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Apr 15

Why Twitter Wants Brands to Plan Content -

As Twitter looks to expand globally as a communication channel for businesses of all sizes, the social giant is trying to help brands figure out what to talk about.

The Twitter for Business team for UK + Ireland recently released a calendar to help companies plan tweets around events. Covering just April and May to start off, the calendar lists about 30 unique events in categories like Season, TV, Sports, and Culture – some are global like Easter Sunday, while others, like Bloom Flower Show Dublin, are more region specific. Each event has a very light “tip” associated with it and the option to add it to Outlook or Google Calendar.

Branded as #OwnTheMoment, the site has a very experimental feel to it, and it looks like they want to offer more, but aren’t sure exactly what that might be. So what’s the play here?

Why Content Planning Matters

Every social channel wants more brands engaging with their platform. But unlike TV commercials or magazine ads, these platforms are geared around stock and flow, emphasis on the latter. People (and by extension, brands) are still trying to figure out what to say.

what should I post

Literally, Google tells us so.

Most major brands engage in a lot of internal content planning. Often over spreadsheets, calendars, or even plain text documents, they will map out ideas for social media, often based on brand events, upcoming campaigns, seasonal moments and more. Depending on the brand, the team might look a few weeks to a few month ahead.

Great marketing is always triggered by something. Sometimes it it is an unpredictable trigger: the lights go out in the Super Bowl. But often it is sometime you can prepare for in advance, like the Super Bowl itself.

Additionally, brands want to make sure they are covering all their pillars. Nike represents a wide range of sports, from Basketball to X-Country to Golf, and in a range of levels, from Olympic to weekend warrior.

Planning allows brands to stay on top of their message as much as possible and keep their content mix balanced.

How Percolate Helps Brands Plan Content

It’s great to see that platforms like Twitter recognize the need to help companies plan. The Twitter calendar is a great start,  and for small businesses getting on Twitter, it might be exactly what they need to get started. But this stuff is hard.

In our work with brands, we’ve heard a number of pain points come up when it comes to planning.

— it’s hard to share and update planning documents
— it’s hard to track and group conversations around specific topics
— there’s not a lot of flexibility in how teams and view and organize content

That’s why we built the world’s first content planner that directly integrates into the creation and publishing work flow for brand marketing teams.

Social Media and Content Marketing Calendar

We suggest specific events that are directly relevant to a brand’s target audience – teams can tag events based on topics and platforms and populate their calendar with the right mix of triggers.

Of course, a content planner is not a silver bullet. Without creative and empathetic CMO’s, community managers and agency partners, you’ll still end up with uninspired content.

But when great tools, systems join forces with savvy marketers, magic can happen.

The post Why Twitter Wants Brands to Plan Content appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

from The Percolate Content Marketing Blog

Apr 14

How We Designed Percolate’s Quarterly Report -

Last week we released the first Percolate Quarterly Report. With this post I‘m going to share the thinking and design process behind our new report format.

The project began when we started kicking around the idea of publishing an annual report at the end of 2013. We were keen on telling stories around what it’s like to build a technology company. As we started to think about what such a report might actually entail, it didn’t take long for us to realize that it’s really hard to remember all the things that happened over the course of a year.

To produce a report we’d be really proud of, we would need to come up with a system for how to easily capture everything that went down across tech, design, business, culture and more. How would this happen?

Tracking Topics

We regrouped in January and came up with a brief that outlined the goals and direction for a 2014 report, one we would publish in quarterly installments. We decided to organize the report around topics and used a spreadsheet to keep track major developments in each category.

Our first report featured six topics:

1) News — Announcements around company milestones
2) Product —  A highlight of our latest products and the value they give our clients
3) Content — A roundup of our best blog posts, articles, whitepapers, and presentations
4) Events — How we build communities around the things that matter to us
5) Culture — A peek into life at Percolate
6) People — An introduction to all our new teammates

With our editorial direction established, the next question we needed to answer was how would we bring these stories to life?

Photography Diaries

We wanted the report to be visually strong and prominently feature great photography. We were already regularly taking photos of people around the office, and this project gave us a chance to re-evaluate what we were shooting. To build a library of assets for the report, we focused our attention in two areas: covering events we host and participate in, and taking portraits of new employees.


Editorial Design

Once we began speaking about the project, the design team took a look at report designs we loved. This included the work of Nicholas Feltron, Visual Supply Co, Network Osaka, Paul Rand, Warby Parker, Kickstarter and Artsy. All of this stuff prompted us to explore a range of executions both print and digital.


We found ourselves most excited about making a website, one that would be easy to share amongst our friends, family, clients, peers, and prospects. Early on, we considered using infographics as the primary structure for the report because they do a great job of displaying quantitative information in an interesting way. After some some discussion, we felt that this first report should go beyond the hard numbers and use photography to focus on the people and activities behind our accomplishments for the quarter. We wanted to show a simpler, human side to our company.

We have loved working with the brand system we developed together with Berger & Föhr last fall. This project would allow us to showcase how this system has played out to date, whilst also challenge us to understand how the system would allow us to tell our quarterly stories.

A great example of how this came together was the Content roundup section. Here we show a wide range of content executions, including; cover designs with color blocks, our graph styles using our primary and secondary color palettes, product imagery, all combined with typographic headlines.



My favorite part of designing the report was the close collaboration with the different teams throughout the process.

I worked with with Craig in Marketing to develop content bites that could be easily read at a glance. As set forth by our editorial guidelines, we tried to be thoughtful, interesting, bold, and proud in our writing; and strike a balance between readability and depth. I collaborated with Ben, a frontend engineer, to design templates with clear typographic structures and a grid that allowed elements to stack well for a responsive site.

Working across these different teams meant different perspectives, which constantly pushed us as to design and build a better report.

Our first quarterly report has laid a great foundation for us. We’ll continue to use the tracking system and visual language in future versions and we’re excited to explore new assets in a variety of mediums such as video  and print.

Check out the report, we’ve had fun making it and I think you’ll enjoy it.

The post How We Designed Percolate’s Quarterly Report appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

from The Percolate Content Marketing Blog

Apr 11

What Brands Can Learn from the Katherine Heigl Lawsuit -

As the largest drugstore chain in New York City, Duane Reade has a major presence both physically in the city and online. They boast over 2M followers on Twitter and 101k likes on Facebook. They’re even featured as a case study by Twitter as a business that effectively used rich media, promoted tweets, hashtag campaigns to see a 67x increase in followers year over year.

But because of the massive challenges that come with social content, the brands that perform the best are also the ones that move the fastest. And sometimes speed can lead to a stumble.

The $6M Lawsuit

On March 18th, Duane Reade posted a photo of actress Katherine Heigl holding Duane Reade bags on the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. The tweet read:

Love a quick #DuaneReade run?  Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping #NYC’s favorite drugstore.

It had at least 181 favorites and 74 retweets before it was taken down. The Facebook post, which had similar text, had over 100 Likes. The photo appears to be taken from set of photos posted on celebrity news site, Just Jared, on March 14th.

Now, Duane Reade is facing a six million dollar lawsuit for tweeting the photo, which Heigl asserts is for “economic and reputational injury flowing directly from the Defendant’s unlawful acts” which including depriving Heigl “of her valuable right to select what endorsements to grant, including and nhw those endorsements are presented to and perceived by the public”


Social Media: Free Speech or Advertising?

Heigl claims that the photo in question was taken without her permission by paparazzi and Duane Reade, according to the lawsuit her lawyers filed, “misused and misappropriated the photograph for its own commercial advertising”, also without her permission.

Heigl and her legal team argue that because Duane Reade’s tweets “predominantly promote commercial advertisements” and that they “only occasionally use large photographs” and thus the photo of Heigl stands out as the only celebrity image, implies “falsely that Plaintiff endorses Defendant”.

Which gets us into a bigger question: does social media fall into free speech or advertising?

On one hand, posting from a Twitter account is akin to getting a column in a really big newspaper and looks like a form of free speech. But at the same time, most social platforms are moving towards native ad model where tweets and Facebook posts can get paid promotion, which means almost every status update, photo, video, could be viewed as a potential ad that just doesn’t have any money behind it yet.

This lawsuit comes off the back of another collision between social media and brand advertising as the White House objects to Samsung’s attempt to use “the president’s likeness for commercial purposes” after it retweeted a selfie David Ortiz took with President Obama and then posted using Ortiz’s Galaxy Note 3. When does a photo become more than a photo?

As organic reach continues to decline on Facebook, our Co-Founder James Gross’ prediction that  “you won’t create content without promoting it” looks more and more prescient. Regardless of how the suit falls, the trend is clear: social content from brands is looking more and more commercial.

How Brands Need to Respond As Social Becomes Commercial

One of the key challenges for brands is how to keep up the volume and pace of social content without losing control of messaging or skipping steps like obtaining the rights for the media they distribute. For some time, social media has gotten a big free pass and lower scrutiny than, say, a billboard ad or 30 second TV spot.

But as social becomes a fundamental channel for marketers to push commercial content, they need tools and systems that address key issues:

1) Stock Photography

Free, licensed, pre-shot photography is a crucial part of traditional media production, but traditional methods of obtaining stock photos is too slow for social. Percolate clients can leverage our partnerships with Getty and Shutterstock to quickly find licensed photos and immediately post them into their social accounts.

2) User Generated Content

Often the best performing visual content are created directly by consumers who simply love the product. Lots of brands retweet content or run contests to collect images, but often fail to get the legal rights to use the image indefinitely. That’s why we created Fanbranded, a tool within Percolate that allows brands to request legal permission to use and modify photos from around the world, with the click of a button.

3) Employee Photos

Live events have always been a part of the mix when it comes to obtaining great visual content. But what happens when that excited customer decides they no longer want their smiling face on your Twitter stream? Printing model release forms, getting them signed at the event and storing them adds a significant burden to workflow. At Percolate, we saw this need and built Photographer, which allows a brand’s team to take photos at events with their smartphone, get the rights inside the app, and upload the image directly to the media library.

As brands get more savvy with social content, the complexity only increases. Avoiding lawsuits while continuing to move quickly requires a new approach and we hope to continue developing the tools that marketers need to win.

The post What Brands Can Learn from the Katherine Heigl Lawsuit appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

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Apr 10

Three Myths About Social Platforms Debunked -

At Percolate, we’ve developed a set of ideas we call the building blocks of marketing. They’re essentially things that marketers need to consider whenever they create and publish a new piece of marketing content. The final building block in this series is Platform.

At it’s core, marketing is about reaching a targeted audience with a specific piece of brand content. Platforms set the stage for content, without them there would be no way to reach our customers and prospects.

While the brands we talk to tend to be very tapped into the rapid evolution of social platforms, we’ve noticed that there are a few crusty ideas that can sometimes lead marketers astray. We’d like to clarify a few of those myths here.

Myth #1: You Still Need Prime-Time TV to Reach Big Audiences

There are still major brands out there who wonder if social media can truly rival television when it comes to reaching massive audiences. Certainly, TV has enormous reach: the 2010 World Cup final saw 909 million  viewers tune in, making it the largest televised event in history. (For our US readers, this is the viewership equivalent of eight 2014 Super Bowls.)

The counter point to that of course is the fact that just three social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) reach 1.5 billion people every single day: over 50% more than the World Cup. And with the new IAD numbers that were just released, we see that Internet ad spend hit $42 million in 2013, surpassing Broadcast Television for the first time ever. The industry has responded.

Myth #2: Our Brand Just Needs to Focus on Facebook

As platforms go, Facebook is a big one. As the social media giant turned 10 this year, 57% of American adults are on the platform and nearly two-thirds of them visit the site every day.  It’s also the leading social network in both North and South America, Australia and most of Europe, reaching 757 million daily active users.

Still, focusing on just one platform, even one as big as Facebook, is a mistake. There are now 25 social platforms that reach 50 million daily active users, each with a different demographic, frame of mind and context. YouTube, the #2 most trafficked social network reaches audiences in a very different way compared to WeChat, the mobile messaging platform that’s dominating China. Simply the fact that Facebook has spent tens of billions of dollars acquiring multiple social platforms should indicate to brands that its leadership position is not absolute.

Myth #3: Reposting Content is the Answer

One response to the challenge of new platforms and increased content demands is simply to repost. A recent Forester report suggested that brands simply reposting content to Google+, a practice we don’t recommend. As Gary Vanerchuck, not one to mince words, puts it in Jab, Jab, Right Hook:

“Posting the same content on Tumblr as Google+ is the equivalent of the tourist deciding that since he can’t speak Norwegian he’ll just speak Icelandic and it will do. That’s stupid.”

Each platform has its own style, pace and audience, and to be successful, a brand must understand those. Beyond that though, the definition of “platform” for distributing marketing content continues to expand. While we once thought of only email or Facebook, platforms now include dozens of different social networks, landing pages, micro-sites and even publishers, who increasingly make their audiences directly available to brands in the form of native advertising.

The Bottom Line

Successful brands see past the commonly held misconceptions about platforms. They are thinking long and hard about the channels that will bring their content to their audience.

This concludes our series on the building clocks of marketing. The previous posts in this series included Audience, Trigger, Brand, and Business Objective.

The post Three Myths About Social Platforms Debunked appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

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Apr 09

Thoughts on Building a Design Driven Company -

A few weeks ago, I went along to the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Design Conference. Having come across the event earlier in the year, I was curious to hear what the speakers (hailing from companies like Asana, Frog Design, and Gap) would share around the role design plays inside their organizations and how this has changed as they’ve grown and taken on new challenges.

Here are my takeaways from that sunny day in San Francisco:

Evaluate Purpose

Regularly taking a step back and focussing the team on your core mission is vital for companies of all shapes and sizes. Evaluation brings priority to design decisions.


Sometimes taking a step back can fuel an overhaul. This is what Rebekkah Bay is currently navigating as Global Creative Director of the Gap.

In the last 10 years, the retail giant’s offering has diversified tremendously. So when Bay moved into her current role, she first tasked the design team of 160 people to focus on the foundation of the brand. To focus on creating the iconic basics that made the company relevant in the first place:  the best t-shirts, shirts and pants on the market. Only after this foundation is in place does she plan to address communication and retail experiences.

Embrace Friction

Creating a space for interdisciplinary teams to meet and understand the problems they are solving is part of the design process. This friction creates an engine for teams to deliver.


Establishing etiquette around design critiques has been a focus of Asana Co-Founder Justin Rosenstein. When he brings designers and engineers together to review the progress of software features and products, he asks everyone to offer problems, not solutions with their feedback. By framing critique with ‘When I look at that, I feel…’ his aim is to ask the team to engage with the empathy. For the critique host, he encourages them to ask questions to understand the problems their team have identified before explaining design choices.

Universal Guidance

Maintaining a familiar look, feel and tone across products, and services isn’t easy for large organizations. Building tools which communicate brand DNA can inspire success.


Target’s slogan has been the same since 1962  ‘Expect more, pay less’. A promise that has helped scale the business to nearly 2,000 stores worldwide. When Todd Waterbury arrived a year ago as Executive Creative Director, he installed 5 Principles: Emotional, Useful, Democratic, Simple and Purposeful.

These principles have helped guide design efforts and give ‘brand soul’ to everything Target does. You can see them at work with Target’s Feed USA collaboration and  Cartwheel app, to the championing of new designers like Peter Pilotto and the information design they bring to medication.

Champion Constraints

Embracing the opportunities, and constraints, of rapid product development is what builds an open design culture. These values establish productivity and collaboration across teams.


‘Constraints are king’ is the motto of Quirky, an online marketplace whose mission is to make invention accessible to everyone by crowd sourcing product ideas and bringing them to life with a team of inhouse designers and engineers. Founder, Ben Kaufman, let us know that if the Empire State Building could be built in 410 days in 1931, there is absolutely no reason why his company can’t help its community release three products every week in 2014.

The cycle of launching Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday helps focus decisions across the company everyday.

Measure Behavior

Feedback systems are at the heart of every great product company: Capturing it improves the experience of customers and employees.


Until recently, understanding the behaviors and characteristics of successful leaders has been a pretty manual process. Timothy Morey from Frog Design, showed off an electronic device that could potentially change that. Sociometric Badges, the result of an MIT research project takes the idea of quantified self into the office. The devices measure conversations between colleagues, looking for patterns in tone and duration, and well, 98 other signals as it looks to build a physical graph of employees. Behaviors of effective leaders include brief, lively conversations.

Conference transmission ends.

As you may know, the role of design is something I’ve been thinking about since we started Percolate. We knew from day one, that putting a design department in place wasn’t enough.

Over the last three years, we have seen how great products and services aren’t designed by designers alone. We are working hard to create an environment where design thinking permeates the entire organization. If you are a reader of this blog, you may have come across our thoughts on how service informs design, our approach to market research and how we design with people.

Hearing the diverse and interesting ways other companies are using design to help drive their organizations forward was great validation for the things we are doing at Percolate today, and the things we have up our sleeves for tomorrow as we grow the team.

I absolutely recommend attending the conference next year. The breakfast burritos were pretty impressive too.

The post Thoughts on Building a Design Driven Company appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

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Apr 08

Onboarding at Percolate -

A great way to see how much a company values culture is through the way it onboards new employees. I started working at Percolate in the Growth team about a month ago and was immediately taken aback by how comprehensive and thoughtful the onboarding process was here.

I’ve worked at startups, inside the federal government, and even developed onboarding practices as a startup founder, and this has been the most exceptional process I’ve seen by far. That’s particularly impressive when you consider that Percolate started 2013 with 27 people and now we’re close to 110 with about 30 job openings in NYC, SF, Austin, & London.

In this post, I’ll talk about Percolate’s current onboarding process and why I think it works so well.

Organized from the Start

When you arrive at Percolate on your first day, our operations manager April takes you to your desk where you’ve got your machine (MacBook Air for Business, MacBook Pro for Product), monitor (Dell 24″ for Business, Apple Thunderbolt Display for Product), and what ever peripherals you might need.

Step one is setting up your Google Apps account, where you’ve got a few emails waiting for you. One of them tells you to sign in to Asana, where your task inbox is filled with a few dozen onboarding tasks. Things like:

— Add yourself to our internal calendar
— Write your introduction email (more on that in a minute)
— Create a Paychex account and verify your first paycheck
— Reflect on Week 1

These tasks were all fired off from a master template which includes tasks for your manager, your Percolator (more on that in a second as well), April herself, and other people from throughout the company. The tasks are also tagged for different teams. For example, new Engineers will get “Run Percolate locally” while Sales people will be assigned “Practice the Demo”.  All in all, there are about 175 possible tasks that could be assigned across the company.

It’s amazing that someone (or rather, a set of people) sat down and actually thought about what new hires would need to get ramped up. Rather than seem overwhelming, the list actually gives a sense of order to the madness.

Well Documented

Hi there and welcome. If you’re reading this then you’ve been hired at Percolate. Congratulations and great work, you must be awesome. Prepare to be challenged, inspired, rewarded and transformed.

— Day One @ Percolate

One of the key tasks listed in Asana is to read Day One @ Percolate, an 18 page Google Doc. It covers a number of things, including:

— The story of our founders James Gross and Noah Brier met and why they decided to start Percolate in 2011
— Creating strong passwords (complete with the relevant xkcd comic )
— Our culture, values and the idea of communal genius
— Guidelines for running meetings (#1 is “Do you really need a meeting?”)

Day One @ Percolate also links out to other documents, including our fairly robust internal wiki, a vocabulary of terms frequently used inside the company, a longer document on our mission and vision, and our very down-to-earth employee manual. It’s a a living document – people will make comments, ask questions and Noah, our CEO, will actually follow up pretty quickly to update the doc.

Noah borrowed this practice of extensive documentation from his time at Naked Communications, where his manager had done something similar. It might be a lot of work to write (and read) so much content, but it’s incredibly helpful for providing context and setting expectations.

The Introduction Email

It often takes a while for new people in the office to “break the ice” and start forming genuine connections. One way Percolate accelerates that process is through the introduction email.

As explained in Day One @ Percolate, you need to send out an email in your first week introducing yourself to the company – including where you grew up, what you were doing professionally before Percolate, and at least a few random/personal tidbits. You also have to include an embarrassing photo of yourself and link to three questions you’ve asked in our internal Q&A site, Barista.

The email goes out to the entire company and pretty much everyone reads it.

I wrote about my experience with rejection therapy, my experiences as a gymnast and growing up in Newton, a suburb of Boston. More than 25 people replied back to me — it turns out our VP of engineering was a high school gymnast and someone else had lived in my hometown. It was great to start building genuine connections throughout the company.


Getting to Know Your Percolator

Onboarding isn’t just in forms and documents though. It’s in people. Every new hire is assigned a Percolator, someone who’s volunteered to be your buddy as you get settled in.

My Percolator was Brittany, a member of the Client Solutions Team. She stopped by a few times during the week to check on me and helped me with a bunch of random, new-hire questions (“Where can I find pens?”) via chat. On my first day, we went out for lunch at an Italian restaurant nearby with two other new hires (Rachel and McKenna) and their Percolators.

When a company reaches 100+ people, there are a lot of names and faces to remember. I was very impressed when Brittany could introduce everyone else by name.  And because people had read and responded to my introduction email, I could actually have meaningful conversations with a bunch of folks on the team and start putting faces to names.

Training and Resources

“This onboarding process involved the most immersive training and dedicated time to getting me comfortable to take on business.  Usually you get two days and you’re being included on emails and expected to pick up where the last person took off. People take training seriously here — they don’t just ‘grab you when they have time’. You come in and immediately have 20 invites for training sessions.”

Rachel Lary (Started Mar ’14)

For most people, the first two weeks are about picking up what information you can when you can. At Percolate, it’s a more formal process.

Through the tags in Asana, different people will be assigned different training sessions — engineers get a run down of the Percolate tech stack, sales people compete in a “Demo Off” where they pitch Percolate in front the business team, and client solutions team members have to get Product Certified, a 3 step process which includes a 30 min presentation, an oral exam, and a 75 question multiple choice exam.

No matter who you are, you’ll get a core set of training sessions:

— a discussion with April about how benefits and perks work
— a presentation by Noah on vision, mission, and culture
— a walkthrough of the product by someone on the client solutions team

Continuous Improvement

Onboarding at Percolate isn’t perfect, but continuous improvement, a core value of the company, is built into the process.

Our IT manager Kyle, who started in February, told me how he wants to automate the machine deployment process so that licensed software, printer settings, Dropbox accounts, and other details are already loaded and configured. Day One @ Percolate continues to get edited as the company grows. And now that we have offices in Austin, San Francisco and London, with more on the way, we will have to adjust some of our processes to account for the distance.

Overall, I think we do a great job with onboarding but I know we can do even better.  I’ll end with a quote from Noah:

“If we were grading our onboarding system on a curve, then Percolate would get an A. But on an absolute scale, I think we could do so much better. I want our onboarding to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It needs to be a differentiated experience, which helps from the recruiting angle, but it also affects the bottom line. If we can get you ramped up faster, then you can start closing deals and shipping product weeks or even months sooner.”

If you’d like to transform marketing through technology and experience the Percolate onboarding for yourself, apply for one of our many openings.

The post Onboarding at Percolate appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

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Apr 07

Engagement is Not a Business Objective -

At Percolate, we’ve developed a framework called the building blocks of marketing – key elements that should be addressed in every piece of marketing. Perhaps one of the most overlooked building blocks is Business Objective

Marketing, ultimately, is a business discipline and each piece of marketing communication should be attached to an objective or set of objectives established by the brand. While a brand might measure metrics such as followers, likes, retweets and mentions, those numbers are essentially raw data. Unfortunately, we often see brand marketers treat these numbers as the final outcome of their effort. To really understand the full picture of their marketing content’s impact on audiences, brands need tie that social engagement with more fundamental objectives.

— For marketers at e-commerce companies, that might be the average order size.
— For those at consumer brands, it might be sales volume for a particular product.
— For those at enterprise companies, that might be new leads from webinar and white paper landing pages.
— And for marketers focused on Masterbrands, it might be measuring brand sentiment over time.

Nichole Kelly of Social Media Explorer recently did a tear down of the math of Social ROI. Using an estimate of that a company could reach 16% reach of it’s total following on a social account with a single post/update, a 1% click-through rate on the post and a 2% conversion rate from visits to lead, she argued that a brand would need 1,250,000 followers to generate 250 leads.

That seems like a really steep funnel in our view, but even if we recognize that this analysis is conservative, her point is well taken: simply measuring activity can offer a false sense of progress. Only by measuring real goals can marketers be sure that their efforts are paying off.

While each brand has different objectives, understanding what you’re trying to accomplish with a piece of content, and how you plan to measure that, is crucial for determining whether your marketing is achieving progress for your brand.

Business Objective is a key marketing element that emerges from the challenges that content marketers face. For a free, comprehensive report on this topic, download our free white paper: The Building Blocks of Content

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Apr 04

5 Sure-Fire Ways To Keep Your Marketing Content On Brand -

At Percolate, we’ve developed a framework called the content building blocks – key objectives and elements that should be addressed in every piece of marketing content.

Marketing content from brands must ultimately connect back to the company. In the past, companies could take their time and carefully review everything that went out, but we’ve moved from a world where brands created 3-4 commercials a year to a world where they create 3-4 pieces of content per day across multiple channels, target audiences, and geographies. Staying on brand has become much harder.

Consistency is one of the top three challenges for today’s marketers and at Percolate, we spend a great deal of time working to solve this problem for our clients. Here are five effective methods we advocate:

1) Have Crisp Brand Tenets

Planet Fitness is very clear about its “no lunks” policy – if a member drops weights, grunts while lifting, or judges other members, an alarm goes off and they are escorted out of the building. The idea was to create an atmosphere free of loud, aggressive, beefy gym-goers who can make working out an intimidating affair. While this policy has certainly made some enemies for the franchise, by sticking to its guns and offering a clear point of differentiation, Planet Fitness now boasts 5 million members and claims to be the fastest growing gym franchise in America.

A brand exists to tell a story – about itself, and about the customers it serves. The strongest brands make it very clear what they stand for, and that’s the first step to ensuring that your marketing content stays on brand.

2) Communicate Brand Values

Even when a brand has strong and clear tenets, it still needs to ensure that they are properly communicated across the organization and to all stakeholders who might represent the brand, including agency partners, third party vendors, affiliates, etc. This often means creating resources, running training sessions and alerting stakeholders to any changes or updates.


Mailchimp is one of the most respected email marketing products on the web, and certainly has one of the strongest brands. Their distinctive voice is documented and preserved through their comprehensive Voice and Tone website, which covers everything from their blog writing, to webinars, to app copy, to social media and more.

3) Use a Brand Checklist

Even with proper and consistent training, it can still be challenging to keep everything about your brand in mind as you, your team, and your partners sit down to create content. One way to do that is with something very basic: a checklist. Physician and best-selling author Atul Gawande found that when the rate of deaths and complications dropped by 35% when surgeons implemented a basic two-minute checklist.

Within Percolate, we’ve built a feature called “brand prompts“, which present a series of questions the content creator must answer before they’re allowed to publish a piece of content. These questions capture what’s important and compliant for the brand like: “Does this picture show our company as a fun place to work?”, ensuring that marketers get one final chance to think about their content before pushing it out.

4) Set Up (Painless) Approvals

Sometimes a checklist is enough of a safety net for brands, but other times, something more heavy duty is necessary. Many financial companies have to go through multi-step approval processes that pass through social and brand teams, through to legal and compliance, and over to regulatory bodies before getting complete sign off. Avoiding the disaster of long email chains holding multiple copies of a Microsoft Word Doc that’s tracking changes is a must.

After speaking with many clients, we carefully designed an approval process at Percolate that gets out of your way and speeds up the process of getting content out the door without losing the security of a multi-stage review process.

5) Simplicity Wins

As Steve Jobs once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication“. Apple made its massive comeback in the early naughts by offering carefully crafted and surprisingly simple products and services that were often better known for what features they were missing (copy&paste, FM radio) than what features they actually had.


When speed and volume are primary factors, having a quick toolkit of pre-approved logos, product images, colors, and fonts make developing on-brand content much easier. In Percolate, these brand elements are programmed into the system from Day One so social teams and agency partners can quickly create visual content in our image editor that aligns with the brand.


At the end of the day, a brand embodies a collection of values, ideas, design patterns and associations that form a concrete identity. In the rush for speed and relevance marketers can’t sacrifice brand voice – they need more robust strategies and tools to ensure consistency.

Brand is one of several key objectives and strategies that emerge from the challenges that content marketers face. For a free, comprehensive report on this topic, download our free white paper: The Building Blocks of Content

The post 5 Sure-Fire Ways To Keep Your Marketing Content On Brand appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

from The Percolate Content Marketing Blog

Apr 03

How Marketers Can Do Social Like Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs -

New York Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated events on the fashion calendar, occurring twice a year in February and September. With events taking place all over New York City from Lincoln Center to Milk Studios, how does a fashion marketer create a digital campaign that will set their label apart?

Here are two examples of successful digital and social campaigns by some of the world’s hottest fashion brands from this year’s January event:

Tommy Hilfiger: A Front Row and Backstage Instagram Meetup

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The renowned American fashion designer showed that he’s up-to-speed with social media when he hosted the first ever runway show InstaMeet during his fashion show this past February. Hilfiger collaborated with top instagramers Brian DiFeo and Anthony Danielle to host the InstaMeet, as well as hand pick a group of New York-based instagramers to take pictures during the show. Over 300 people applied but only 20 were selected.

Fans were able to get an in-depth look at the backstage and show through these images by following the hashtag #tommyfall14 and #nyfwinstameet – including one that had earned over 6,500 likes.

Marc Jacobs: Social is the New Currency

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Marc Jacobs’ fragrance division launched a pop-up shop during NYFW to coincide with the launch of their new print campaign to promote their fragrance ‘Daisy.’ To create a big splash in the already-noisy week, the brand launched a campaign where interested buyers couldn’t purchase the fragrance with regular currency. Instead, they could pay with social media posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with their curated hashtag #MJDaisyChain as payment.

Daisy was already using this hashtag to encourage users to create a virtual “daisy chain” with photos of daisies and this pop-up shop social media spin just put fuel on the fire – huge volumes of tweets and instagrams were posted, helping drive awareness and sales for the new fragrance.

Percolate: Creating Tools for Brands

How can you maximize the social impact of your next campaign? Every marketing team can and should be thinking about how to scale their efforts around visual content with a focus on their audience. At Percolate, we’ve created host of tools that help with sourcing, editing, and distributing images in real-time, with brand governance baked in. Two to highlight today are Fanbranded and Photographer.

Fanbranded allows marketers to request permission for images from fans that have been posted through Twitter and/or Instagram. This tools streamlines the licensing process, giving marketers, a legal framework tool to acquire user-generated content for the first time. A great example of this is Shinola, a lifestyle brand based in Detroit, who uses this tool to grow its media library without expensive photo shoots or recurring legal fees to boost their image posting frequency.

Photographer is a mobile that app allows brands to deploy to their employees to create content for the brand on-the-go. Braun, a men’s personal care brand that’s part of the P&G portfolio, uses the Photographer app at a variety of live events, includingone in Miami to capture dozens of images in real-time in collaboration with their agency partners.

When it comes to planning for upcoming events, launches, and announcements, creating compelling visuals is vital. Smart marketers will leverage innovative tools that maximize their team’s effectiveness.

The post How Marketers Can Do Social Like Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

from The Percolate Content Marketing Blog

Apr 02

The Real Cost of Creating 1,500 Pieces of Marketing Content Per Day -

Across both B2B and B2C, the largest challenge digital marketers face is reaching their audiences with relevant content. Now that content has become the core vehicle for brands to connect with their audiences, it’s imperative that marketers seek efficient, cost-effective content workflows to engage their audiences – which have fragmented across mobile and social.

At this week’s AdAge Digital Conference in New York, Nestle revealed that its teams produce more than 1,500 pieces of marketing content each day for its 800+ Facebook pages.

With 210 million Likes spread across 800+ Facebook fan pages for its brands, @Nestle develops 1,500 pieces of content per day #aadigital

— Dina Fierro (@eye4style) April 1, 2014


What type of investment does that entail? For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume each Facebook post takes 2 hours of work, with 30 mins spent on each of these four steps:

  1. Creative and planning of the content
  2. Graphic design for visuals
  3. Scheduling, legal approval, publishing and community management
  4. Amplifying the post to combat Facebook’s diminishing organic reach.

For the moment, let’s ignore ad spend, analytics, monitoring and reporting on post performance, as well as overhead, administrative, licensing and additional agency costs. This means a global brand like Nestle is investing at least 3,000 effort hours a day to bring digital content to their audiences at that scale.

What does that look like from a cost perspective? Again, for easy math, let’s assume the average marketer makes $75,000 a year, works 50 hours a week and spends 50 weeks a year on the job. Annualized, that equals 2,500 effort hours per year per marketer, costing roughly $30 per hour.

At that rate, a large brand is investing $90,000 a day of effort to produce marketing content it can deliver its Facebook fans. While these numbers are simplified, outside-in estimates, the implications of scaling similar output across Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social channels are momentous, reinforcing why a global marketing giant like Unilever employs nearly 7,000 marketers and brand partners worldwide. Moreover, the resource-intensiveness of brands’ digital content appetites will only grow further with the rise of ephemeral media on networks like Twitter, Vine and Snapchat, where content’s half-life is further diminished.

In our own industry survey work, 79% of marketers cite content creation and sourcing help as one of their top three needs. In interviews with brands and agencies that aren’t currently using Percolate, 51% say their current workflow doesn’t meet the realities of their job, and they need better tools and resources to meet their content goals. These results are consistent with Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 findings among B2B marketers, who cite lack of time (69%), producing enough content (55%) and producing the kind of content that engages (47%) as their top three challenges. Quality content marketing comes with clear costs, and many marketing departments are struggling to keep up with the demands of a changing media landscape.

The data shows there is a large, underserved opportunity to help marketers and agencies with better technology for managing, governing and scaling content.  At Percolate, we’re excited to be leading the charge to create more efficient, effective and audience-centric solutions for the world’s best brands.

The post The Real Cost of Creating 1,500 Pieces of Marketing Content Per Day appeared first on The Percolate Content Marketing Blog.

from The Percolate Content Marketing Blog