Is Technology Actually Making Us Less Productive? [New Research]

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After working in my role here at HubSpot for almost eight months now, I’ve started to go into autopilot when I turn on my computer every morning.

I open up my email app, my calendar app, my organization and productivity app, my grammar-checking app, my note-taking app, my analytics tool, and my blogging tool.

And that’s only when I first get into the office.

By the end of most days, my browser is full of different tabs, and so many apps and tools are running that they eventually start shutting down of their own accord. When all of these sites, apps, and tools are working, I spend a significant portion of my day using them: to write, to proofread, to extrapolate data, to keep track of what I’m working on, to update notes — all in the name of efficiency.

But as it turns out, the tools and apps that we marketers use every day could actually be making us less efficient. If you feel the pain of switching between 1,000 apps per day like I do, read on for new data from HubSpot Research.

The Trouble With Tools

We surveyed more than 2,000 business owners, salespeople, and marketers in the U.S. and U.K. The biggest finding from our research? Marketers and salespeople are using too many productivity tools and apps, and it’s actually making us less efficient.

Marketers are using a ton of tools.

You probably knew this one already from your own day-to-day experience, but it bears repeating: There are an enormous number of marketing tools out there, and marketers are using a lot of them to get their jobs done every day.

HubSpot Research analyzed our customer base of over 20,000 websites, and we found that each website has an average of 13 tool integrations — one website even had 88 tools and apps. The marketing app and tool landscape is incredibly crowded and constantly evolving, a phenomenon Chiefmartec.com chronicled in this extremely busy graphic:

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Source: Chiefmartec

Now, before you keep reading, think about how many tools you use every day to do your job. Keep that number in mind as you keep reading the results of our survey.

Marketers underestimate how many tools they’re using.

When I counted up the number of tools I use every day, my initial count landed at seven tools and apps. But then, when I started digging into my internet history, I realized the number was actually higher. HubSpot’s internal communications platform is a tool I didn’t consider. The same goes for our file-sharing service, my social media scheduling tool, and an analytics bookmark.

By the time I fully audited every single tool and app I use in a given day to do my job, the number was in the double-digits. And as it turns out, I’m not alone.

When we asked our survey respondents how many technologies they used in their day jobs, their answers were surprising — and perhaps too low.

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Source: HubSpot Research

The majority of survey respondents said they only use between one and five tools to do their jobs every day, and we think these numbers err on the conservative side for the same reason my initial number was so low. When technology becomes a part of your day-to-day routine, it’s easy to forget you’re using it — and to notice that it could make your day less efficient.

When apps and tools are built into your workday as browser extensions, bookmarks, homepages, and push notifications, for example, it can be easy not to count them. But as it turns out, using them is taking up valuable time.

Too Much Tech = Too Little Efficiency

In an ironic twist, tools designed in the name of productivity and efficiency could be impeding those results.

Marketers are wasting time.

We asked marketers to estimate how much time they spend each day logging into, using, and jumping between the different tools and technologies they use. The results were surprising: Marketers are losing up to five hours per week managing and operating apps to get their jobs done.

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Source: HubSpot Research

Marketers are getting frustrated.

The two biggest pain points for survey respondents were how much time it takes to work in and operate the myriad of different marketing tools out there, and how much time it takes to switch between tools using different logins and passwords.

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Source: HubSpot Research

That hour lost to managing different tools and technologies each day is all the more aggravating if the tools share functional capabilities, and a majority of the marketers we surveyed think up to five tools they use could be redundant.

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Source: HubSpot Research

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely redundancies between some of the tools I use. Heck, I use two to-do list apps and still write my list down with a pen and paper every day. How many tools do you use that work to do different versions of the same functions?

Marketers could be using that time to do other cool things.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the inefficiency of tools is that time spent managing tools takes away from time that could be spent tackling big-picture challenges, creating content, or closing prospects. Here’s what the marketers and salespeople we surveyed said they wished they could be doing with that time:

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Source: HubSpot Research

The three things marketers would prefer to focus on — growing web traffic, creating content, and converting new leads — might look familiar. They’re critical pieces of the inbound and content marketing funnel, and without ample time to dedicate to these tasks, marketers might not be able to generate as many leads as needed for their sales teams’ success.

What’s the Solution?

So, let’s recap.

The results of this survey aren’t great. Marketers and salespeople are having trouble being as efficient and productive as possible because they have to manage so many different tools. They’re sacrificing time to work on projects of greater impact and magnitude to log into tools and extrapolate data.

But not to worry — we suggest two steps to maximize efficiency and stay productive in the face of hundreds of productivity tools to choose from.

1) Do an audit.

If you didn’t do it earlier while reading, sit down and write down (or type) a list of all of the websites, tools, apps, extensions, and bots you use every day to get your work done. From your sticky notes app on your computer to your pen and paper to-do list, make an exhaustive list of everything you use to get everything done.

2) Consolidate and integrate.

Then, try to categorize your tools and apps into different functionalities to identify any redundancies in your productivity system. If you’re using three different types of to-do lists, as I do, can you cut two and just use one? If you’re spending time reporting data from three different analytics programs, sit down with your team to determine if there’s a more efficient way you could be reporting, or if your KPIs are up-to-date with your team’s needs.

The ultimate goal should be to create a system of tools that are easy to use and make marketers’ jobs as productive as possible. To learn more about how we’ve done that here at HubSpot, read about our completely integrated Growth Stack here.

How much time do you think you lose each day to redundant tools and apps? Share with us in the comments below.

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What Do Snapchat Emojis Mean?

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There are hundreds of emojis available on iOS and Android mobile device keyboards. Everything from tacos to national flags to artists is represented in cartoon emoji form.

But let’s be real here: Most of us just use the same few emojis over and over.

Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. 

If you know me, you know I love two things more than anything: cats and sleeping. So it’s fitting that the two emojis I use most often in my texting keyboard are:

                                                       cat_emoji sleep_emoji

Another thing you may already know about me is that I love using Snapchat. So when emojis started popping up in my list of chats with friends in the app, I needed to get to the bottom of it.

In this post, we’ll dive into the history of Snapchat emojis and what they all mean. Bear in mind that these emojis vary slightly across iOS and Android devices, so we’ve written out what the faces look like, too.

What Do Snapchat Emojis Indicate?

Snapchat emojis track the activity and behaviors between Snapchat users and their friends. The frequency, timing, and pattern of your Snapchat interactions with other users will determine which emojis, if any, appear in your list of Snapchat chats.

Not sure what I mean? Check out my list of Snapchats, along with a few different emojis you might see in your own app. To access this page, open up your Snapchat app, and swipe right.

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When Snapchat was first created, the app used to show who users’ best friends were publicly (best friends are the users they sent the most Snaps back and forth with). You can imagine why users took issue with this. Can you imagine the awkwardness of finding your best friend or significant other was best friends on Snapchat with somebody else?

So in 2015, Snapchat (now Snap. Inc) axed this feature in the name of user privacy and hid the lists of other users’ best friends — to more outraged reactions. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel has said that the app will bring back public best friends, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

In the meantime, the friend emojis we decode below have replaced the list of best friends — and provide greater detail. Now, there are more insights into how users interact with friends — you just need to know how these behaviors are represented in the app.

Let’s dive into understanding your Snapchat contacts list better. And remember: These emojis are only visible to you.

What Do Snapchat Emojis Mean?

1) Smiley Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: This user is one of your best friends on Snapchat. You frequently send Snaps back and forth to each other.

2) Yellow Heart Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: This user is your #1 best friend. You send the most Snaps to this user, and they send the most Snaps to you.

3) Smirking Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’re one of this user’s best friends, but they aren’t one of your best friends. They send you more Snaps than you send them.

3) Grimacing Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Your #1 best friend is their #1 best friend, too. You both send lots of Snaps to the same user.

4) Sunglasses Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: One of your best friends is one of their best friends. You send a lot of Snaps to someone they also send a lot of Snaps to. 

6) Red Heart Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends (yellow heart status) with this user for two weeks in a row.

7) Pink Hearts Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends with this user for two months in a row.

8) Fire Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You and this user are on a Snapstreak — you’ve been sending each other Snaps for several days in a row. The number of days you’ve been on a Snapstreak will appear next to the fire emoji.

9) 100 Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’ve been on a Snapstreak with this user for 100 days in a row.

10) Hourglass Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Your Snapstreak with this user will end if you don’t send them a Snap very soon. You can send them a Snap or a Chat to keep it going.

11) Baby Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You and this user have recently added each other as Snapchat friends.

12) Gold Star Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Someone has replayed this user’s Snap within the past 24 hours.

13) Gold Sparkles Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’re in a Snapchat Group Chat with this user. Learn how to start a Snapchat Group in this article.

14) Birthday Cake Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Today is this user’s birthday. This emoji will only appear if the user indicated their date of birth in their Account information. Learn how to add your birthday to your account in this article.

How to Customize Snapchat Emojis

If these emojis aren’t speaking to you, you can change them within your Snapchat account. For example, your best friends could be represented by a pizza slice instead of a yellow heart if you really love pizza (and your friends, I suppose). Here’s how it’s done:

1) Open up your Snapchat app and swipe down. You’ll see your profile screen and Snapcode.

2) Tap the Settings gear in the upper right-hand corner.

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3) Select “Manage” under the “Additional Services” menu.

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4) Select “Friend Emojis.”

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5) From there, you can tap into each signifier and choose a new emoji to represent what it means.

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Source: Snapchat Support

And there you have it. We’ll keep this post updated with new developments in the world of Snapchat emojis. In the meantime, keep snapping to see how your emojis change, and let us know how long your longest snap streak is.

What’s your greatest Snapchat emoji achievement? Share with us in the comments below.

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10 of the Best Ads from March: Dinosaur Eggs, Shakespeare, and 80s Nostalgia

Feel like you missed the best agency projects, ad campaigns, and creative videos from this month? 

No worries — we’ve got you covered.

March brought us some delightfully unexpected ad concepts, including a floating house, a child replacement program for dog lovers, and an e-commerce version of Hamlet we didn’t even know we needed.  

We’re rounding up the best of March below.

10 of the Best Ads from March

1) Heinz

With AMC’s Mad Men celebrating the 10th anniversary of the premier this year, it seems like the perfect time to revive one of Don Draper’s memorable ad pitches: his rejected Pass the Heinz campaign.

Originally pitched in an episode of the hit drama by Draper’s fictional 1960s ad firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the print campaign features tantalizing close-ups of french fries, burgers, and steak, all missing one important thing: Heinz. The folks at (real-life) ad agency David Miami ran the exact designs from the show for the 2017 campaign, with approval and input from Mad Men’s original creator, Matthew Weiner.  

Image credit: Heinz/David Miami

 

2) YouTube

To promote their new six second ad format, YouTube enlisted help from a number of top agencies and filmmakers, asking them to develop ultra-short summaries of classic works of literature. The resulting 19 video campaign proves you can cram quite a lot of plot into just six short seconds.

From this minimalist take on Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, to this delightful puppy-version of Romeo & Juliet, there isn’t a single video in the bunch that isn’t worth watching more than once. But since we had to pick just one to showcase, we chose Rethink’s clever, e-commerce-driven retelling of Hamlet. Watch it below.

 

3) Telia

This comically cynical ad campaign for Swedish wireless company Telia warns us that not everything on the internet is actually as good in real life. Take cats for example: On the internet, cats are always up to some form of hilarious mischief. In real life? Not so much. 

“Most of Telia’s competitors tell people to turn their devices off every now and then, to ‘carpe diem’ and all that crap,” Martin Ringqvist of Swedish agency Forsman and Bodenfors told Adweek. “We decided to go the other way — to embrace the wonderful life online and to wash away people’s bad conscience. Because life, at least sometimes, is way better on the mobile, isn’t it?”

 

4) CoorDown

The phrase “special needs” seems to float inevitably around every conversation about people with disabilities. This ad for CoorDown, Italy’s national organization for people with Down Syndome, wants to us to ask ourselves: Is it really fair to characterize the needs of people living with disabilities as “special?” Don’t they need what everybody else needs?

Produced by Publicis New York, the extended spot stars Glee’s Lauren Potter, who discusses some needs that would actually be fair to classify as “special”, such as eating an exclusive diet of dinosaur eggs, or necessitating regular massages from a cat masseuse. 

 

5) Leroy Merlin

In this cinematic ad for French home improvement retailer Leroy Merlin, agency BETC Shopper chose a poetic metaphor to reflect the sometimes turbulent process of renovating a home: a house floating on the sea.

The video follows a young couple as they go through the (sometimes literal) ups and downs of repairing their modest house — their triumphs and setbacks illustrated by the unpredictable waters they float on. It’s an ambitious campaign that took an expert team of divers, drones, and helicopters to execute. 

 

6) Dominos

In a resolute appeal to 1980s nostalgia, CP+B produced a nearly shot-for-shot remake of the famous running home scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Joe Keery, of the 80s-era Netflix drama Stranger Things, stands in as Ferris, racing home to greet the Dominos delivery guy. 

The ad gets major points for attention to detail, packing in every fence jump, trampoline bounce, and sidewalk sprint from the original. And although the original Ferris — Matthew Broderick — never makes an appearance (as he did in this similarly Bueller-inspired Honda campaign from 2012), we do get a cameo from Alan Ruck, who played Ferris’ reluctant pal Cameron.

 

7) Pedigree

What do you do when your beloved son or daughter leaves for college and the empty nest syndrome starts sinking in? Replace your kid with a dog, says this new Pedigree spot from Colenso BBDO.

The cheekily named “Child Replacement Program” campaign is running in New Zealand, where Colenso BBDO creative group head Simon Vicars says many members of the country’s aging population could benefit immensely from the company of a new four-legged friend. 

 

8) National Canadian Film Day

If you’re going to trust one person to give you an honest film review, shouldn’t it be someone who’s literally incapable of lying? 

Leo Burnett developed this quirky ad to promote National Canadian Film Day, and cast Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh as “the woman who can’t lie.” 

 

9) Aardman Animations

The studio behind Wallace & Gromit released this clever, animated take on client conference calls that will certainly get some knowing chuckles from agency folks. In “Visualise This,” the group debates the merits of various abstract strategies (“We need something big! Something epic!”) without ever getting into specifics or details. It’s not just funny, it’s an impressive demonstration of what Aardman is capable of. 

“I really wanted to create a piece that could showcase a variety of disciplines I’ve learnt along the way at Aardman, as well as my passions and influences in street culture,” said Aardman designer and director Danny Capozzi, in an interview with Adweek. “Around this same period, I had a series of perplexing conference calls, and that’s when the lightning bolt hit me, to merge the spitballing and often circular nature of a call with a scatter gunning of eye-candy visuals.”

 

10) State Street Global Advisors

On International Women’s Day, Wall Street awoke to a new resident: The Fearless Girl, a bronze statue of a defiant young girl facing down the famous “Charging Bull” statue.

Developed by McCann New York for its client State Street Global Advisors, the relatively small statue was intended to spark a big conversation around female leadership in business.

 “We are firm believers in the principles of stewardship,” State Street Global Advisors chief marketing officer Stephen said in an interview with Adweek. “And we want to reflect that in everything we do — especially as it pertains to our commitment in ESG [environmental, social and governance] investing. The placement of ‘The Fearless Girl’ in the epicenter of the world’s financial capital helps not only promote our commitment to women in leadership today and tomorrow, but it also establishes an interesting emotional and rational aspect to responsible investing.”

What were your favorite agency projects from March? Let us know in the comments.

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9 Creative Snapchat Ideas for Brands

Snapchat boasts 160 million highly engaged users who like watching and engaging with billions of photos and videos per day.

Suffice it to say, social media marketers need to capture and maintain the attention of their followers. But how exactly do you make that happen?

Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. 

Below, we’ve featured nine ideas for how to make your snaps more creative and engaging, and examples from real brands to inspire you. And if you’re looking for more brands to follow for ideas, might we suggest adding HubSpot on Snapchat?

9 Snapchat Ideas for Brands

1) Geofilters

Geofilters are a fun way to share a time and place with your followers. Remember, brand social media accounts take followers to places they can’t go themselves, so a Geofilter from an interesting place gives your brand personality and drives its cool factor.

Here’s an example of a Snapchat Story using a Geofilter. The New York Times (@thenytimes) shared a Story from Hyde Park in London about one reporter’s visit to a new exhibit at Kensington Palace. Pretty cool, right?

Try using a Geofilter the next time you’re snapping from a unique location your followers might be interested in. You can access Geofilters by recording a video or taking a photo, then swiping left on your screen until the filter you want to use appears.

Brands can make Geofilters featuring their logo and branding to pop up around its facilities by submitting them to Snapchat — learn more about that process here.

2) Event Tags

Like Geofilters, Event Tags take Snapchat followers to a cool event and give them a behind-the-scenes look. Mashable (@mashable) took its followers onto the red carpet of The Brit Awards in the Story below. While you might not have access to red carpets, try snapping from your next company event or a conference you attend to give your followers the inside scoop.

Find event tags using the same process as Geofilters — swipe left until you find the tag you want to use. And like Geofilters, businesses can create unique tags for events and meetings — learn how to do it here.

3) Emojis

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In case you missed it, the above “sentence” says that emojis are great. In emoji language, of course.

Emojis offer hundreds of different symbols brands can use to embellish their snaps to make them more fun and engaging. Here’s how Infatuation (@infatuation) did it in their Snapchat Story:

Emojis are featured in a ton of marketing campaigns these days, so try using them in your next few Snaps to tell more with pictures than words. Drop an emoji or two into your next snap by tapping the sticky note icon once you’ve captured a photo or video on Snapchat. Check it out:

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4) Bitmojis

Bitmojis are friendly avatars we can create to look and dress like us for use in texting, messaging apps, and social media. Snapchat users can now add their Bitmoji to snaps, too. Here’s what (or rather, who) mine looks like:

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Brands can use Bitmojis to add personalization. Each day, the Snapchat library of Bitmoji options adjusts — there are Monday-themed avatars about the woes of the weekend ending, and Wednesday avatars about making it halfway through the week, for example. They add humor and a “reaction” within the snap itself to make it more memorable and human, too.

When you record a Snapchat, you can either choose a Bitmoji from the sticky note emoji menu (as demonstrated above), or you can do what MTV (@mtv) did and use a Bitmoji filter. Swipe left once you’ve captured a snap to see what your Bitmoji is up to.

5) Text

If you haven’t already heard, listening to videos is going out of style: Many social media users prefer to watch videos without the sound turned on. Snapchat lets you add text to photos and videos to provide context for your followers — without them having to pop in their headphones.

Here’s how NASA (@nasa) did it in their Snapchat coverage of a breaking news story:

To add text to your next snap, capture your photo or video, then tap the “T” icon — one tap will let you caption your video, and two taps will let you use bigger, bolder letters on the entire screen.

6) Circular Video

Have you checked out Snap Spectacles yet? They’re Snapchat-capable sunglasses that let wearers film in 360-degree circular video. Spectacles also make videos more interactive and responsive for the viewer — check out this example of a 360-degree Spectacles video that General Electric (@GE) shared. 

The Spectacles make snaps reformat whether the viewer’s phone is vertical, horizontal, or spinning their phone around — as I was when I filmed this screen capture: 

If you’re curious about Spectacles, you can buy them online here.

7) Lenses

Snapchat lenses are another way to make your images and videos more creative, and brands can purchase Sponsored Lenses to promote products and events. The price of these might be prohibitively expensive for most brands to create unique ones — they’re typically hundreds of thousands of dollars — but that doesn’t mean brands can’t get in on the fun.

Here’s an example of how Refinery29 used lenses to spice up a simple selfie interview with a musician. The lenses made the videos fun and interesting to listen to and watch, and they were free to use, too.

Snapchatters can access the lenses only when the camera is self-facing. Then, hold a finger over your face until the lens options appear at the bottom of your screen. Here’s me turning on the lens options, and you can see what a sponsored lens from Almay looks like:

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8) Hyperlapse and Slow Motion

When you film a video on Snapchat, you can filter it so it plays extra quickly, or in slow motion. This is a cool feature to make your Snapchat Story shorter or to break down a cool process your followers might want to see. Show a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of a product or event faster or slower to clue followers in to what your brand is all about.

Here’s an example of Hootsuite using the hyperlapse feature to speed up the setup process for an interview the brand featured on Snapchat:

To speed up or slow down your video snaps, swipe left on your screen after you’ve recorded until you find the rabbit icon (hyperlapse) or the snail icon (slow motion).

9) Ask for Interaction

A simple way to earn engagement from your followers on Snapchat? Ask for it.

Use text, narration, or emojis to ask your Snapchat followers to reply with a snap of their own, or to screenshot your content. It’s a fun way to interact with viewers, and it helps marketers see how much of their content is actually resonating.

Aer Lingus did this masterfully with its Snapchat trivia Story below:

These are a few simple ways you can spice up your snaps with creativity to engage your followers and, hopefully, to attract more. If you’re looking for more ideas for your brand’s Snapchat strategy, check out our Snapchat for Business guide here.

Which of these tactics do your favorite brands use on Snapchat? Share with us in the comments below.

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4 Internal Struggles Great Leaders Must Overcome

Some leadership challenges are predictable: inspiring your team, guiding organizational change, prioritizing the right things at the right time.

Other challenges are less expected, and don’t always become apparent until you’re forced to face them head-on. 

4 Internal Struggles All Great Leaders Must Overcome

1) Combating the Consequences of Isolation

It turns out it really is lonely at the top. Underneath all the perks of power, there lurks a pervasive and potentially debilitating sense of isolation that can compromise a leader’s ability to pilot their organization effectively. That fancy corner office might seem like a sanctuary at first, but the distance it could wedge between you and your employees might have far-reaching, negative consequences.

Executive isolation occurs when leaders become less connected to their organizations’ day-to-day operations. While some level of disconnect from on-the-ground activities is benign and expected (leaders are responsible for focusing on the big picture, after all), too much can cause problems.

Being isolated at the top can compromise your decision making and leadership effectiveness, both of which require having as much firsthand information about a situation as possible,” wrote author and business consultant Ron Ashkenas.

So how can leaders prevent isolation from impairing their judgment? Step outside of the executive bubble and make interacting with people at every level of your organization part of your routine. You don’t need to go full-on Undercover Boss, but make an effort to connect with people outside of your regular circle of advisors to get some raw insight into how the company is doing. 

2) Fighting Cynicism to Build Authentic Relationships

A study conducted by M. Ena Inesi of London Business school and Adam D. Galinsky of Kellogg Graduate School of Business found that holding a position of power actually alters an individual’s response to generosity and kindness, making them more suspicious and cynical of others’ motivations.

In the study, participants were asked to describe a recent favor they’d received. The descriptions were notably free from power dynamics, with most people describing something nice someone had done for them without pretext — like babysitting their kids or feeding their cats while they were on vacation. 

Next, half of the participants were given an exercise to make them feel more powerful. When this group was asked to recall the same favors they’d described earlier, they were significantly more concerned about the motivations behind the favor. Those who did not complete the power-increasing exercise didn’t have the same reaction when asked to describe their favors again — they remained unconcerned about the motivations.

“When individuals have power, they know they are more likely to be the target of opportunists, who use kind words and seemingly selfless acts not for altruistic reasons but to further their own selfish goals,” Inesi and Galinsky wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Those in power often over-apply this principle and become more suspicious of any kind acts they are offered, irrespective of the source.”

This (possibly even subconscious) suspicion can stunt a leader’s ability to form meaningful connections with those around them, since they’re always preoccupied with the motivations behind acts of kindness.

To fight through the psychological strain, leaders need to make a conscious shift to catch themselves when they start to slip into cynical patterns. Recognizing that you’re giving in to potentially toxic thoughts is the first step to combat them and change your behavior.

3) Embracing Dissent

Once they ascend to positions of power, most people become worse listeners, a study found. Research published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes revealed a negative relationship between subjective feelings of power and use of advice — in other words, the more powerful a person feels, the less likely they are to seek out and actually listen to advice from those who disagree with them.

This phenomenon can cause some leaders to surround themselves primarily with yes-sayers and cheerleaders for their own causes. While it’s comforting and natural to build up a circle of like-minded individuals, trapping yourself in an echo chamber of people who always agree with you won’t help you — or your organization — solve problems or grow. The best way for your team to support you is to disagree with you.

Robin D. Richards, the CEO and chair of CareerArc Group, has made dissent part of his company’s regular work flow, encouraging employees at all levels to offer up opposing viewpoints and ideas. “Our main mantra is speed, respect and an obligation to dissent,” Richards said in an interview with The New York Times. “Don’t have a meeting with your boss where you agree with him on everything he says. If you have an obligation to dissent, then we get the best minds and we get the best outcomes. People like living in that environment. They feel valuable. People become fearless.”

Seeking out constructive dissent isn’t necessarily an easy task, especially for executives at the very top of their companies. Subordinates tend to inherently present an agreeable view on things, shielding their leaders from many of the nitty-gritty details. Leaders who want to escape the echo chamber need to actively seek out differing opinions.

It’s not enough to ask your current advisor to just start challenging you more (although this can be helpful). You need to connect with people both within and outside of your company from diverse backgrounds who can not only challenge your beliefs, but also share new viewpoints you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

4) Balancing Confidence and Collaboration

Lawrence Levy, a Harvard Law School graduate who was hired by Steve Jobs in the 1990s as CFO and member of the Office of the President of Pixar Animation Studios, has seen first-hand how great leaders need to find a healthy balance between confidence and collaboration to succeed.

Extraordinary leaders, Levy wrote in Harvard Business Review, “believe they know best about how their ideas should be realized and won’t let up until their high standards are met.” But they still need more than sheer confidence and raw vision to steer their organizations toward success. They need collaboration to get things done.

The challenge for self-assured leaders, Levy explained, is that the same self-confidence enabling them to make bold decisions also inherently hurts their ability to collaborate, take constructive criticism, and avoid confirmation bias.

So how can leaders collaborate without compromising their vision? In addition to surrounding themselves with a diverse group of advisors, leaders need to practice open-mindedness and humility when soliciting advice from others. Levy recounts how Steve Jobs “had a very small circle of hand-picked advisor and put aside his stubborn intensity to pay attention to their advice.

Even Jobs — who was known for his sometimes extreme pursuit of personal visions — knew there was incredible value in setting aside his preconceived notions to hear what other people had to offer — even just temporarily.

What unexpected challenges have you overcome in a leadership role? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Use Hashtags on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

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

For a long time, the hashtag symbol (#) was known simply as the “pound” symbol. Now, I could swear that the only time I hear it referred to as a pound symbol is when I enter my PIN number to pay my cell phone bill. Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar template.

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

What Does ‘Hashtag’ Mean?

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

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

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

What Makes Hashtags So Great?

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

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

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

Hashtags are often used to unite conversations around things like …

  • Events or conferences, like #INBOUND17 or #Rio2016
  • Disasters or emergencies, like #Aleppo or #PrayForNice
  • Holidays or celebrations, like #WorldNutellaDay or #NationalCatDay
  • Popular culture topics, like #GameofThrones or #PokemonGO
  • General interest topics, like #WinterWonderland or #ChocolateLovers
  • Popular hashtags, like #tbt or #MotivationMonday

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

How Hashtags Work On Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

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

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

1) How Hashtags Work on Twitter

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

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

motivationmondaytrends.png

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

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

motivationmondayphotos.png

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

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

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How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

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

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

How to Find Hashtags on Twitter

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

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

twittersearchlinds.png

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

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

Twitter Advanced Search.png

The results show up in a stream with different toggle options, just like our original hashtag search.

motivationmondaysad.png

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

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

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

If you’re searching for popular hashtags from scratch, the best place to look is the trending topics bar on the left-hand side of your homescreen. Popular hashtagged words often become trending topics — which are topics so many people are talking about that they are a “trend.” The topics bar will also show you if accounts you follow are tweeting about the trending topics.

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

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

Twitter Chat Hashtags

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

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

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

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

tweet-chat-schedule.png

2) How Hashtags Work on Facebook

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

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

motivationmondayfb.png

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

  • Top: A stream of Facebook posts using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement — which usually means posts from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers — and your Facebook friends posting using the hashtag.
  • Latest: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag, usually by influencers, brands, or publishers — like a fitness guru posting an instructional workout video.
  • People: People on Facebook with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here.
  • Photos: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag that have photos in them.
  • Videos: A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag that have videos in them.

videosfb.png

  • Shop: Pages can now sell their products directly to Facebook users using this feature. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here.
  • Pages: This tab shows Facebook Pages associated with or posting about the hashtag you’ve searched for.
  • Places: Places in the world with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here.
  • Groups: Groups with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
  • Apps: Facebook apps with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
  • Events: Facebook events with a name officially associated with the hashtag.

How to Use Hashtags on Facebook

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMensHealth%2Fvideos%2F10157696907465207%2F&show_text=1&width=560

How to Find Hashtags on Facebook

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

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

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You can also search for a hashtag by typing it directly into a URL like so: facebook.com/hashtag/InsertHashtagHere. So #MotivationMonday can be found at http://www.facebook.com/hashtag/MotivationMonday.

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

While most trending topics on Twitter are mostly hashtags, this is not usually the case on Facebook. You’ll see that none of the trending topics below are hashtags:

trendingfb.png

3) How Hashtags Work on Instagram

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

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

IGpic1.jpg

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

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

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

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

 

⬆️ #motivationmonday

A photo posted by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Dec 12, 2016 at 5:04am PST

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

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

IGpic2.png

How to Find Hashtags on Instagram

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

IGpic3.jpg

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

Go to the “Explore” tab by clicking that magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen. Check out posts there to browse trending hashtags by scrolling down.

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What About Using Hashtags “in the Wild”?

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

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

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Are You an Intelligent Marketer? [Infographic]

Intelligent-Marketer

Marketing is no longer the art form it once was. Today, the companies working relentlessly to master digital marketing are responsible for gathering, analyzing, and applying the data they produce to raise their game. All the while, laggards in the number-crunching revolution are vulnerable to losing to brands that value marketing analytics and make it an essential part of the way they operate.

While the practice of collecting and mining data to inform marketing strategy is now baked into many business strategies, there’s still immense room for improvement in turning intelligence into actionable insights.

In my work with Alexa — whose tools focus on optimizing SEO and PPC strategy — I dug deeper into five digital marketing analytics areas, interviewing experts in SEO, conversion rate optimization, PPC, social media marketing, and email marketing. And I’ve organized those findings into one helpful guide: How the Pros Turn Marketing Analytics into Effective Marketing Strategies.

If you’re looking for a sneak preview, check out the infographic below. This graphic covers fascinating data regarding the application of marketing intelligence and insights around the trials and tribulations companies encounter as they evolve their data-driven initiatives. 

Take a look and consider where your company stands. Have you managed to use marketing intelligence to improve your ROI and accelerate your success?

Intelligent Marketer Infographic

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