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Why “I want to get on Buzzfeed!” is replacing “I want to be on Oprah!”

A friend and colleague of mine posted the following on Facebook last Friday:

“Potential new client just said this: Magazines are great but we really want to have online coverage. Magazines have a short life span and everyone is reading news online nowadays and it lives forever. Please focus on that.”

Did that just happen? Are clients really now preferring placements in Buzzfeed, Mashable and other online “publications” rather than more traditional outlets like The New York Times, USA Today and Good Morning America?


The tide may have shifted more than you think.

I have no hard data evidence to back this up, mind you, but I believe more clients ARE thinking this way.

Here’s why:

Online placements = more shareable

Goes without saying, right? A quick click, and readers can share online placements with thousands of friends and family. Pretty tough to share an article in the most recent hard copy of Shape Magazine. I mean, unless you plan on cutting it out and sending it to a friend via U.S. Mail (which, I have done in the not-so-distant past!).

Online placements = more searchable

Interesting post over on Jay Baer’s blog got me thinking more about this. How, in a simple search for Google’s recent Alphabet news, more “op-ed” blog-post like posts came up on page one vs. hard news stories from major mainstream media outlets. Online placements in non-traditional outlets like Buzzfeed and ReadWriteWeb are inherently more searchable than mainstream news articles. Weird–but, may prove to be true.

Online placements = better traffic drivers

Sure, having your brand on Good Morning America is going to drive a spike in awareness for your brand. No question there. But, it’s just that. A spike. And, worse yet, it’s usually a spike that’s tough to measure. And, a spike that may or may not result in sales and traffic to your web properties. At least with an online placement, you have a better chance of generating that traffic via links and other items (bios, if it’s a bylined article, for example).

Online placements = More credibility (believe it or not)

Think about today’s Millennial. They don’t watch Good Morning America. Hell, they’ve probably never heard of GMA! And, hard copy magazines? They’ve never opened one. But, Buzzfeed? Yeah, they read that. Snapchat? They may use the Discover feature to access news. Report after report has shown us Millennials aren’t accessing traditional media as much as their Gen Y and Gen X colleagues. So, if you’re targeting a younger audience, an article in the USA Today might not mean nearly as much as an article in Buzzfeed. Yes, I just wrote that sentence.

photo credit: P1100934 via photopin (license)

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Why are influencers still not disclosing paid relationship? (and why brands should really care)

It’s 2015, and we’re still seeing posts like this:

IG sponsor 1

Big deal, you say. Seems like a perfectly innocuous Instagram post by an “influencer” to me, right?

Let’s look a little closer. While this post doesn’t seem to clearly be affiliated with a sponsor or brand, what about this one?

IG sponsor 2

Now, I can’t say this influencer is getting paid for this post. But the signs lead me to believe otherwise:

  • The same images show up in both posts. Curious.
  • The influencer calls out @Applegate by name. Curious.
  • Both posts include the same Honest Kids drink.

Now, those could be coincidences. Maybe this influencer is just really excited about kids lunches and likes calling out brands by name.

But I’m not buying it.

I think this influencer is getting paid for these posts.

And, they’re not disclosing.

She’s hardly alone.

Here’s another example.

IG sponsor 10

More red flags:

  • Um, you can see the Chevy folks (presumably) taking video of her in one of the shots!
  • Using #grateful in the post – wonder what you’re grateful for!

And one last example:

IG sponsor 4

More red flags:

  • Again, the influencer uses the brand handle. Curious.
  • The influencer also calls out the product by its exact name. Curious.

Now again, could be a coincidence. But again, I highly doubt it.

Another influencer post. Another failure to disclose.

It’s all too common. And, as much as the influencers are at fault, it’s the brands that are going to be financially penalized if they’re caught.

In case you didn’t notice the FTC recently amended its FAQ page earlier this year to include a slew of common questions and answers. The message: You’re on notice, brand folks.

So, what’s a brand marketer to do?

Let’s use the following example and assume you were the marketer working for @Candelles below.

IG sponsor 5

First, make sure to be clear about disclosures from the very beginning.

Once you consummate the relationship financially, that’s a good time to start discussing disclosures with an influencer.

Remember, disclosure doesn’t have to be complicated.

In this case, a simple #Sponsored would have done the trick in this post. Other options: #ad #partnership #parter #client

Make sure you make your request to the influencer in writing.

Get it in an email. Get it in multiple emails. And make sure you save those emails. That’s your paper trail if the FTC comes calling.

Don’t just ask–follow up with the influencer

It’s not just enough to get your request in writing to the influencer (although that’s a damn good start). Follow up and ask the influencer to disclose. In this case, I would have sent an email the second after I saw this post to the influencer, asking them to amend the post to include #Sponsor somewhere in it.

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Why are we punishing our senior leaders by sticking them in meetings 7-8 hours a day?

Back when I worked on the corporate side, I distinctly remember trying to get on my boss’ calendar.

It was impossible.

Why? Because she was booked with back-to-back meetings all day long. Double-booked, in fact.



Her story is hardly an uncommon one.

Many of my big corporate clients today face the same dilemma.

Meetings from 7:30 a.m. til 5:30 p.m.

Every day.

Every week.

(Note: You think the photo above is a joke? I’ve actually been in corporate meetings with this many people. Unbelievable)

Why are we hamstringing our leaders like this?

Consider the dilemma our leaders face:

  • They’re booked in meeting the majority of every day, leaving very little time to see or manage the teams they oversee.
  • They’re booked in meetings the majority of every day, leaving very little time to do any work.
  • They’re booked in meetings the majority of every day, leaving very little time to do any professional development, helping them stay ahead of the curve and competitive with other senior leaders.

Why are we doing this?

And, by the way, while we’re on the topic, how many of these meetings are truly worth their time?

Again, based on my previous corporate experience, I’d say half at most. The rest of the meetings could easily be done inside of 10 minutes with a viable agenda. But, that’s probably a different rant for a different blog post.

For now, I have a few pieces of advice to shrink the number of meetings each day–and ideas on how to feel more invigorated and refreshed from day-to-day:

Ask: Do we really need to meet?

This is the obvious tip, but it bears repeating. Do you really need to meet? If it’s just a status update or check-in, can you do it virtually via email?

Ask: Can we shorten the meeting by half?

Could your hour-long meeting be shorted to half hour? Probably. Which means you need an agenda–and you need to stay on task. Do both and you’ll be surprised how efficient you can be with your meetings.

No more meetings longer than one hour

If you’re scheduling a meeting that’s longer than one hour, you need to do more work in advance of the meeting. No one needs to meet for 2, 3 or 4 hours at a time. No one. I have yet to be convinced.

Block your calendar for desk time

This is a trick I learned early on in my career. And, I noticed a lot of the savvy execs did the same thing. Blocking an hour here and an hour here for “desk time” to plow through email and respond to urgent requests, or get things done that are on deadline.

Carve out five hours a month for professional development

Everyone has five hours a month. Especially for professional development. This should include: coffees with colleagues, local meet-ups (our new MIMA Meet-Ups are getting rave reviews!), local programming (resisting the urge to plug MIMA here, too!) and other educational or training-based events. If YOU don’t make time for your professional development–no one else will. Let me repeat that in all caps so you get the point: IF YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT–NO ONE ELSE WILL. Got it?

photo credit: Decommissioning Safety Standards (02010081) via photopin (license)


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Talking Points Podcast: A Conversation with United Health Group’s Bryan Vincent

In this edition of the Talking Points Podcast, Kevin and I sit down with Bryan Vincent, director of digital communications at United Health Group and talk LinkedIn, the recent Mayo Clinic/Minneapolis Star Tribune partnership, MIMA Summit and a little Packers/Vikings football.


SHOW NOTES – October 1, 2015

Bryan Vincent


2015 MIMA Summit


“Why do big brands continue to completely ignore LinkedIn?”


SPOTLIGHT: “Mayo, Star Tribune form content partnership”


“Case study: Social media engagement as a point of differentiation”


“How the Blog Post Op-Ed is Changing News”




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Why do big brands continue to completely ignore LinkedIn?

Ok, so the headline might be a little provocative, but the more I think about it, the more I think many big brands continue to under-utilize one of the more effective and useful social networks on the web today.

What am I talking about?

Think about these three questions:

Why do brands continue to use LinkedIn solely to promote jobs?

Fairview LI

Posts like the one above from Fairview are all too common on LinkedIn. Which, for the most part, is OK. After all, LinkedIn is THE network people visit to find jobs, right? But, a steady stream of this kind of thing? That’s a different story entirely. And, we see more of that than most of us would like to admit. Strike one, brands. Instead, too many brands continue to ignore the networking and thought leadership opportunities LinkedIn presents–see below.

Why do executives refuse to complete their LinkedIn profiles?

I did a bit of quick research on one local Minneapolis company: Medtronic. When I reviewed the LinkedIn profiles of their top executives, here’s what I found:

Bryan Hanson LinkedIn


And this (at least Mr. Coyle has a pic!):

Mike Coyle LinkedIn

What’s more, I looked up Medtronic CEO, Omar Ishrak on LinkedIn. Here’s what I found:

Omar Ishrak LinkedIn

The CEO of one of the top med tech firms in the world doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile. Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. Many exec profiles are either non-existent or literally non-existent.–Mr. Ishrak is far from alone. And why? Because execs don’t need LinkedIn–at least, that’s my guess. They don’t find their jobs through LinkedIn. They don’t network there. They don’t learn there. They simply don’t use it. But, you know who does use it? EVERYONE ELSE! Lets start a list: Employees are no doubt aware of exec profiles on LinkedIn. What do you think their impression is of an exec with an incomplete profile? Or, what about job seekers? What do you think they’re doing when they research a company while going through the hiring process? Of course they’re looking at exec profiles on LinkedIn. Execs may not need LinkedIn “professionally”, but from a business POV, I would argue they do. It’s time they get the hint.

Why do brands continue to under-utilize one of the most under-rated tools in all of social media–LinkedIn Publishing?

The most under-utilized tool in content today? Without question, it’s the LinkedIn publishing tool. Once reserved for LinkedIn’s “influencers”, now anyone can use the free tool. It’s the equivalent of having a free blogging tool at your disposal–but one that reaches all your professional connections! Sure, there are “influencers” like Conan O’Brien, Richard Branson and Southwest Air CEO, Gary Kelly using LinkedIn publishing and seeing great results. But, other leaders who aren’t “influencers” are using it, too, and seeing success. Leaders like Jack Salzwedel. I blogged about Mr. Salzwedel’s social involvement earlier this year. LinkedIn publishing is a big part of it. He uses it to connect with all sorts of audiences–employees, vendors, agents. You name it. How is he so effective? Because very, very few of his C-level peers are using LinkedIn publishing. It’s easier to cut through the clutter when no one else is doing it.

Jack Salz LI

Or, what about leaders who have used their LinkedIn profiles in times of crisis to communicate with employees and external stakeholders. Remember the Target culture kerfuffle of 2014? I blogged about it here. Target CMO, Jeff Jones, used his personal LinkedIn profile to publish Target’s version of the story. That was the ONLY place they told the story and shared the message. We haven’t seen too many execs take this path since Jones’ post last year, but I still believe LinkedIn publishing gives execs a great tool to do just that–in a way that’s a bit more personal, honest and open than other forms of communication.

Jeff Jones LI

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