Why We’re Thinking About Messaging Apps All Wrong

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If you start to feel the low burn of anxiety rising in your gut whenever you hear about messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat, take comfort — you’re not alone. Much of the coverage on messaging apps to date has been accompanied by a mixture of sheer awe at their velocity and the oddly foreboding tone of a teenage dystopian blockbuster.

I asked Eytan Oren, CEO a consultancy that specializes in messaging apps called BlockParty, why he thinks that is: “The growth of the ecosystem took a lot of people by surprise — especially in the U.S. where chat apps took longer to catch on. At this point there are more people on chat apps than traditional networks, and though that shift was several years in the making, some people experienced it as an overnight success,” he explained.

“There’s also a level on which people may have grown comfortable with a small pantheon of “social media” leaders — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. All of a sudden you have a dozen chat apps with hundreds of millions of users to consider on top of those traditional outlets, and it can be daunting to know where to start.”

Whether it’s the arrival of something we don’t yet understand or unease over the sheer volume of users each of these messaging apps have accumulated, the tone around messaging apps is reminiscent of the restlessness that accompanied the emergence of social media 12 or 13 years ago. So what does that mean for marketers? Well, let’s take a closer look.

What Exactly is a Messaging App?

At their core, messaging apps enable one-to-one or one-to-few interactions in a fast, often cost-free way.

Skype and Blackberry Messenger are commonly thought of as the “grandparents of messaging apps,” which today number in the hundreds. The largest messaging apps in the world include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, Line, and Snapchat. Each of these have their own regional and demographic stronghold. The graphic below from BlockParty demonstrates their scale:

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You cannot talk about messaging apps without addressing their rapid growth of adoption. According to GlobalWebIndex, 75% of internet users today use some sort of a messaging app.

Research from Business Insider shows how quickly messaging apps have caught up to and surpassed social media network usage. Their chart below compares WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Oh, and by the way, it’s measured in billions – with a B. So the top four messaging apps have 2.125 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Which leads me to the next question: Is all this hoopla — billions and billions in monthly usage, exponentially growing articles, and spiking public attention — really just over the ability to send tiny little messages?

Likely not. Read on, my wise and good-looking visitor, read on.

How Are Messaging Apps Different From Social Media?

Part of understanding the import of messaging apps is zeroing in on what makes them different from traditional communication channels such as broadcast or social media.

If social media removes the barriers for people to broadcast messages out to an audience of many, messaging apps remove the barriers for people to interact one-on-one. And what are those barriers? Data plans for starters. One reason messaging apps spread so quickly with younger generations is due to the fact that they became known as the free alternative to text messaging. Whether you are talking to someone across the street or across the globe, most messaging apps enable you do to do so over WiFi without cost or impact on your mobile data limits.

Privacy concerns is another barrier messaging apps seem to address. For a generation that grew up with the highly public nature of social media, messaging apps offer a shade of privacy to talk with one or a group of your friends away from the public eye. Having private or semi-private channels for communication is of increasing importance, particularly as you look beyond messaging into a wider array of transactions. Which leads me to the next point …

Why Messaging Apps May Not Ultimately Be About Messaging At All

If you think of messaging apps as just another form of text messaging, you may be missing the larger picture.

We have a bad habit of naming things before we really understand what they’re capable of. We did it with social media. Early on we named Facebook, Twitter and similar sites “social media” because “media” was the only framework we had for mass communication. And that name colored our interpretation of it.

“Why would I want to know what you had for lunch?” Was the common retort against Twitter, for example.

The reason so many initially missed the point of social media was that they looked at it through the lens of traditional media, and “media” had historically been reserved for essential and polished information at the time. All the news that’s fit to print. But social really wasn’t media in the traditional sense at all. It was something entirely new. It opened up millions of simultaneous platforms and angles from which to see and report on the world around us.

We may be headed down a similar path with messaging apps. We’ve named WhatsApp and the like “messaging apps” because that’s our current context for them. They send messages. But what if the larger story behind messaging apps is not that they remove barriers to sending messages, but rather that they remove barriers to all digital interactions and transactions.

Today messaging apps are starting to evolve to include video, images, and even financial transactions. Everlane and Zulily use Facebook Messenger to take orders and process returns. The companies leverage an integration between Messenger and Zendesk to funnel messenger requests directly through their support channels.

What Everlane, Zulilly, and Zendesk are doing is just the beginning. Rare Pink, a Jeweler in London, is using WeChat exclusively to communicate with about 10% of its customers. Hotels like LINQ in Las Vegas are also opening up messaging apps for fast check-in and to enable guests to adjust the lighting and temperature in their rooms.

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A guest of LINQ hotel opens their suite door with WeChat

Promoting an open API for anyone wanting to build apps or integrations into it, WeChat has been quick to develop new use cases for messaging. As a result, they’re seeing it seep into every aspect of users’ lives.

For more than 500 million users in China, [WeChat is] essentially The Everything App. People use it to talk with their friends and their colleagues, and also to… book train tickets and get their laundry done, order dinner and play the lottery, pick out clothes and play videogames. It’s the remote control for your smart home, a mobile bank, and a way to renew your visa,” explains David Pierce, senior staff writer at Wired.

You can, for all intents and purposes, live your entire life within WeChat. It takes a phone full of apps to replicate its entire functionality.”

Let’s go over that again: “It takes a phone full of apps and replicates its entire functionality.”

So maybe the above chart comparing social media networks and message app usage is the wrong idea. Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all, but rather as an evolving infrastructure.

Where Do We Go From Here?

There was a time when social media was a perplexing newcomer to our lives. Today it’s hard to imagine an election season or a winter storm or an episode of the Bachelor without an accompanying hashtag. Social changed the way we absorb the world around us — from the trivial to the momentous. It took years to find its place, but it’s indelible now.

When we think about messaging apps, we ought to think about not what they are today, but what they could be — what their underlying functionality makes possible — down the line. A recent report by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism paints this picture well: “While messaging is currently a clearly defined function of specific apps, the future is likely to be one wherein the capability is baked-in to nearly all digital technologies and services. The point where a messaging app begins and ends will begin to blur,” they explain.

When you look at the unique ways in which companies like Everlane, Zendesk, and LINQ are starting to use messaging apps, it’s not hard to see how this permeation could begin. We’re a ways off still, but it’s possible to imagine a time when messaging apps will be so widely used they will become indistinguishable from any other mass utility. As NeimanLab’s Joseph Lichterman predicted, “Soon messaging will become like electricity — ubiquitous and involved in nearly everything we do.”

What do you think are the possibilities for messaging apps in your industry? What would it take for them to gain traction as a marketing, sales and service channel within your business? Share your thoughts below. 

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How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippet Box

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In the past few years Google have been refining the way that it displays results to users. In particular, Google has been increasing the number of Featured Snippets that it displays for queries.

What’s a Featured Snippet? And more importantly, what do you have to do to appear there? Well, that’s what I set out to explore. 

What is a Featured Snippet?

A Featured Snippet is shown in some search engine results pages (SERPs), usually when a question-based query is being searched for. The snippet displays content from within one of the pages ranking on page one that directly answers the question searched for without the user having to visit the actual page.

Here’s an example for the query, “how to make bread“:

Featured Snippet: how to make bread

The Featured Snippet is the box at the top that displays the direct instructions that have been pulled from the tasteofhome.com webpage. You may have heard these referred to as ‘answer boxes’ in the past. 

Why Should You Care About Featured Snippets?

One of the first conclusions that a lot of people involved with SEO jumped to was that featured snippets would have a hugely negative impact on the amount of people that actually click through to the pages within the results. This actually hasn’t been the case. In fact, it’s dramatically increased the click-through rate (CTR) of results ranking within it.

From a sample of just under 5,000 queries, I found that the CTR to the HubSpot website for high volume keywords increased by over 114%, even when we ranked #1 (just below the Featured Snippet — like in the example below).

Inbound Marketing Featured Snippet

So to give you an example, let’s say you rank #1 (the first post below the snippet) on page one of Google for a keyword that’s searched for 10,000 times. From the data I’ve collected, you could expect roughly 1,700 visits, compared to the 3,700 you might see if you landed the Featured Snippet spot — and that’s just one keyword.

How Do You Rank in the Featured Snippet Section?

Featured Snippets have been a bit of a mystery for a lot of people involved with SEO, as it hasn’t been that easy to determine what influences getting your content to appear within them.

There’s been a lot of conflicting advice out there, including the idea that Schema.org data was the reason behind Google displaying this data. However, considering that more than 80% of the websites I’ve looked at that rank within the Featured Snippet don’t use any kind of Schema.org markup data, it’s safe to say that this isn’t the case.

Not only that but Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has said outright that structured data has nothing to do with ranking in the Featured Snippet.

Instead of speculating, I decided to run some research of my own. I wanted to answer the following questions:

  • How frequently does a Featured Snippet appear in the SERPs?
  • How often does HubSpot rank within the Featured Snippet?
  • How much of an impact does the Featured Snippet have on CTR from the search engines?
  • What factors contribute to ranking in the Featured Snippet box?

The results of the test should give you a good idea on how you can start ranking more frequently within the Featured Snippet box.

Organizing the Featured Snippet Analysis:

Just to give you a bit of insight into what data I pulled, here’s a brief overview:

  1. I gathered a total of 4,713 different search queries where hubspot.com ranked between #1 and #5 on page one of Google.com.
  2. The queries all contained either, “how to,” “what is,” “how do,” or “how does.” This was intentional, as Stone Temple found that from 850,000 question-based queries, 19% of them had a Featured Snippet.
  3. I analysed the SERPs for each of the 4,713 queries to see if there was a Featured Snippet present or not.
  4. Of the 4,713 queries, 1,361 (29%) of them had a Featured Snippet present. The remaining 71% either didn’t have a Featured Snippet or they did but it was an unlinked “definition” box (i.e. it just gave the definition of a word and didn’t link to a page — like this).
  5. Once I had the sample of 1,361 queries that displayed Featured Snippets, I scraped the SERPs again to see who was ranking within it, what the content of the Featured Snippet was, and what the URL of the featured page was.
  6. Of the 1,361 queries (where HubSpot rank between #1 and #5 on page one), we appeared in the Featured Snippet 444 times (33%), leaving a remaining 917 queries where we didn’t rank in the Featured Snippet.

What the Featured Snippet Analysis Revealed:

The analysis helped me uncover a few interesting things …

Chart: Appearance in Featured Snippet vs URL Ranking

Allow me to explain what this chart is demonstrating:

  • The numbers (1–5) in the y-axis relate to the position on page one that a HubSpot URL ranks for a given query.
  • For each position HubSpot ranks for, there is a bar that shows how often we appear in the Featured Snippet (blue) and how often we don’t (orange).

So, for keywords that we rank #1 for on page one in Google SERPs, we only appear in the Featured Snippet 18% of the time. Contrastingly, we appear in the Featured Snippet 28% of the time when we rank #5. Strange, right?

Well, what this says to us is that once you’re in the top 5 results on page one, building backlinks and other authority signals matter much less for ranking in the Featured Snippet. In fact, I’ve seen lots of occasions where relatively unknown websites with much less SEO authority than HubSpot have ranked above us.

The semantic relevance to the keyword in question, along with clear page structure seems to be much more important. 

Here’s another interesting piece of data that illustrates how valuable it can be to rank in the Featured Snippet within Google …

Chart: SERP CTR for Featured Snippet vs No Featured Snippet

Again, to decipher this graph, here’s a brief overview:

  • The x-axis relates to the monthly search volume for the search queries measured.
  • The y-axis shows the click-through rate (CTR) of the ranking HubSpot URL from within Google (i.e. how many people clicked on our search result versus the rest of the results in the search results page for a query).
  • The blue line plots the CTR from the SERPs for HubSpot URLs when we do not appear in the Featured Snippet, broken down by query search volume (x-axis).
  • The orange line plots the CTR from the SERPs for HubSpot URLs when we do appear in the Featured Snippet, broken down by query search volume (x-axis).

By and large, we get much more clicks through to our content when we appear in the Featured Snippet, but this becomes increasingly important as the search volume for a query increases.

For high traffic keywords, ranking in the Featured Snippet saw an average increase in CTR of over 114%, and that’s even if we’re ranking #1 on page one.

Chart: Frequency of Featured Snippet Word Count

This chart is a little more straightforward. As I mentioned above, I extracted all of the content from within the Featured Snippets that I sampled. I did this to identify any trends in the content being displayed in order to better understand what Google is looking for.

As you can see, content between the length of 54-58 words in total seemed to appear by far the most frequently.

7 Key Takeaways to Help You Rank in the Featured Snippet Section

From the analysis that I’ve done, here are the conclusions that I’ve drawn:

  1. Backlinks matter much less for ranking in the Featured Snippet when you already rank on page one.
  2. There should be an area on the page where the search query appears in a header (h2, h3, h4, etc.).
  3. The content you want to appear in the Featured Snippet (the answer to the query) should be placed in a <p> tag directly below the header mentioned above. This answer should be between 54–58 words long.
  4. Google doesn’t always just pull through a whole paragraph of text into the Featured Snippet. If you add “Step 1,” “Step 2,” “Step 3,” etc. to the start of each subheading within a page (h2) then Google will sometimes just pull through the subheadings and list them chronologically, like in the example above for this URL. This is particularly prevalent in question-based queries.
  5. Featured Snippets for the same query often have different content within Google.com, Google.co.uk, Google.com.au, and Google.ie. Try “how to search on Google” as one of many examples.
  6. For shorter, less question-orientated keywords that display a Featured Snippet (e.g. “Inbound Sales”), it’s much more likely that Google will pull through a paragraph of text as opposed to a step-by-step. Page structure is incredibly important here.
  7. Google tends to prefer ‘answers’ that begin logically as an answer would. Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I mean by this:

Featured Snippet ExampleFeatured Snippet ExampleFeatured Snippet ExampleFeatured Snippet Example

My advice for anyone looking to increase their visibility within the Featured Snippet box is to first run a quick audit of the keywords that you’re ranking for within your current SEO campaign, and how many of them are question-based queries. Once you’ve got this list, you can drill down on where you’re currently ranking, how well your content is structured, and then devise a plan to reoptimize your content based on the advice I’ve given above.

How will you apply this to your own SEO efforts? Drop a comment below or tweet me directly to share your thoughts and ideas. 

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6 Ways That Nonprofits Can Improve Their Keyword Research

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The power of search engine optimization (SEO) is irrefutable. When your organization is easier to find on Google and Bing, you’ll generate more visibility around your work. Your nonprofit will experience the perks that come with bringing more people to your website—from increased membership to PR attention and beyond.

When it comes to success with SEO, long-tail is the name of the game. In other words, your best strategy is to target phrases or expressions that you’re using to target your audience. To understand this difference, take a look at the following examples of long-tail keywords:

  • “keyword research tips for nonprofits”
  • “improve distribution to your blog posts”
  • “tips for increasing membership rates for nonprofits”

Unlike keyword expressions like “marketing tips” or “nonprofit marketing tips,” long-tail keywords revolve around a very specific search intent. They’re also challenging to identify, as Google releases minimal search engine data to the public. You’ll need to do some research to ensure that you’re taking the right steps forward. The good news? We’ve got a proven-framework for success.

Tips for Creating and Optimizing Your Nonprofit’s Keyword Strategy

1) Brainstorm a Topic List

Get 5 people in a room with a whiteboard, and start brainstorming a list of topics that are important to your organization. These can be anything: problems that your nonprofit is tackling, communities that you serve, issues you stand for, or services that you offer. The more broad the better—you’ll want to create a list that’s thorough and comprehensive. Worry first about major themes, and then dig into specifics afterwards.

With some creative mind-mapping and outlining, you can structure this brainstorm into a list of keywords that you can research. By starting with the keywords first, you’ll ensure an approach that prioritizes your audience’s needs over any algorithm.

2) Organize Your Brainstorm

Take the brainstorms you generated, and start grouping your ideas by causes, communities, and personas. The, translate this ideation process into a cohesive list of topic ideas. From there, create a list of keywords that are relevant to each topic (eventually, you’ll commit to focusing on one keyword per topic).

What you’ll soon realize is that there are numerous directions that you can take with your content. Take a step back to understand why, and figure out the directions and angles that are most on-point with your cause. This approach will help ensure that your ideas are the right combination of interesting, engaging, and easy to find through search engines. 

3) Research Related 

The beauty of natural language is that it’s subjective. That’s why, after building your initial blog topic and SEO keyword lists, you’ll want to research similar angles and directions. You might also ask another team member to help—just to provide an extra eye and set of recommendations.

Your keyword research should involve SEO tools, conversations with customers, and data from your web analytics software. Cast your net wide and figure out what you don’t know. Look for hidden opportunities to reach your target audiences through search.

4) Mix Long-Tail and Head Terms

Just because long-tail is the name of the game doesn’t mean that you should avoid head terms altogether. After you’ve managed your SEO strategy for six months to a year, you’ll start to see trends among keywords that are driving traffic.

Use this long-tail success data to continue to identify other potential head terms. Think of these as keywords that are more general—and more competitive to rank for in search engines as a result. Using long-tail keyword data, you can better target the head terms that are most aligned with your brand and that make sense to target as a result.

5) See Where Your Competitors Fall

The search landscape is highly competitive: you’ll want to understand how Google ranks key players in your industry. See where your competitors fall by conducting keyword research audits on their blogs and websites.

Instead of looking to replicate what they’re doing however, look for hidden opportunities. Among nonprofits, especially, similar organizations should work together and share successes—not try to outrank each other.

The knowledge of how your partner and peer institutions are ranking can help you come up with ideas that you may not have previously seen. Don’t build your SEO strategy in a bubble: know what others are doing so that your nonprofit is visible, too.

6) Cut Down Your List to Start

When it comes to a successful SEO strategy, planning is only part of the equation. Execution is equally important.

Make sure that you’re focused in your approach: start by targeting a few keywords and monitoring the results of those efforts. Replicate what works, nix what doesn’t, and keep forging ahead with small, steady tests. Over time, you’ll see trends that you wouldn’t have been able to foresee.

Focus with SEO is key. If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t see real results.

Need More Support?

Here’s a free SEO template, along with some in-depth instructions. These resources are designed for the corporate sector, but the tips are just as applicable to nonprofits. 

Be sure to re-evaluate your process every few months: once a quarter is a good benchmarks. As you start to build visibility in search, you can add more keywords to your lists. 

Grow slowly and steadily. Watch what your nonprofit peers are doing. Aim to be relevant. Structure, strategy, patience, and creativity will be your best SEO assets.

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How to Use Instagram for Your Business [Free Ebook]

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Instagram for business has become an essential element of social media marketing. With 400 million users, over 80 million posts per day, and a 93% growth month-over-month for businesses using it, Instagram is an extremely useful social media platform to take advantage of. While other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn each serve their own purpose, Instagram is a platform where you can show your company’s human side.

It’s not too late to get your business started with Instagram, but it’s important that when you do, you go about it in the right way. That’s why Hubspot and Iconosquare teamed up to bring you How to Use Instagram for BusinessIn this guide, we’ll teach you how to leverage Instagram for your business, from determining your brand guidelines to understanding the anatomy of a perfect post. 

You’ll also learn:

  • What, when, and how to post on Instagram to get followers
  • How to set goals
  • How to use contests to grow followers fast
  • Best practices for using hashtags
  • Tips for measuring success and proving value to your executives
  • Examples of brands to pull inspiration from
  • And more!

Click here to download How to Use Instagram for Business today. 

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How to Use Hashtags on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

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A lot of words have been added to the dictionary over the past few decades thanks to social media, but few have become so widely used and accepted as “hashtag.”

For a long time, the hashtag symbol (#) was known simply as the “pound” symbol. Now, I could swear that the only time I hear it referred to as a pound symbol is when I enter my PIN number to pay my cell phone bill.

While hashtags were originally made famous by Twitter, they’re now used on many major social networks, including Facebook and Instagram. Let’s explore what a hashtag is, why they’re so great, and how they work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What Does ‘Hashtag’ Mean?

A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front of it. For example, #InboundChat and #ChocolateLovers are both hashtags.

You can put these hashtags anywhere in your social media posts: in the beginning, at the end, or anywhere in between. (Read this blog post for more instructions on using hashtags.)

These hashtags tie public conversations from all different users into a single stream, which you can find by searching for a hashtag, clicking on one, or using a third-party monitoring tool like HubSpot’s Social Inbox. Note that, in order for a post with a hashtag to appear in anyone’s search, the post must be public.

What Makes Hashtags So Great?

Back in 2007 when hashtags were a brand new concept, Google’s Chris Messina realized the value of hashtags right away. He wrote that the “channel” concept of hashtags satisfies many of the things group discussions do, but without inheriting the “unnecessary management cruft” that most group systems suffer from.

In addition, Messina wrote that they’re easily accessible with the syntax on Twitter (and now on other social media networks), easy to learn, flexible, and works with current user behavior instead of forcing anyone to learn anything radically new. It also works consistently on cell phones — whereas, for example, the star key doesn’t.

Almost a decade later, the hashtag continues to thrive. When used properly, hashtags are a great way for individuals and brands to make their social posts more visible and increase engagement. They can give people useful context and cues for recall, aggregate posts and images together, and update a group of like-minded individuals on certain a topic in real time.

Hashtags are often used to unite conversations around things like …

  • Events or conferences, like #INBOUND16 or #SB50
  • Disasters or emergencies, like #JeSuisCharlie or #PrayForHaiti)
  • Holidays or celebrations, like #WorldNutellaDay or #OneHaleOfAWedding
  • General interest topics, like #WinterWonderland or #ChocolateLovers
  • Popular hashtags, like #tbt or #MotivationMonday

The key is to use hashtags sparingly and only when they add value. Use them too much, and they can be confusing, frustrating, and just plain annoying. 

How Hashtags Work On Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Click on a social network below to jump to that section:

  1. How Hashtags Work on Twitter
  2. How Hashtags Work on Facebook
  3. How Hashtags Work on Instagram

1) How Hashtags Work on Twitter

A Twitter hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream. If Twitter users who aren’t otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream.

Here’s what a hashtag stream on Twitter looks like — we’ll use #WorldNutellaDay as an example:

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Most of the good stuff takes place in the center of this page. For the hashtag #WorldNutellaDay, you’ll see there are a few ways to toggle the hashtag stream: Top (the default), Live, News, Photos, Videos, and More Options.

  • Top: A stream of tweets using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement — which usually means tweets from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers. (Download our guide on how to get 1,000+ Twitter followers here.)
  • Live: A live stream of tweets from everyone tweeting out that hashtag.
  • News: A live stream of tweets from publishers and other designated news sources.
  • Photos: A collage of photos included in tweets that use the hashtag. When you hover your mouse over a photo, you can reply, retweet, or Like the tweet with just one click. You can open the tweet by clicking on the photo.

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  • Videos: A stream of tweets using the hashtag that have videos in them.
  • More Options: A dropdown menu that has a few great options to pick from, including “From people you follow” and “Near you.” You can also save your search here by clicking “Save this search.” To access it later, simply click into the search box on the top right of your Twitter home screen and it’ll appear as a saved search.

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On the left-hand side of the screen on the #WorldNutellaDay stream, you’ll find “Related searches.” This is especially useful if you’re looking for unofficial hashtags for your own events and campaigns and others’.

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Finally, on the right-hand side, you’ll find “Related articles.” Here’s where Twitter pulls in the most recent, popular articles on the topic from its partner publishers. You can view more articles about the topic by clicking “View all.”

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How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

Want to get involved in the conversation, or even start your own? Using a hashtag on Twitter is as simple as publishing a tweet from a public account that includes the hashtag, like this:

Or this:

As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet.

How to Find Hashtags on Twitter

There are a few ways to find hashtags on Twitter. If you already know the hashtag you want to search for, there are four main ways to search for it: a simple search, an advanced search, monitoring using a third-party tool, or typing it directly into the URL.

You can do a simple search using the search box in the top right-hand corner of your screen:

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If you’re searching for a hashtag but want to include more details in your search, try Twitter’s Advanced Search. Here, you can search for tweets with specific words and phrases, written in a certain language, from certain accounts, near certain locations, published on certain dates, and even containing smiley 🙂 or frowny 🙁 faces.

For example, if I wanted to search for the sad #WorldNutellaDay tweets, I might search for the WorldNutellaDay hashtag with a frowny face, like so:

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The results show up in a stream with different toggle options, just like our original hashtag search. (These people need to go get some Nutella!)

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You can also use a third-party monitoring tool like HubSpot’s Social Inbox to monitor certain hashtags. These tools will put certain hashtags in a stream beside any other streams you’ve set up in the tool already.

(HubSpot customers: To set up a stream in Social Inbox, click Social > Monitoring > “+” and enter the name of the hashtag you’d like to monitor. Click here for detailed instructions on how to create monitoring streams.)

Finally, you can search for a hashtag by typing it directly into a URL like so: twitter.com/InsertHashtagHere. So #WorldNutellaDay can be found at twitter.com/#WorldNutellaDay.

If you’re searching for popular hashtags from scratch, the best place to look is the trending topics bar on the left-hand side of your homescreen. Popular hashtagged words often become trending topics — which are topics so many people are talking about that they are a “trend.” Oh look, #WorldNutellaDay is on there!

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By default, Twitter tailors these trending topics to you based on your location and whom you follow. If you want to change the location Twitter uses to tailor your trends, you can do so by clicking “Change” to the right of “Trends.” In the window that appears, click “Change” again, and then enter in the location information you’d like Twitter to use instead.

Twitter’s native “trending topics” is limited to only a few hashtags, so if you want to find more outside of trending topics and you don’t know what to search for, consider using Advanced Search to browse tweets, or a third-party application like Trendsmap.

Twitter Chat Hashtags

Along with hashtags for events, campaigns, and promotions, there are these unique things on Twitter called Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are live Q&A sessions organized around a hashtag — either on the fly, or at a pre-arranged time.

I like how Buffer explains them: “Imagine a business networking event — but without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar. The same social customs apply — courtesy and respect — and it’s a great way to meet new people with similar interests.”

There are Twitter Chats about pretty much everything, from marketing to personal finance to affinities for cats.

If you’re looking for Twitter chats to engage in, check out TweetReports’ Twitter Chat Schedule, which you can toggle by date, hashtag, and topics like writing, social media, and so on. You can also submit your own Twitter chats to be considered. 

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2) How Hashtags Work on Facebook

Like on Twitter, a Facebook hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream. But unlike Twitter and Instagram, where many people have public accounts and their posts can be seen by anyone, most people’s Facebook posts and accounts are private. This means that even if individuals are using hashtags, they aren’t searchable. The result? The hashtags you can search for on Facebook tend to be published by influencers, brands, and publishers, rather than by individuals. 

Here’s what a hashtag stream on Facebook looks like, using #WorldNutellaDay as an example:

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Most of the good stuff takes place in the center of this page. For the hashtag #WorldNutellaDay, you’ll see there are a whole bunch of ways to toggle the hashtag stream — even more than we have on Twitter: Top (the default), Latest, Photos, Videos, Pages, People, Places, Groups, Apps, and Events.

  • Top: A stream of Facebook posts using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement — which usually means tweets from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers. In this case, a video from the brand Nutella itself garnered the most engagement and got a top seat.
  • Latest: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag, usually by influencers, brands, or publishers — like a food blogger posting a tutorial on how to make a Nutella hazelnut cake for #WorldNutellaDay.
  • Photos: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag that have photos in them.
  • Videos: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag that have videos in them.

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  • Pages: Pages on Facebook that are officially associated with the hashtag.
  • People: People on Facebook with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #WorldNutellaDay, there are no results here.
  • Places: Places in the world with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #WorldNutellaDay, there are no results here.
  • Groups: Groups with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
  • Apps: Facebook apps with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
  • Events: Faceook events with a name officially associated with the hashtag.

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How to Use Hashtags on Facebook

To use a hashtag on Facebook, all you have to do is publish a Facebook post to your Page or timeline that includes the hashtag.

Be sure your post is public if you want people other than your Facebook friends to be able to find it. To make a Facebook post public, click on the button to the right of “Post” and choose “Public” from the dropdown menu.

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Once you publish the post to your Page or timeline, the hashtag becomes a clickable link, which takes folks to the hashtag page. Here’s what a Facebook post with a hashtag looks like:

 

It’s #WorldNutellaDay (and that’s a day we can get on board with).

Posted by
Woman and Home Magazine on 
Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Find Hashtags on Facebook

If you already know the hashtag you want to search for, there are two main ways to search for it: a simple search or by typing it directly into the URL.

You can do a simple search using the search box in the top left-hand corner of your screen:

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You can also search for a hashtag by typing it directly into a URL like so: http://ift.tt/1v4E0kWInsertHashtagHere. So #WorldNutellaDay can be found at http://ift.tt/1RhLC23WorldNutellaDay.

If you’re searching for popular hashtags from scratch, the best place to look is the trending topics bar on the left-hand side of your homescreen. (Note: This is currently only available in English in select countries.) The articles and hashtags Facebook shows you are based on a number of different factors, including engagement, timeliness, pages you’ve Liked, and your location.

While most trending topics on Twitter are hashtags, this is much less the case on Facebook. You’ll see only one trending topic below is actually a hashtag (#DemDebate):

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3) How Hashtags Work on Instagram

An Instagram hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream, just like on Twitter and Facebook. If Instagram users who aren’t otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream.

Here’s what a hashtag stream on Instagram looks like — again, using #WorldNutellaDay as an example:

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Notice the user interface on Instagram’s hashtag stream is much simpler than those on Twitter and Facebook. There are three things you can do from this page: Scroll through related hashtags, look at the Top Posts, and browse Recent Posts.

  • Related Hashtags: All related hashtags (like #nutellalover, #nutellaaddict, #nutellabread, etc. in this case), which users can scroll through sideways.
  • Top Posts: The nine posts using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement — which usually means tweets from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers. This is limited to nine posts.
  • Recent Posts: A live stream of Instagram posts from everyone posting that hashtag.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Want to get involved in the conversation, or even start your own? Using a hashtag on Instagram is as simple as publishing an Instagram post from a public account that includes the hashtag, like this:

Or this:

As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Instagram post.

When you write a new post and start typing in a hashtag using the # symbol, Instagram will actually suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity. Check out the suggestions I got when I typed in the incomplete hashtag, #WorldNutel:

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How to Find Hashtags on Instagram

If you already know the hashtag you want to search for, the only way to search for a hashtag on Instagram on your mobile device is through a simple search. You can do a simple search by clicking the magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen, which brings you to the “Explore” tab. From there, type the hashtag name into the search box at the top of your screen, and toggle your results by “Tags”:

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If you’re searching for popular hashtags from scratch, the best place to look is in Instagram’s “Explore” tab. Here, you’ll find popular hashtags as well as posts liked by people whose posts you’ve Liked, or posts that are Liked by a large number of people in the Instagram community.

To explore these hashtags, go to the “Explore” tab by clicking that magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen. Check out the “Trending” section to browse trending hashtags either by scrolling sideways or clicking “See all.”

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What About Using Hashtags “in the Wild”?

Although hashtags were born and work best online, you can point people to them in real life. Try placing hashtags in relevant and well trafficked public locations — like in pictures or posters, menus, stickers, and so on — to encourage people to search for that hashtag online.

What other hashtag tips do you have for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? Share with us in the comments.

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The Typography Trends Every Marketer Should Have on Their Radar [Infographic]

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Just like an awesome photo or graphic can really make your design stand out, so can the right font. But the wrong font can also make your design stand out … in a bad way. If you’ve ever seen a design with really out-of-date typography, you know what I mean.

But what makes a font or typography design out-of-date? What’s “in” right now? Whether you’re designing a one-off project or you’re a seasoned designer, it’s important to stay on top of typography trends so your work looks and feels current.

Check out the infographic below from ThinkDesign to learn about the typography trends in 2016, from retro and handwritten fonts to mixing and matching typefaces, to the roles transitional effects and animation could play in your marketing. (And download our free do-it-yourself design guide here for tips about how to use fonts in your content and web designs.)

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Introducing HubSpot’s New Research Hub: Your Go-To Source for Marketing, Sales & Business Data

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On our path to embracing a new era of marketing and sales, HubSpot discovered something important. Relevant data is the heartbeat of good inbound marketing and sales. In order to make sure we stay on top of trends, information and the goals of our customers, we decided to launch HubSpot Research.

The goal is simple: we have analysts and contributors gather data and create thought leadership that ultimately helps people transform their businesses for the better. All business professionals need high quality data in order to make strategic decisions, and we want to share what we’ve gathered. Below are a few of my thoughts on why it’s so important to make our research available.

Why We’re Making Our Research Available to Everyone

1) All companies should have the resources they need to make strategic decisions.

Information is more valuable than ever. Marketing, sales, and business professionals need high-quality, data-backed findings regardless of their budget. HubSpot Research brings people quality information free of charge, ensuring that all companies have the right resources to make strategic decisions.

Traditionally, smaller companies are at a disadvantage if they are unable to pay for research reports or conduct large-scale surveys. By making our findings free for all, we’re ensuring that all professionals are on an equal playing field.

2) Actionable insights can change the way we build strategies and plan for the future. 

What makes information so valuable? Insights into market trends can inform not only how you optimize your efforts today, but also help you better plan for the next big thing. For example, our most recent research report on advertising revealed that the majority of consumers have grown accustomed to ads, but very few people have a positive opinion of them. Unsurprisingly, telemarketing calls are the least popular, but knowing that newsletters are, by and large, viewed favorably can help people invest in interesting vehicles for content.

There’s no need to make blind decisions when data on customer usage and market trends is readily available. By launching HubSpot Research, we are bringing our insights to the surface so everyone can take advantage of them.

3) Informed teams provide better experiences.

As I mentioned before, high-quality data is key to inbound marketing and sales. At its core, inbound is about creating a better experience for everyone — including the buyer. The only way to build a remarkable interaction is to have an informed, human connection with the person on the other end. For instance, our new ads report shows that most consumers will actively leave a website if they encounter a pop-up ad or auto-playing video. Knowing this reinforces what many inbound marketers instinctively know: the only way to attract picky buyers is by providing them with relevant information, not chasing them down while they browse the web.

By incorporating relevant data such as this into inbound efforts, marketers and salespeople ensure that they’re optimizing their team’s time. At the same time, they can be confident that they’re approaching buyers in the way they want to be approached, with information that they will find most useful. HubSpot Research looks to solve an old problem: instead of guessing and checking, marketers and salespeople can now use data to make informed inbound decisions the first time around.

As we continue to expand our offerings and efforts, we’re excited to bring the best insights forward for everyone to use through our new HubSpot Research platform. Data is a critical component of smart inbound marketing and sales strategies, and we can’t wait to see how these insights can help transform businesses and people for the better.

Interested? Check out our new HubSpot Research platform today.

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12 Sneaky Psychological Biases That Affect How You Sell

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This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

Have you ever seen a basketball team abruptly go ice-cold during a game? Out of nowhere, they’ve missed 13 straight shots and are down by 20 points. As the team heads down the floor for their next possession, you think to yourself, “This time they have to score. They’re due.”

In reality, the team isn’t more likely to make the next basket if they’ve missed the last 13. You’ve just succumbed to gambler’s fallacy: Thinking things in life will average out.

Our minds are naturally prone to these kinds of biases. And depending on the field you’re in, certain inclinations can play a huge role in your overall success. In sales, biases can be a rep’s worst nightmare. They can lead a rep to jump to inaccurate conclusions about a prospect or themselves, resulting in a lost deal.

Recognizing that we all have unique biases is the key to overcoming their potential negative effects. Below are 12 psychological biases we’re all susceptible to and how they affect salespeople.

12 Psychological Biases Affecting How You Sell

1) Anchoring Bias

Anchoring bias is our tendency to overemphasize the first piece of information we learn by using it as our criteria to make a decision. 

If a salesperson latches on to the first pain point a prospect mentions and believes it’s a higher priority than anything they learn afterwards, they’ve fallen victim to anchoring bias. The first pain point a prospect raises might not be the most important. While reps should always solve for the customer, solving a low-priority problem isn’t enough to close a deal.

Reps should spend time learning as much as they can about prospects through research and thorough discovery. Salespeople can’t provide prospects with valuable advice unless they have an accurate understanding of their prospect’s goals and pain points.

2) Hyperbolic Discounting

In a scenario where people are given the choice between two similar rewards, we tend to value the one that arrives sooner. For example, if you were offered $20 now or $30 in two months, you would likely prefer the $20 now.

Salespeople often take advantage of this bias through hyperbolic discounting — slashing the price to influence a decision and reach their quota faster instead of planning for the long-term and working on the prospect’s timeline. 

Although it’s tempting to offer a discount just to get a deal signed earlier, reps should prioritize the long-term benefits of the relationship. Customers who are loyal for years are much more valuable than a prospect who churns after a few months. 

3) Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is interpreting information in a way that confirms what you already believe. 

Sales reps can fall victim to this bias if they ask prospects loaded questions because they’re in search of a specific answer. For example, if a rep thinks a prospect could benefit from new onboarding software, they might ask, “Would you like to get your new employees producing better results, faster?” Of course the answer is yes, but that doesn’t confirm the prospect needs new onboarding software. 

While it’s helpful to have research-backed assumptions prior to talking to a prospect, reps need to remember to be open to new information and be ready to admit their educated guess might be incorrect. 

4) Clustering Illusion

When you notice a pattern in a completely random series of events, you’ve fallen for the clustering illusion.

This happens in sales when a rep has success with a few prospects using a specific selling strategy, so they use that technique in every sale going forward. This bias is likely how the sales script came to life: If it worked with one prospect, the thinking goes, it will work with all of them.

While a pattern of success with a few prospects is great, it shouldn’t drastically influence how you approach every prospect going forward. Having a one-size-fits-all mentality will result in more lost prospects than won deals. Keeping each outreach personal and specific allows reps to connect with prospects in a genuine way, and provide significant value. 

5) Planning Fallacy

The planning fallacy occurs when you drastically underestimate how much time you need to complete a task.

When a call goes well after a salesperson does limited work prior to picking up the phone, they can fall into the trap of thinking this is all the time they need to be successful. The planning fallacy seduces reps into doing the minimum amount of work while still expecting good results.

Providing yourself ample time for tasks is key to success. Instead of doing the minimum and believing you’ll see maximum results, you should set aside a significant amount of time for every task to ensure you’re doing the best job possible.

6) Curse of Knowledge 

The curse of knowledge is when you’re unable to relate to an uninformed person’s problems, because you have better information. 

Sales reps who know their product can benefit a prospect might fall prey to this bias by dismissing a prospect’s objections because of their expertise. Instead of listening to objections and taking time to explain points of confusion, this bias causes reps to revert to, “But it works! Trust me!”

Instead of insisting that the product addresses their prospect’s concern, salespeople need to act as trusted advisors. Reps can handle objections through sound reasoning, customer reviews, and testimonials, but the key is education. If your prospects are still asking questions disguised as objections, they don’t understand your product’s value well enough.. The prospect isn’t interested in whether the product works, they want to know how it will work for them.

7) Galatea Effect

The Galatea effect states if you believe you’re going to be a top performer, you’ll actually become one because of that mindset. 

The Galatea effect rears its head when a rep believes they were solely responsible for winning — or losing — a deal. After a deal goes bad, a rep can start to question their skills, which can lead to worse performance. On the other hand, if a call goes well, a confidence boost can be the foundation for a hot streak.

To overcome this bias, reps should examine every factor in each call and listen to coaching from their manager to remain objective. While the rep does play a major role in the decision, many other factors influence a prospects choice to buy or not. 

8) Choice Bias

The choice bias leads us to retroactively view our past choices in a positive light while overemphasizing negative attributes of options we didn’t select.

In sales, choice bias impacts your response to making a mistake. If a prospect turns out to be a bad fit, the bias influences the speed at which you come to terms with the mistake. It also protects you from being too hard on yourself, because you’re likely to remember the positives and look past the negatives. 

In order to be successful, make sure to pay attention to all relevant emerging information. Instead of assuming every decision you make is great, recognize when things haven’t gone the way you expected. Learning from your mistakes is a powerful tool.

9) Recency Bias

Recency bias is the tendency to believe patterns that have recently emerged are likely to continue in the future even if they contradict long-term data.

If a rep notices commonalities in their last five deals and abandons time-tested strategies, they’ve fallen for the recency bias. New data is exciting, but it could be an outlier. A larger sample size — the rep’s history over several months — is likely to be more accurate.

If the commonalities continue over time, however, reps should use these new insights in sales conversations going forward. Gut decisions have no place in modern sales; the data should speak for itself.

10) Gambler’s Fallacy

The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that an event is less likely in the future because it’s happening often in the present, even if the outcome of one event has no statistical impact on future ones.

After a rep has four or five bad calls, they might think their next one will go better because things will average out. But they’ve failed to realize that their previous calls have no impact on their upcoming one. 

This bias is dangerous because it can cause salespeople to expect their luck to change without any behavioral changes on their part. Reps can avoid this by digging deeper to understand why calls went poorly, and adjusting their strategy accordingly. Instead of trying the same thing over and over, changing tactics can put an end to the bad streak.

11) Hot Hand Fallacy

The inverse of the gambler’s fallacy is the hot hand fallacy — the mistaken belief that if you succeed (or fail) at a random event in the present, you’re likely to have more success (or failure) in the future because of it. 

When a rep closes several deals in a row and concludes that every call he makes going forward will be easy, he’s succumbed to the hot hand fallacy. These deals are closing because of hard work put in over the last few weeks, not because the rep is “heating up.”

Ultimately, it’s sales fundamentals that affect a rep’s success. Prospects convert because of hard work, research, and a great relationship, not because the rep is on a hot streak. 

12) Empathy Gap

The empathy gap is a phenomenon where we have difficulty putting ourselves in other people’s shoes if we aren’t currently in the same physical or emotional state — for example, if we are angry, we have a hard time understanding how others could be happy.

When reps and prospects are in completely different states of mind, reps need to be hyper-conscious of putting themselves in their prospect’s shoes instead of dismissing or minimizing their feelings. The empathy gap makes it more difficult for them to reach common ground, and can create disdain between the rep and prospect, souring the relationship before it even begins.

Ultimately, we don’t know which biases we have and how they’re affecting our behavior at any given moment. But we can learn to identify bias and adjust our behavior accordingly. Sales can be a highly emotional job — staying level-headed is part of being successful.  

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The Rebel’s Guide to Design: 16 Rules You Can (And Should) Break [SlideShare]

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This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.

Don’t use more than three typefaces. Follow a grid. Keep it simple. 

You’ve heard these common design rules repeated over and over again — by your teacher, your art director, and even that friend who uses Microsoft paint to design his band posters.

But adhering to the rules doesn’t always leave room for creative inspiration. As David Ogilvy said, “Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.”

In marketing and advertising, we value those who are willing to challenge the norm and question the how — the creatives who discover a novel solution by ignoring the brief and looking at the problem in a completely new way.

But you can only break the rules if you know the rules. 

DesignMantic created the below SlideShare outlining the typical rules followed in design and why you should consider breaking them this year. Check it out to learn how exactly you can become a more rebellious designer.

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Amazon to Open Physical Stores?

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Every news outlet in the world is telling Amazon that they’re doing this ecommerce thing all wrong. What started as an online bookseller ballooned into the largest e-tailer in the world, with every so much more available than books. Such prodigious growth both inspired and disgusted everyone who watched. And now they want to take it all back to where they began: books.

What’s the Story? 

If you haven’t yet heard, Amazon “plans” to open three hundred brick-and-mortar bookstores throughout the United States and, ostensibly, several other countries. They already did a little test drive, with one store opened in November of 2015. The promise is that they’ll offer the books for the same price in-store as they do online. The current store also provides that valuable social proof in the form of reviews, with printed cards sharing some of the best and worst to help buyers decide.

Really, it’s as close to an online experience as any brick-and-mortar store could give. And since Amazon is the king of online sales, why shouldn’t they try their hands at in-person sales and service?

Who’s Laughing?

Of course, the media reporting the story are also laughing, because didn’t Amazon put all those brick-and-mortar stores out of business? Everything from the giant Borders to the neighborhood bookshop suffered as more and more shoppers turned to ecommerce. And now Amazon wants to open their own stores? Well, it’s definitely amusing, though probably not to Barnes and Noble, the lone super-bookstore holdout.

So, yes, the idea of this ecommerce giant—which, by the way, thanks books for only 7% of their yearly revenue—leaving the online realm and opening hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores is a bit surreal. Like Alice through the looking glass. Why invest so much for something that only brings in $5.25 billion of their $75 billion yearly revenue?

Maybe Amazon’s Laughing

As this blogger was quick to point out, Amazon has essentially denied the claims that 300 stores are on the way. The official word was that reports are “misleading.” And still the press churns out all this wonderful publicity, much like they did when Amazon announced they’d be using drones for delivery.

Actually, maybe that’s the whole point. Whether Amazon opens one store or three hundred, we’re all talking about them again. Whatever the outcome, whatever the actual plan, Amazon sure did get a lot of people talking. And in the world of sales—both online and in stores—that’s pure gold. 

What do you think? If those three hundred stores come to pass, will you be there with bells on to buy your books? Or is it all just an elaborate plan for more publicity? 

Learn to grow your ecommerce business with these guides.

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