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Our Curated Lives


gary low res resized 600

Like it or not, our lives are curated. Yet some businesses believe they must rely only on content they’ve created themselves. 

Walking down the aisles of my local supermarket the other day, it occurred to me that when it comes to groceries, the grocer plays a role similar to Google. In the grocery store, it is all about shelf placement – the prime middle spaces on the shelves are more likely to attract buyers than the bottom shelves. And the grocer demands extra merchandising fees for this prime real estate.  In Google’s case, prime placement is at the top of the search results – and getting on the top is determined by who pays Google the most through SEO or Google Adwords. Both require pay-to-play – one for groceries, the other for content – and both are curators who are influencing buyer behavior to optimize their businesses.  Nothing wrong with that – it is free enterprise in the most basic form.  But it is worth considering how fundamental curation is in our daily lives.

Curation is critical because we are faced with a virtually endless list of choices – whether for canned soup, toothpaste, video clips, or news reports. Someone – or something – must put order in this chaos, whether it is your supermarket’s merchandising manager or Google’s content placement algorithms. Consider a museum, where a curator decides which small fraction of the museum’s countless artifacts will be displayed for public viewing. Or the librarian, deciding which of the millions of books in print will occupy the library’s precious shelf space. Often the curation comes with annotation – in the museum, annotation is obvious, as the staff goes to great lengths to explain why the pieces that they have chosen to display is important.  Or the local book store, where often we see hand-written “staff picks,” intended to help the buyer purchase the right book.

Considering how fundamental curation and curators are in our daily lives, I find it curious that many businesses or brands insist on using only original content in communicating the intended messages to their prospective customers or constituents. This would be analogous to an art museum displaying only pieces that the museum contracted to have painted or sculpted.  Not only would this lack variety, and make for a pretty boring viewer experience, but the museum would lack credibility, being seen as parochial and biased in displaying only the works they commissioned.  As consumers, individual and business buyers want sufficent education to make the right choices.  We want to believe that those we are buying from are the experts in their fields – the authority – but also that they are unbiased at some level.  And to be unbiased, a business needs to supplement their own original content with respected third-party content – whether that third party content is Campbell’s soup as an alternative to the in-house brand – or a third party content in the form of a blog or research report relevant to a specific brand or product.

But as noted above, given these vast oceans of content we all swim in every day, how is a brand or business able to sift through all the noise and uncover third-party content that is truly relevant to the products they are promoting?  Trying to find it by searching is futile, for as noted above, Google will find what makes Google the most money – which is not necessarily the content you want.  And while social networks offer some spontaneity and serendipity, most of this content is recycled/re-tweeted, or re-posted from the same sources, creating a digital-social-content echo chamber.  And when unique or interesting content does fly across the Twitter feed, you’d better be there – for this information is ephemeral, with Twitter information half-lives measured in minutes.

So, no surprise, Trapit offers an answer. Trapit will do the heavy lifting, tapping into massive streams of real-time information, grabbing the pieces that are relevant to your business or product, to your brand or your people.  It serves up this content in an easily consumable display, allowing you or your team to continue the curation process Trapit has started by providing features to allow the section of media types (text, video, or both and, coming soon, audio content). Trapit allows curation capabilities like modifying the title, summary, or photo in the content synopsis, or adding your own value through annotation of the piece.  And once you’ve decided which content is ready to publish alongside your original material, Trapit provides the widest variety of distribution endpoints – be it your web site, mini-site, social networks, mobile devices, or select applications. Trapit even offers a custom-branded iPad application as the vehicle to reach your constituents with the right content at the right time.  And then Trapit proves the analytical capability that allows you to see which of your content is working – and that which is not.

In short, we live in a world of near constant curation. Trapit gives your business the power to curate – the tools you need to effectively and efficiently discover, curate,  and distribute credible information that will help influence your audience while building your reputation as the authority in your field. Curate with Trapit and don’t worry about paying for prime placement…you will stand out through the delivery of compelling content that captures the hearts and minds of your audience.

- Gary 

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Do People Read Your Content? 6 Facts about Reading Online


Do you ever wonder how much of your content people read?

When I first started blogging, I had nightmares about that question. In my recurring nightmare, my average visit duration was 0 seconds, and my bounce rate was 100%.

To ease my troubled mind, I decided to research how people read online. Here are a few facts that I've collected over the years…

1. The majority of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page.

The average visitor will spend less than 15 seconds on each page. The average visitor will read fewer than 62 words.

In his piece for, Tony Haile of Chartbeat noted that 55% of people spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page.

That's not a lot of time.

Now, take into account the fact that the average adult reads about 250 words per minute.

Which means that the majority of visitors will read fewer than 62 words on a webpage.

That's it.

So, does that mean that we need to write pithy posts like Seth Godin?

As you can see from this blog post, I am no Seth Godin. Don't worry, though. For the prattlers among us, there are other ways to make sure that readers will find the information that they need.

More on this in number 2 and number 4.

2. Visitors spend 2.6 seconds skimming a website before focusing on a specific section.

The average visitor spends 2.6 seconds skimming a web page before reading a specific sectionLet's face it. Many readers won't hang on our every word.

Instead, many readers will skim our content until they notice something that stands out to them. (Personally, I'm curious how many of you are reading this paragraph and how many of you are looking at the image to the right).

Luckily, there are some ways to direct your reader's gaze. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use numbered and bulleted lists
  • Use subheadings so that readers can find information easily
  • Use shorter, less intimidating paragraphs
  • Use bold, italics, or pops of color to highlight important information
  • Put important information in images. (More on this in number 4).

3. Most visitors will scroll through 60% of an article.

On, how far do people scroll down?

Image source

4. But most visitors will scroll through an entire page with photo and video content.

Most people will look at 60% of a web page. Most visitors will look at 100% of the visuals on a web page.Statistic #4 shouldn't surprise us. There's a reason why BuzzFeed is an extremely popular site. BuzzFeed readers want to scroll all the way to the bottom so that they can see every last animated gif.

The text-image-text-image strategy works for BuzzFeed, but that doesn't mean that you should copy BuzzFeed by filling your blog posts with whirly-twirly animated gifs. Your visuals have to be true to your brand and to its audience.

Gifs with pop culture references and adorable animals will work for some brands, but they will fall flat for others.

Similarly, posts chock-full of charts will work for some brands and their audiences, but they won't work for others.

Bottom line:

  1. Identify the types of visuals that appeal to your audience.
  2. Then, use those types of visuals to communicate important information.



5. People who share articles don't always read the articles.

We don't read the articles we share

Image source

We've heard the stats before.

Company XYZ's blog post was tweeted over 5,000 times!

Company 123's Facebook post was liked by over 3,000 people!

Those stats are great, but did anyone read the post? Or did Company 123's Facebook followers simply click "Like"?

Maybe an even better question is, Does Company 123 care if anyone reads its post?

The answer to that last question depends on a brand's marketing goals. Sometimes, a brand simply wants a lot of buzz. In that case, a ridiculously high number of social shares would be perfect for them.

But if a brand is looking for something else–say, deep relationships–then impressive social stats might not be the brand's target goal.

Nota bene: Some sites, like BuzzFeed, report a positive correlation between reading time and social sharing.

BuzzFeed reports a positive correlation between social sharing and read time.

6. Direct visitors are our most dedicated readers.

Direct visitors spend more time on a web site

The Pew Research Center did a study of the top 26 most popular news websites, and they found that direct visitors spend more time on news sites than Facebook visitors or search visitors.

Keep in mind that direct visitors to a news site tend to be loyal readers. They have memorized the news site's URL or have bookmarked the site, and they return to the site because they value that media outlet's perspective.

Why do direct visitors spend so much time on a news website?

Think about why each type of visitor goes to a webpage.

  • Search visitors are looking for something specific. Once search visitors find their answer, they bounce.
  • Facebook visitors likely clicked on a link in their newsfeed. In other words, they are on your site to read one specific article. Sure, they might see other links that look interesting. But eventually, they'll go back to Facebook to see what their friends are up to, and they'll stop themselves from falling farther and farther down your rabbit hole of content.
  • Direct visitors go to a news site because they have some kind of vested interest in the site's content. They want to read that particular site's take on current events.

In short, for news, direct visitors are the unicorns of web traffic. But are direct visitors the unicorns of content marketing?

That question still has to be answered by content marketers. But as the idea of "attention web" becomes hotter and hotter, my guess is that we will hear more and more about who is reading content, how long they are spending with that content, and whether read time has any correlation with conversion.


If you're trying to attract direct visitors, there are ways to make their lives easier. For instance, the ideal length of a domain name is 8 characters long.

Why? It's much easier to remember something like CNN versus something like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. 

Your take:

What techniques have you developed to attract and retain readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

- Mark

Related posts:

5 Ways to Get Started with B2B Video Content


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Rumor has it that video is the next big thing in content marketing. Sure, we’ve had television ads and YouTube in the consumer space for quite a while, but video is moving into the B2B space, too. Are you ready for it? Creating enough original content to make your brand stand out online is tough enough as it is, without factoring in the relatively new need to throw compelling visual content into the mix. Yes, it takes more time, effort, and sometimes money. But, as we all know, content is paramount. And everyone’s new favorite kind of content is video. How do you get started? Here are some tips and ideas to get your video content ideas off the ground.

1. Create a short company video

If you don’t have any video content for your website or brand yet, a simple video that tells the viewer the story of your company is a great place to start. You can feature this video on your homepage and it will come in handy in many other places down the line. Keep it short and sweet. You can take a look at ours here.

2. If you have a product, show it off

Whether you offer a physical product, software, or service, create some short videos that show it off. Get hands-on with your product or do a series of quick how-to videos for your software or service. Address how your business helps the audience you are serving. Your buyer wants as much information about what you offer as they can get before they actually make the effort to contact you. Offer them that in a video format, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

3. Have your customers chime in

If you have happy customers, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince a few of them to tell the story of how your product or service has helped their business. Ask if any of them are willing to participate in short customer success videos, where they can tell that story and offer a few kind words. People love talking about their work, and if what you offer has helped them succeed, they will likely say yes to helping you in return.

4. Join the conversation

There are debates and fascinating conversations happening on social media every day. Find out what those conversations are in your particular industry, and get in on the action. Participating on social media is a good start, but why not create a few thought-leadership videos where your executives can voice their opinions about the latest industry topics? This will help solidify your brand as a leader in the conversation and let your potential customers know what your company stance is on a variety of hot-topic issues.

5. Get personal

If your business has a fantastic office culture and a variety of interesting, hard-working employees, go ahead and give viewers a peek with some company culture videos. These could be short interviews of your standout employees, a virtual tour of your company headquarters, or a quick Instagram video capturing a fun office event. Giving your audience a glimpse of how your company operates will foster a sense of connection and trust.

Branching into video may seem overwhelming at first, but if you treat it like just another part of your content plan, you’ll be up and running in no time. It doesn’t take a video every day, or even one every week, to make an impact. Videos have a good shelf-life and will serve you and your website well for months at a time. Start small, and you’ll find that the more videos you create, the easier the process will become. As we like to heed our own advice, check back with us soon for more videos about Trapit and exciting video content news.

- Kelly


7 Types of Content your Audience Wants


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Image via

If you were an advertiser, publisher, or marketer in the 20th Century, traditional media was the way to go. By interrupting media consumers while they were reading, watching or listening to their desired content, you could steal their attention and deliver your message. Back then, of course, you had a relatively captive audience, something that the internet age has pretty much brought to an end.

Today, interruption-based advertising is practically useless. The number of advertising messages we receive on a daily basis is at least well into the hundreds, and the odds are stacked against even the best traditional campaigns. Instead, we live in a world where content is king, and where establishing trust, knowledge, and customer loyalty means everything. That’s where content marketing comes in: if you can position yourself as the thought-leader, as the trusted, reliable go-to source for quality information, then people will look to you for the solutions to their problems.

But that means having the right resources available at your potential customers’ fingertips when they need it. That means having the information all in one place, and having it be accessible at the touch of a button. And that means having it in the right format for your audience, no matter what point they’re at in the sales cycle. So what are the types of content you should provide them with? 

  1. Cutting-edge news: Sharing knowledge of the most recent news in your field -- including staying abreast of the most recent discoveries, press releases and industry developments -- shows your audience that you understand where the future of your industry lies.
  2. Relevant opinion pieces: There are a wide variety of perspectives out there on any topic, and at least in the digital age, people aren’t shy about sharing their own. But most of them simply parrot the same points with only a cursory level of quality information. If you can seek out and highlight the true diamonds-in-the-rough out there, you position yourself as plugged in to the pulse of your industry.
  3. Infographics: There’s a ton of information and data out there, and separating the wheat from the chaff is a daunting task for the casual consumer. But as an industry professional, summarizing complex information is a breeze for you, and telling a quality infographic from mere click-bait is something your audience could find incredibly valuable. If you can present to them a brief summary showing what they should be considering, getting those gears turning could have a tremendous payoff.
  4. Original thought-leadership: You can get very far simply by finding and sharing the most relevant third-party content that’s out there, and there’s absolutely no point to reinventing the wheel. But it’s paramount to establish your own value-add to the subject, whether that’s through social media, blogging, or complementary original content. Without your own voice interjected from time-to-time, you’re just reflecting the light of others rather than generating your own, and customers can tell the difference.
  5. Podcasts/webinars/online video: Grab your audience now with something that catches the eye. Have you put the effort into creating engaging content that goes into deeper detail, like a podcast, video or even a webinar? This takes time and effort to do right, but this is exactly what you ought to be doing if you’re interested in cementing your position as the premier source for quality, trustworthy information. Rise up to the challenge and your audience will be grateful.
  6. White papers/downloads: You have their attention, and they’ve made it to your website. They have a problem and think that you just might be the one to help them solve it. The big question now is this: where are your resources for them? A series of white papers, PDFs or other downloadable materials gives your audience the information they need to decide that your solution is a good one. And finally...
  7. A clear path to a solution: Is it a product you offer? A service? Something else? Make it absolutely clear, and make it easily accessible to anyone interested. If you’ve gone through all that trouble to build trust and to get your potential customers this far along the path, make it easy for them to go the rest of the way. A clean, easy and direct purchase or sign-up page can make all the difference in the world. Don’t create frustration when you can streamline instead.

Don’t make the mistake of not meeting the needs of your audience; if you don’t, there are plenty of others who will step up to the plate. In the 21st century, content is king, but delivering a uniquely valuable message that takes advantage of your unique expertise is what can set you apart. Use these 7 types of content to engage them with that message. 


Discovery Digest: Our Favorite Content Finds of the Week, Curated for You



It's hard to keep up with the latest news in the world of content and marketing, isn't it?

We curate content using Trapit all week long, and to help you keep up, we've highlighted some of our favorite discoveries below. To save you a little time, we're giving you the quick breakdown, too. 

Please enjoy our serendipitous finds for the week of March 30!

1. Don't put all your eggs in one content basket

Author: Yuyu Chen | Site: ClickZ | Link

Background: 10 pieces of content. According to Joe Pulizzi in Epic Content Marketing, that's how many pieces of content the average buyer looks at before reaching a decision. But in B2B scenarios, who's consuming that content?

CMO and NetLine examined how employees pass along content as they research their buying options.

It turns out there isn't a dominant content path.

How is content being shared as companies choose vendors

Why should we care about this?

When creating content, B2B marketers want to cater to specific personas. However, as this study points out, there are limits to marketers' specificity. We can’t write content just for junior-level teams or just for senior management or just for executive-level management because we don’t know who will be consuming our content.

The solution, according to Yuyu Chen, is to develop a point of view supported by "industry facts and stats, research, and insights."

In other words: Remember the good, ol'-fashioned research that went into creating white papers? Yeah, well, good, ol'-fashioned research hasn't died. The challenge is to find ways to repurpose the research and to present the information across different channels. 

2. Why 55% of potential B2B buyers might not trust your website content

Author: Dianna Huff | Site: CMI | Link 

If you haven't read this article, go ahead and take a guess. What establishes credibility with B2B buyers?

Are you ready for the answer?

website content assets credibility

It's your "About page." Fancy that.

On your "About page," you better put your e-mail address and phone number. 81% of buyers prefer to contact vendors via e-mail, and 58% of buyers prefer to contact vendors via phone.

 For more stats from the study, click here.

3. Is curation overused? The votes are in

Author: Steven Rosenbaum | Site: Forbes | Link

The problem: Curation has become a buzzword, and as a result, thought leaders have begun to poke fun at it.  Most notably, NPR's Scott Simon channeled his inner Elizabeth Barrett Browning and said, "How do I love thee? Let me curate the ways…"

Rosenbaum's take: He points out that the term curation isn't as overused as members of the media would have you believe. According to CNBC's 2014 poll, "viral" is far buzzier than the word "curation."

Rosenbaum includes a call-to-action: "Let’s start by putting our foot down and returning the world of curation to the world of content. Maybe we need the curation police to start handing out tickets for unlicensed curators and irresponsible use of the word.”

To that, I’d like to add a sappy, but sincere note: Curation is about more than simply "the world of content." The verb “curate” comes from the Latin verb curare, meaning “to care for.” So, for me, good content curation involves some tender, love, and care.

To put it differently, good curation means caring about what the original author wrote. It means engaging with the content on a deeper intellectual or emotional level. Good content curation also means caring about your audience - sharing content that your audience wants and needs to digest, and it means feeding your audience enough context so that they can appreciate the deliciousness of the content.

4. Why content marketers should step back from creation and focus on strategy

Author: Nathan Safran | Site: Search Engine Watch | Link

The main idea: According to a Demand Metric study:

Only 13% of marketers think that their content strategy is "very successful."

Let me repeat that…

Only 13% of marketers think that their content strategy is "very successful."

Why don't content marketers feel more successful?

Nathan Safran conjectures that marketers are focused on the wrong things. Mainly, they are fixated on generating leads.

53% of enterprise marketers seek to increase leads through content marketing.

56% of marketers from small- and medium-sized businesses seek to increase leads through content marketing.

Most Important Content Marketing Objectives

But… How is that a problem? Don't all marketers want to increase leads?

Perhaps, but Safran's point is this: Content can't generate leads if no one is looking at it! And unless our buyers are expert conjurers, they will not find our content by magic. So, in Safran's view, marketers should focus more on how potential buyers find their content.

So… how do we make sure that our buyers see our content? 

As someone writing for Search Engine Watch, Safran is focused on all things search-y. So, his solution is to focus on SEO strategies and social media. (ICYMI: Search engines have begun to incorporate social media signals like +1s into their results. More info here.)

By improving our search ranking, we will make sure that potential buyers will see our content, which, in turn, will generate more leads. Or so Safran's logic goes.

But is SEO our magical antidote?

That's a tough one. I agree that we have to focus on how our audience will find our content, but I'm reluctant to be as prescriptive as Nathan Safran.

What I will say is this: SEO can be a bumpy and frustrating road, given that many sites are vying for that top spot in search results. After all, the first-ranked search results receives 33% of the traffic. (Study summary here.)

But herein lies the rub. There's only one first-ranked search result. Only one page can receive 33% of the Google traffic. So, as Journey says in "Don't Stop Believin'," "Some will win. Some will lose."

Bottom line: There's no one-size-fits-all solution in marketing, but the general goal is to be where your audience is.

5. Visualize it: Get started with the content that will rule 2014

Author: Kelly Montgomery  | Site: Trapit

2014 continues to be the year of the visuals. In February of this year, Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio published their book The Power of Visual Storytelling. In the introduction of the book, the authors posit:

"Companies that go beyond creating and sharing content to embrace visual storytelling are emerging as the leaders of the pack and are being rewarded with engagmenet, referral traffic, and even sales."

In case that snippet from the book didn't convince you that visuals are important, Trapit's own Kelly Montgomery created an infographic with some powerful stats:

The importance of videos, images, and infographics in content marketing

You can read the rest of the blog post here.

So, there you have it…

5 summaries of 5 content marketing posts from the week of March 30, 2014. If you'd like to discuss any of these stories or if you'd like to add one article to the list, leave a comment below.

Until next time,


Visualize it: Get Started with the Content that will Rule 2014


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In case you've had any doubt about whether your brand needs to be creating and promoting visual content, we have some pretty astonishing facts for you: 

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and those visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than regular old text. 
  • 28% of companies are creating custom infographics, and the average increase in page visits when an infographic is shown is 12%. 
  • 55% of brands are creating video for content marketing. Why? Well, viewers spend 100% more time on pages that include video, and about 700 YouTube videos are Tweeted out every minute. 

It's not just infographics, either. A whopping 46.1% of people say that the design of a website is the number one factor that helps them determine the credibility of a brand. 

Are you convinced? Good. Now, onto the more difficult part. How do you start working visuals into your marketing and content strategy when you are already stretched thin on budget and resources? The best thing to do is to start now, and start small. You'll soon see a return on your efforts and creating visual content will become less time-consuming and overwhelming the more you do it. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Always include images with your social shares

Even if all you have is a stock photo to go along with your blog post, make sure that it is attached to all of your social shares of that post. This is usually done automatically on Facebook and LinkedIn; on Twitter, all it takes is a click of the paperclip "attach" button when you are composing your Tweet, and the resulting post will include an image that shows up in your followers' feeds. Even if the image is simple, adding it to your Tweets can provide a big payoff. 

2. Try your hand at graphics, big or small

While creating infographics might seem overwhelming, you don't actually need to be a graphic designer to start creating visual content. All you really need is the data (either your own or gathered from around the web), some kind of design tool, and someone who is willing to learn. A basic knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite will get you far, but you can also use free online tools like, Piktochart, and to create compelling graphics. If you don't have the time or patience for a full infographic, start small by creating graphic header images for your blog posts that include the title and a few visual elements. Doing this takes less time, but is still a great way to make your Tweets and other social shares more visual. The more you create this kind of visual content, the easier and quicker it will become. 

3. Start using Instagram

We've all been hearing about the decline of Facebook recently, but where are users spending their time instead? Instagram is near the top of the list, and it's a smart move for brands to create a presence on the network. It's also a great opportunity to have a little fun and interact with your audience. Instagram is the perfect outlet for photos that reflect your company culture. Snap photos of your workspace, happy employees, or fun office events. These posts can also be shared directly to Twitter or Facebook to pack an even bigger visual punch. 

4. Invest in video

This one may take more time and money, but the digital marketing world is trending towards video as a key content tool for 2014, and we can see why. The possibilities are endless. Start with whatever seems easiest and ramp up your video content slowly and consistently. Some basic ideas are: describing or demonstrating a product, testimonials from satisfied customers, messages from your executive team, Q&A sessions, fun company events, or video blogs. Try to keep your video quality consistent, and be sure to share the content you create across all of your channels. Instagram allows 15-second video clips, so you can share some teaser clips for longer videos there. 

It's not always easy to change and adapt your content to every trend, but the rise of visual and video content is certainly no passing fad. Just as was the case with social media, brands and companies who do not embrace the move to visual and video content will be left in the wake of those who started early and made the change. Start small, and with some time, patience, and consistency, your brand can join the pack of visual content leaders.

- Kelly

Facts gathered from: Axxon Research, HubSpot, and B2B Infographics


Camelot & 5 Ways to Engage your Audience with Storytelling



Just because we’re living in the Digital Age, don’t think ancient means of human communication are passé.

Image via

Camelot - a magical mystical place. Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that "Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere.” The first reference to Camelot was in 1170 and, still today, continues to be an enchanting story that delights and engages audiences of all ages. It is quite likely that the origins of this popular legend were most certainly born around Celtic campfires centuries before 1170.  Out of Camelot comes our love for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as well as our belief that Merlin and Arthur really understood the significance of freeing Excaliber - proof of Arthur’s lineage and right to the throne. It is here that Galahad conquers the Siege Perilous, and where knights see a vision of the Holy Grail and swear to find it. And we cannot forget the romantic love between Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. A timeless story has a little bit of something for everyone.

Why is this story something so many of us remember, and believe will likely still be retold a century from now? Perhaps because it is a story we fantasize as a metaphor for our own daily struggles – one which we can engage and believe? And through the magic of language, the story triggers our imagination, helping us relate to the characters, their values, and their hopes that are mostly closely aligned to our own.

Camelot is a good example of the power of a story; an illustration of what we can learn and relate through allegory and metaphor. What we can take from Camelot we can apply to our ability to write stories that are enduring and engaging to our audience. When I am telling stories, whether for pleasure or business, these are some of the things I consider:

1. Trigger the reader’s imagination: Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. Certainly, the image of a young Britton exacting a sword from a rock captures the imagination. People buy with their imagination, features and benefits to justify their thoughts.    

2. Ignite an emotional response: People remember things they feel. Lancelot’s love for Guinevere, at conflict with his love for Arthur, is rife with emotion. Emotional memories are strong and tend to last because we relate to them differently than something that had no impact on our feelings. 

3. Be human: As human’s we relate to others. Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere – all tragic and believable human figures. Our audience is affirmed as human beings through the stories we tell. It is a way of building a community – humanity is affirmed in storytelling. The only common denominator of our audience is that they are all human.

4. Use imagery: The use of imagery triggers the reader’s senses. Can you not vividly recall the surreal image of The Lady of the Lake’s haunting arm rising through the misty waters with Excalibur? Through this technique you increase the engagement of the audience. They can experience the story through enacting the sense – touch, smell, sound, sight and taste, and therefore the ability to recall will be enhanced.

5. Portray values: Jonah Sachs, author of “Winning the Story Wars,” says “…your role as an organization is to “connect your audience to their deeper values.” Your story isn’t about you it’s about motivating and empowering your audience.”  Consider the values forged by brave ancient knights, hands clasped around a table without head or foot. So by creating that motivation, you are also creating emotion, imagination, and a human image associated to whatever story you are writing.

And as a general rule of thumb, keep your stories simple. There is no need to over complicate what you write.  Avoid using “big” words and complicated details. Simple is better. The simpler a story, the more likely it will stick. Leo Widrich in his blog titled, “What listening to a story does to our Brains” tells us that “using simple language as well as low complexity is the best way truly relate to the happenings of a story.

The success of your story will be measured in your audiences’ engagement. Direct involvement from your audience means valuable actions such as sharing with their friends or remembering the brand’s message just a little more clearly.

If you are using social media as a channel for your story, you need to watch the actions taken across those channels. Or, if you are using a story as part of a campaign – your engagement and success is measured in the leads that are generated. When the audience is engaged in your story and converses about your brand, the brand then becomes content. Content that people are sharing.  That is the desired effect.

And back to Camelot – our imaginations are engulfed in imagery of Britain in the times of King Arthur whose values and human characteristics create impact and most certainly trigger an emotional and memorable response. When writing your story – remember the one that has had the most impact in your life.

- Pat


Human Connection and the Rise of Video



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While face-to-face is the most effective medium for communication, distribution – and quality – are formidable barriers

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Whether it is entertainment, education, or simply communication, the closer the recipient of the message can get to the originator, the better the chances that the message will be received appropriately. In the first days of human civilization, communications were face-to-face – it was story-telling – great deeds or practical knowledge transmitted from one person to another – or a small group -  in an intimate, personal, real-time setting.  Effective, but hardly scalable.  And, as anyone who’s ever played the “telephone game” knows, not very accurate past the first telling. 

Enter the written word.  These stories were first captured on stone tablets, and eventually on paper, mass-produced through the genius of movable type and printing presses. Scalable?  You bet. And precise too. Yet, even in the hands of the most gifted writer, words on paper are cold, impersonal – sterile as compared to the emotion, the warmth – the passion – of the creator conveying their message in person.  The theatre was a step in providing this missing personal touch, and raised the bar a bit on scalability, but not enough – especially as measured in the age of the Internet where billions of people are simultaneously approachable.

It was 1888 when the first film with a “motion picture camera” was produced. Of course, producing a “moving image” and solving the problem of distribution are hardly equal. That is, inventing the camera was a milestone, but the “projector” was still a ways off. And having a moving image solved a huge part of the recreation of a real-time, physical event, but synchronization with sound presented another problem – one that would take another three decades to solve.  And then, there was also color.

Anyway, you get it. My purpose here is not to retell the history of Hollywood, but rather to establish the importance of conveying a personal experience in communicating effectively. As a species, humans have evolved from stories told around campfires to smart phones and software capable of producing integrated video and audio ten-times more powerful than what Academy Award-winning directors were using less than two decades ago. This has led to a proliferation of video content easily distributed and widely available on the Internet. But unlike our ancestors, we can now tap into countless campfires around the globe – from Chicago to Calcutta to Siberia. And through the power of video, capture that emotion – the passion – the nuance - of the creator of that message, whether it is a 30-second clip or a three-hour feature film.

But therein lies another problem.  Billions of videos. YouTube reports that every minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded. From the historical Zapruder amateur video of the Kennedy assassination to the first men walking on the moon – to yet another of a million nonsensical clips of cats playing with yarn. Point is, I suspect that cat videos were not the hot topics around primeval campfires. To wit, it has been reported that 90% of all of the content that has been created since the beginning of time has been created in the past two years.  But before you high-five in celebration of the “awesomeness” of this proliferation of content, consider this: does the guy/gal behind the iPhone clips of college boys farting at frat parties rate with the brilliance of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Hemmingway, Steinbeck…?  Quantity does not equal quality. So, while technology has solved the problem of scalability, it has created another problem: in this sea of content – video content specifically - how do you know where content that is actually relevant to you will exist? Faced with the prospect of joining a billion campfires around the world, how can you choose the one that really will matter to you?  We’ve all heard “three hundred channels and nothing to watch.”  Well, multiply that by another million or so – and you’ll get an appreciation for the problem we all face with scale vs. quality.

At Trapit, we understand this. We love video. We get the power of this media. We understand that 80% of all content – in bytes at least – on the Internet today is video. But we also understand that some high percentage of this – 70, 80, 90%? – is crap – at least for any given individual. Trapit can help. We have done the heavy lifting. We’ve culled the Internet. We’ve sifted the flotsam and jetsam from the trillions of gallons of the Internet oceans of content – text and video – that swim in this ocean. And we’ve identified only the top sites for original, quality video content. Over twenty thousand of these sources – and growing. No spam, no aggregators, no porn. No crap. And our customers can decide how they want to categorize this content - not only in the topics that are relevant to them – but the medium. Text, video, audio. Any of the above – or all of the above.  Perhaps for one topic, our customer decides to share only video content with their constituents – or in another a combination of text and video. Trapit will give you the power to find that campfire that fits.

- Gary

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Let Your Audience Guide Your Content Strategy

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“If someone shows you who they truly are, believe them.” -Maya Angelou

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Imagine the scene: you walk into a store you wouldn’t normally frequent because you know they have an item you want to purchase for a dear friend. A sales representative approaches you, and tries to interest you in all sorts of products that aren’t the gift you’re looking for. An annoying experience for you, to be sure, since you’re likely to politely decline all the offers of help (that you never wanted to begin with), find what you came for, and leave. But what about the representative? If only they had known in advance that you weren’t the target audience for their pitch, they could have spent their time and efforts more productively, and perhaps even increased their store’s revenue.

You might not think about it the same way, but marketing your brand online is really no different. Every marketer and salesperson loves talking about their products and features, but if you have the same conversation with everyone -- regardless of what their needs are -- then your content strategy is inefficient at best, and can even be destructive to potential customer relationships. Instead, understanding the needs and problems of your target audience, and targeting your message to address those pain points specifically can make all the difference in the world.

That means being aware of what problems your target audience is actually facing, and speaking to those problems. That means building trust by showing that you’re attuned to your audience’s pain points. That means reaching out to influential members of that community, including ones that have successfully addressed those needs and those yet to do so. That means creating case studies and sharing customer testimonials, because there’s no better demonstration of an effective solution than plucking one straight from the real world.

Once you’ve identified your audience, you can craft the story of your company. Everyone has challenges they’re facing, and if you can identify the major ones faced by the potential customers you’re targeting, you can share their stories. You can connect with them socially, you can build relationships with them, and you can use their influence to draw attention to your own brand. Not every influencer needs to be a customer, either; sometimes building trust, establishing expertise, or simply showing that you understand the needs of your audience can have tremendous value. Every audience is different, and you need to make sure that you’re crafting your story to effectively engage with yours.

And engagement means content. As far as where that content comes from, this means both creating original content and sharing third-party content that supports all of these steps. As long as the content is high-quality and engaging, you’re doing what you need to establish trust, leadership, and to position your brand as the solution to your audience. Because you don’t win customers by promising your audience what you can do, you win them by showing who you are. So show them the entire story, and let the needs of your audience be your guide. 

- Ethan


What Customers Expect from Brands on Twitter


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If you’re a brand and you’re not on Twitter, you’re doing something wrong. While Google is still the first stop for a quick company search, Twitter is quickly becoming the place to discover and interact with brands, both big and small. Angry at Comcast for a dropped call or billing error? Tweet them and you’ll likely get a more enjoyable response than sitting on the phone on hold for 25 minutes. Want to find out about the best new products from your favorite clothing retailer? Check out their Twitter for real-time updates or even special offers. As a brand, just being on Twitter isn’t enough. Both your customers and prospects have expectations of just how a company should behave. Let’s call it social brand etiquette. Here are the absolute basics.

News about your company

If you have news about your company or brand, great! Be sure to share it on social. Having it on your website isn’t enough. There are countless customers and prospects who may only see you via your social presence. Make sure they know what the latest happenings are and what your brand is up to. You might catch the eye of a casual Twitter user who wouldn’t ever come directly to your brand’s website.

Quality original content

This one is a no-brainer, and it’s undoubtedly part of any successful brand strategy on Twitter. If you have a company blog, white-paper, or infographic, don’t neglect to post it on Twitter, even if it seems like it may be more successful on a different social channel. It doesn’t hurt to put all of your quality content out there for customers to see. They will appreciate being well-informed about you and your product.

Quality curated content

We are big proponents of curation, and there are good reasons to back that up. By posting quality content created by others on your social channels, you are telling your customers and audience that you care about your industry and sharing relevant insights, even if they come from another individual or company. Sharing curated content alongside your own content builds trust, brand authority, and thought-leadership. Your Twitter will become a place your audience goes for quality information.

Customer service

Twitter is a great outlet for basic customer service, and your customers like it that way. I know I, for one, would much rather Tweet a question to a brand, go on with my day, and get an answer back within a few hours, than sit on the phone listening to bad muzak for an undetermined amount of time. Be sure to monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand, and always respond. If you can answer a question or solve a problem on Twitter, do it. If the issue is too complicated to express in 140 characters, kindly thank them for reaching out and direct them to your email or a customer support email address.

Timely responses

Whether you are onboard with it or not, you will receive questions, feedback, and probably also complaints on Twitter. The sooner you can respond to all of those Tweets, even the negative ones, the better. Responding within 24 hours is ideal. Whenever I have tried contacting brands on Twitter, a timely and kind response has gone a long way in my respect for that brand and their customer service. It makes your customers feel like you are always there for them, accessible on one of their favorite social outlets.

Your brand voice

Last, but absolutely not least, your Twitter activity should always reflect your brand voice. Defining your brand voice is a whole other post, but once you’ve nailed down whether you are the authoritative professional type, the fun and playful type, or somewhere in between, make sure that your activity on Twitter reflects that style. If your voice is formal and professional, sharing silly viral videos might seem out of character. If your voice is light and silly, responding to customers with terse, short answers might be off-putting. Keep your voice consistent in your own Tweets, the content you share, and the way you respond to your customers.

- Kelly
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