature.” If we presume (like da Vinci) that necessity drives nature, would it benefit us to think that necessity should then drive technological innovation? Is technological innovation most successful when it is driven by nature, which is driven by necessity?
Necessity –> Nature –> Technology ?
Below are some modern examples of nature inspiring technological innovation:
Burrs & Velcro
“After a hunting trip in the Alps in 1941, Swiss engineer George de Mestral’s dog was covered in burdock burrs. Mestral put one under his microscope and discovered a simple design of hooks that nimbly attached to fur and socks.” (source) Voila, Velcro was born.
Kingfisher Bird & Shinkansen Bullet Train
Engineers were concerned with the sonic boom that train riders would experience after a high speed train they were inventing emerged from tunnels. After engineer Nakatsu observed the Kingfisher bird in nature, the problem was resolved.
“The Kingfisher is a type of bird that dives from the air, which has low resistance, into high-resistance water, and incredibly does it without splashing. Nakatsu thought the reason was the streamlined shape of its beak. They conducted tests to measure pressure waves arising from shooting bullets of various shapes into a pipe. The data showed that the ideal shape for this Shinkansen is almost identical to a kingfisher’s beak! They then fitted the front of the train with a design similar to the kingfisher’s beak, and the problem with the sonic booms was gone.” (source)
Bees & Drones
Drone designers are now looking to bees to help them better understand how to make drones more efficient at navigating airspace.
“…motion-direction detecting circuits could be wired together to also detect motion-speed. This is how bees control their flight — and could very well be the future of how drones behave, too.” (source)
Gecko Skin & Robots
“NASA has been learning a few tricks by observing the gecko.
Tiny hairs on their feet allow these small lizards to grip and climb walls – and they don’t lose their stickiness over time. The harder they press their feet, the stickier they become.
Aaron Parness and colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena have developed a material containing minute synthetic hairs that stick to a surface when a force is applied to make the hairs bend.
Prototype objects have been developed which might in future be able to act as anchors on board the International Space Station – but the technology may also be able to be used on its exterior, by repair or inspection robots.”
Using the same principle, researchers at Stanford University in the US have developed tiny robots that can drag more than 2,000 times their own weight. (source)
Butterfly Wings & E-readers
“Researchers developing color displays for e-readers are taking inspiration from an unlikely source: butterfly wings. Qualcomm MEMS Technologies created the first full-color, video-friendly e-reader prototype based on the way butterfly wings gleam in bright light. The display, known as Mirasol, works by reflecting light, instead of transmitting light from behind the screen the way LCD monitors do. The new type of screen can be read in bright sunlight and has longer battery life.” (source)
Firefly Light Bulbs
“When insects of the genus Photuris light fires in their bellies, the radiance is amplified by their anatomy — sharp, jagged scales, according to research published in January  by scientists from Belgium, France, and Canada.
Based on this observation, the scientists then built and laid a similar structure on a light-emitting diode (LED), which increased its brightness by 55 percent.” (source)
Algae & Biofuel
“Depending on your favorite species, algae can be eaten, burned for heat, or used to produce hydrogen, methane, biodiesel, or plain old fertilizer. Algae is so prolific, and comes in so many varieties, that it’s actually a chore to isolate your preferred species for cultivation out of a water sample from the wild. The best part is that algae soaks up the sun and lots of CO2 to work its magic. That’s two forms of renewable energy used to produce fuels or foods (sushi anyone?) in high demand.” (source)
What would you add to this list? Do you think that technology inspired by nature is inspired by necessity?
June is now officially recognized as National Great Outdoors Month.
While we recognize this month, we’ll tell ourselves that we need to leave our tablets and smartphones back at home or the cabin as we hike the Appalachian Trail (or part of it), fish in the stream in our backyard, bike our way through the vast plains, or launch our boat from the nearby marina.
It’s summer time now and we all want to be outside. We may not all, however, want to leave our beloved gadgets and apps behind. We have photos and stories to share with the world! And we know we can’t leave emails from our boss or potential clients neglected for too long.
We think about what photos and moments we want to capture and share on social media as we hike along…
It’s no secret that technology pervades every aspect of our lives; how we work, where we work, how we learn, how we communicate. The list goes on and on…
And with the constant innovation of new phone apps, gizmos and gadgets, we are all being told now that we should disconnect more frequently from our devices and social media accounts.
Being glued to our screens constantly shrinks our brains, makes us lazy thinkers, makes us suffer from “text claw” and could wreck our spines, makes us emotionally unstable because we are getting lonely and sad as we scroll through our Facebook feeds, and makes us more irritable because we aren’t sleeping due to our circadian rhythm being all out of whack… so they* say.
*“they” here is referring to those individuals who conduct medical and psychological studies regarding effects of technology use on us mortals who all need to constantly remember to lead healthier and more balanced lifestyles (whatever that means) … far, far away from blue screens that haunt us at night as we try to sleep but can’t escape… from the addictive power of Netflix.
While all of that might be true… just for a few moments, I’d like to think about how technology could bring us closer to nature.
And while we should definitely experience the outdoors more while the sun is out in full force, I would like to pose two questions for meditation:
1- Should we view technology and nature as opposites? (Man vs Machine)
2- In order to take full advantage of the great outdoors and appreciate it, do we need to leave all of our gizmos, gadgets, devices, and apps behind?
Perhaps we should consider a different perspective, where nature and technology meet; a perspective where technology not only allows us to appreciate the great outdoors more, but can even potentially save a life and make our lives more fulfilling, while we’re surrounded by fresh foliage and chirping herons.
Consider the following before you go explore the great outdoors:
- The American Red Cross mobile apps provide information for:
- Administering first aid (even for Rover, your furry pal who’s hiking with you)
- Local weather patterns
- How to prepare for a natural disaster
- There are apps that allow you to navigate the terrain in front of you before you attempt to tackle it, so you don’t encounter terrain that you aren’t prepared to cover or that has changed due to recent weather (source). And let’s not forget the often taken for granted GPS. You know, Google even has maps for a lot more than city streets (google it).
- And in order to enhance our outdoor experiences and to really immerse ourselves in the environment around us, we can use the bird identifying app , and apps that identify plants.
- And luckily, we have entities that provide us with gizmos and gadgets specifically for the outdoors that won’t easily become damaged. There are even options that spies could use. That is, if spies actually camp. I don’t remember James Bond ever camping…
Even though the above list is short, it exemplifies how technology can potentially bring us even closer to appreciating our experiences in the outdoors (opposed to the trending theme that blue screens are evil and will kill us all).
What do you think? Do you have an app or device that you love to use when in the great outdoors; that allows you to appreciate nature more than you would without it? Or do you believe in the sanctity of disconnecting completely while you listen to birds singing and the nearby brook babble?
Content Marketing is going to be the activity with the greatest impact for digital marketers in 2016:
So, whether you are yet a key player in creating content, creating content is becoming THE HUGEST factor we all must consider when fine-tuning our digital marketing initiatives. Starting a blog is by far the best way to share and showcase your content. And whether you work for yourself or another entity, showcasing what you are all about in a digital space is very important nowadays. Make no mistake, “digital marketing” is not just a term in the wheelhouse of professional marketers and corporations.
When it comes to promoting yourself for a job, showcasing your writing to potential publishers, becoming a thought leader in your industry or academic field, promoting your company’s brand, or gaining more supporters for your nonprofit organization, etc. … producing digital content that leads to measurable results is a major factor to consider.
For solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, and other organizations alike…
If YOU are:
- Deciding whether to start a blog, digital or social marketing campaign
- In the beginning stages of starting a blog, digital or social marketing campaign
- Have an existing blog, digital or social marketing campaign that’s reach, impact, and following is waning or needs revamping
Then the chances are high that the question of whether you should create more content (quantity) OR spend your effort collecting data and research for content that your target audience values the most (quality), is at the crux of your campaign efforts. You are not alone in this dilemma.
“77% of marketers will increase content production in the next 12 months (end of 2014 into 2015)”. Now that we are in 2016, the volume of content being produced is becoming higher and higher.
For Bill Belew’s students who posted short articles multiple times a day instead of only one article once a day, their content “produced more than 10 times the organic search results”. Publishing more content, especially optimized content, does increase the likelihood that your content will appear in more search results.
However, while publishing content multiple times a day may increase the likelihood that someone will find your content in a search engine result, is it worth it? Others are surely finding your content, but is that content valuable to them? Are they going to continue to come back to what you produce? Does that matter for your business model or personal marketing objectives?
The same individuals who say they plan on producing more content, also admit that their
- Lack of Time/Bandwidth to Create Content (51%)
- Producing Enough Content Variety/Volume (50%)
- Producing Truly Engaging Content (42%)
- Measuring Content Effectiveness (38%)
- Developing Consistent Content Strategy (34%)
Hence the dilemma is born. Is it actually possible to produce more content when you have limited time and or a limited budget for resources? And if you can create more content, are you still able to produce content that is engaging, effective, consistent, yet varied enough? Do you have to sacrifice one in order to have the other?
Quantity vs Quality Argument (in a nutshell)
Content creators and marketers debate whether publishing short and frequent posts are more beneficial than publishing long-form, well-researched, and meticulously edited posts. Either way, you are still investing time and money in your resources to produce more (1,000 words is still 1,000 words whether it is in one post or three). So, which side is correct? The answer is… it depends. As always in marketing, it depends on who your target audience is, and what your goals are. Let’s now look at the Argument for Quantity and the Argument for Quality, before coming to a conclusion; while keeping our own set of goals in mind.
Argument for Quantity
Content creators and marketers who opt for publishing more, shorter articles (500 words or less a piece, 10+ times a month), argue:
- The reader can get to the information she/he is looking for in the text faster. Typically, someone who is searching for an answer to a specific question or problem via a search engine will glance at an article and determine whether she/he wants to wade through all of the text to find the answer. (source)
- The quality of an article is too subjective for a search engine to pick up; they only speak SEO lingo and have no way of determining what will be valuable to a reader. Search engines can only determine how many pieces of content you post and pick up key phrases and words related to the search request. (source)
- More content produced equals more traffic to your website and higher ROI (Return On Investment) “Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.” And “companies with 1 – 10 employees and 11 – 25 employees… saw the highest return on leads when they blogged more than 10 times per month. When they published 11+ blog posts per month, they generated almost twice as many leads as companies that published 6 – 10 blog posts per month.” (source)
Argument for Quality
Content creators and marketers who opt for publishing less, longer articles (500 words or more a piece, once or twice a week), argue:
- The reader can get to the information she/he actually wants to engage with and enjoy. The reader will find content that doesn’t just answer one question or problem they have, but many. Long-form content, therefore, can have a higher return on ROI because it can be broken down into many pieces and shared multiple times for different reasons. (source)
- Search engines know if readers find the content they are clicking on to be valuable. Even if you get more people to click on your content from the search results page, search engines will still be able to determine who is reading your content all the way through and clicking on links, who’s engaging with it (commenting, liking, sharing), and how long they stay on your content before moving on to the next thing. (source)
- Content creators and companies that produce longer articles position themselves as thought leaders in their field and provide genuine value to their customers and audiences. If you take the time to conduct the proper research, understand what your audience is interested in reading, what their concerns are–AND produce content that responds to those complexities (while promoting your brand), then your audience will come to trust you and your content’s value. (source)
Answer to the Quantity vs Quality Argument (in a nutshell)
Know your audience and or your customers. Do your research and collect data about your audience– Who are they? What are their concerns? What platforms are they on and can they easily access your content?
Have different types of content out there to see what works for your goals; test it out and see what works and when. Do your readers engage with and share short how-to articles more than they do long-form researched articles? Or do they spend more time on your in-depth content and write thoughtful comments? What type of content is leading your readers to take more action (shares, visits to your website, or completed transactions)?
You should incorporate both quantity and quality into your digital marketing strategies. You shouldn’t have to choose a side.
For instance– If you’re a 10-person company launching a new web platform, you could have 2 long-form posts about the research behind what led you to create your platform (market research supporting why people need and or want the platform), and then break it down into smaller bits for smaller articles all about the different functions and features of the platform and how it compares to others in the market and why it’s easy or fun to use; keep it light and incorporate images. Research shows that using infographics is now a favorite among content consumers. “Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content.” (source) Why? Because they are easy to digest, trust, and share. And they tell a story.
The argument about “Quantity vs. Quality” in digital content doesn’t seem to ultimately exist once you get to know your readers and what they want to read. If you understand the problems of your readers, you can produce a variety of content that addresses their needs and wants without sacrificing the quality that it offers. The important part is to measure and test the content you publish in order to see if it is indeed having the desired effect, and whether or not it is in alignment with your goals.
Happy content creating and sharing!
During the holiday season it has become tradition to travel across the country to visit family and friends. We cook wonderful and elaborate meals, fill our plates with too much food, pepper our social media feeds with what we are thankful for and cute photos of our kids and or pets in festive garb. Many of us rush out the door during the early hours the Friday after Thanksgiving to wait in lines at superstores to get the best deals. And after arriving home frazzled and drained, I am sure the promise to never forget about what the holiday season is actually all about is uttered… that is, until Cyber Monday rolls around. And then we spend the next few weeks panicking about what to buy others and what type of drink options to have at the party we’re hosting, while trying to squeeze attending our coworker’s charity fund raiser into our schedule that is already filled with lunch meetings, holiday plays, and potlucks.
Stress is unavoidable during the holiday season. The below list of apps is here to help you stay focused on what I believe most of us believe the holiday season is all about… GIVING and BEING CONNECTED. Even while you are busy, these apps make it easy to give and stay connected.
All apps listed are available on iOS and Android devices for free unless otherwise notated.
Their slogan: “Elfster is a FREE gift exchange website to make gift-giving easier. We make Christmas, holidays and other gift exchanges free, easy, and fun!”
Through this app, you can get gift ideas for friends and loved ones in the “shop” section that is arranged by categories of interest, price range, and even links to items on Amazon and Etsy. You can also set up a Secret Santa gift exchange, as well as utilize their free online giving platform for your family and friends, local community, charities, and business. Additionally, you can share gift wish lists with family members and friends so they know not only what you want but where to get it.
Their slogan: “Raise money for charity when you walk, run, or bike.”
Through this app, bikers earn up to 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn up to 25¢ per mile. Select which charity you’d like to run, walk, or bike for and press “start.” The app tracks your distance and earns money for the organization you selected. Organizations include, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, DoSomething.org and more. This is a great way to earn money for an organization during the holiday season (and even after) while staying fit or just walking the dog.
Their slogan: “One app, any cause, any time.”
If you are traveling during the holidays, this app makes it easy to donate to a cause that is important to you while you are on the go. You only have to follow three easy steps: 1) Choose a donation amount 2) Select the fundraising campaign to which you’d like to contribute, and 3) tap “Give Now”. This app also makes it incredibly easy for those who are leading fundraising and donation campaigns to track details so that when tax time rolls around you have all the information you need in reports.
These apps allow you to decorate a Christmas tree and share it with others through social media, email, and SMS. This is a great idea for those family members who won’t be able to come over to trim the tree with you this year. It can also keep the kids occupied.
Their Slogan: “Share your world & watch live video with just your phone.”
If you want to share video of your kids opening their gifts, playing in the snow, or singing in the choir, this app helps you capture and share these timeless moments. It’s also a great way to share your moments, in live action, with family and friends who are on the other side of the country or world.
6. Pinterest is a great platform to use for sharing holiday recipes with others, and to get ideas for new traditions; for instance, gingerbread cheesecake bites. There are also a lot of great ideas for decorating the house and hosting parties.
There are so many apps out there for the holidays. Share your favorite app to use during the holidays with others, below.
Ask yourself the following questions and contemplate your immediate responses for a few moments (really try to linger with them) before reading the remainder of this post. Simply think of this as an exercise to help you develop your awareness and understanding of an important topic that currently permeates many facets of our daily lives.
- What is the digital divide?
- Who is currently divided from whom?
- And from what are they divided?
- What are the causes of this division?
- How does this affect me?
(Insert Jeopardy game show music here while you ponder your responses…)
Now, here is what some experts are saying in response to the above questions:
- What is the digital divide?
“In general, the digital divide refers to the disparity between those who have access to high-speed Internet [broadband connection] at home and those who do not.”[i]
- Who is currently divided from whom?
“The idea of the ‘digital divide’ refers to the growing gap between the underprivileged members of society, especially the poor, rural, elderly, and handicapped portion of the population who do not have access to computers or the internet; and the wealthy, middle-class, and young Americans living in urban and suburban areas who have access.”[ii]
- And from what are they divided?
“ Since 1995, the Pew Research Center has documented this explosive adoption of the internet and its wide-ranging impacts on everything from: the way people get, share, and create news; the way they take care of their health; the way they perform their jobs; the way they learn; the nature of their political activity; their interactions with government; the style and scope of their communications with friends and family; and the way they organize in communities.”[iii]
- What are the causes of this division?
#1- A person’s age
#2 A person’s income and educational attainment
#3 A person’s community type
#4 Whether or not a person has a disability
#5 A person’s Spanish-speaking preference; whether he/she is a minority
The answer to the fifth question, “How does this affect me?” is simple or complex, depending on your independent understanding of what the “digital divide” means to you. The answer is simple if you first acknowledge that if you are reading this article, odds are likely that you don’t fall into the “underprivileged members of society” group mentioned in the response to question #2 above. And the odds that you partake in activities on the Internet that have deep impact on your life and those around you (mentioned in the response to #3 above) are extremely high. You have the ability to quickly and freely communicate and engage with others about whatever you choose on both a local and global scale. You have the ability to engage in conversations with your government officials who make decisions that affect the policies and institutions that are in the city or community in which you live. You are able to access medical and health information easily when you are sick or need to find a reliable professional to consult, as well as pay your bills. You have the ability to learn at your own leisure, by either taking classes online or conducting general research; there is information constantly at your fingertips. And chances are that you have a job you acquired through utilizing online sources and search engines, whether it is was acquired through a LinkedIn contact, an email, an Indeed job notification, and etc. And chances are higher that you will be able to keep the job you have because you will be able to use the skills you have learned at your own leisure while surfing the Internet; simply knowing how to surf the Internet is a skill.
After some consideration it’s easy to see how integral the Internet has become to our daily lives and how we choose to live them. While this may not be too difficult to realize, after a brief pause, what does still seem to be difficult is how we understand what to do about this “digital divide” and why it’s important not only to those that will benefit from gaining broadband access in the future, but to those of us who are already connected. It all starts with our independent perspectives of what it means to be undivided. It all starts with us collaborating and being inclusive. It starts with us asking ourselves the above questions and then talking about our responses together, whether you are involved with a non-profit group, a public group, a corporation, or are a single concerned citizen.
In “Who Should Close the Digital Divide?”[v] George Lowery captures an important notion when recounting an interview with Dmitry Epstein; “Recent events illustrate how being plugged into or cut off from the Internet can change history. ‘For some, access means buying something on eBay. Others use the technology to challenge regimes,’ he said, referring to Egypt.” Now, when you think of the involvement of the Internet in the Arab Spring and what that meant for a community it is a powerful notion. When you consider everything you use the Internet for and how integral it is to contemporary life it becomes easier to see why we can’t leave out virtually half of the world’s population from the conversation surrounding how to use it and how to innovate it.
According to the 2015 Broadband Progress Report released by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), 17% of all Americans (55 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.[vi] And according to a World Economic Forum report released in April 2015, “only 39% of the global population enjoys access to the internet despite the fact that more than half now owns a mobile phone.”[vii] It is imperative while we move forward in advancing the Internet and what it can help us accomplish that we don’t leave behind 17% of the United States’ population and 39% of the world’s population from the conversation.
So then, I ask again, if 17% of the United States is not connected to the Internet via broadband, how does this affect you? How will this affect the way you buy things; the way markets will change? How will this affect the way you interact with others (both online and in-person)? How will this affect your community’s politics and policies? How will this affect the way that you learn? While each response is individual, the conversation is holistic and complex. And we must start asking ourselves these questions.
[i] Parks, Peggy J. Compact Research. The Digital Divide: The Internet, San Diego, CA: Reference Point Press, 2013. Book