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How to add music to an Instagram Story

Adding music to your Instagram Story can give it more impact and add to its chances of success. Whether you want to add summery vibes to your holiday pics with a chilled out pop melody,, or create an atmospheric mood for arty images, adding audio can make all the difference. Instagram has made it super-simple to do this, so here’s a look at how to make your next Instagram Story literally sing.

Adding music to your Instagram Story

Create your Story in the usual way. Then, before you post it to Instagram, look to the top of your screen to see a musical note icon button.

Tapping the musical note starts your journey.

Tapping the musical note starts your journey.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / Instagram

Tap this and Instagram will show you your musical options.

Will you browse, or let Instagram choose "For you"?

Will you browse, or let Instagram choose “For you”?
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

These include two automatically generated lists. One is a selection of tracks that Instagram has suggested “For you,” and the other is a list you can browse. You can also use the search box at the top of the page to search for a specific track.

If you want to hear what a song sounds like, you simply need to tap the play arrow to the right of the track information.

Listen first.

Listen first.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

Once you’ve selected your song you can use the slider at the bottom of your screen to choose which section of the song your post uses. For image posts, this is a 15-second snippet. For video posts it’s the full runtime of the video.

Snip snip.

Snip snip.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

Where available, the lyrics for the song you have chosen automatically show over your image, but you have some further options to consider as to how this looks and how your post appears.

You can change the style of the font by tapping the button with the different sized “AA” at the bottom of your screen.

It's Instagram. Looks matter.

It’s Instagram. Looks matter.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

And you can change the color of the text by tapping the color wheel at the top of your screen.

Pick your font color.

Pick your font color.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

If you don’t want the lyrics to appear over your post you can instead choose to have a small music credit badge appear.

Also a good option if there are no lyrics.

Also a good option if there are no lyrics.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

Or you can choose to display the album art instead.

Treat that album art like, you know, art.

Treat that album art like, you know, art.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

You can find these options by swiping along to the end of the font options at the bottom of your screen.

Swiping along the end of the font options gets you here.

Swiping along the end of the font options gets you here.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / INSTAGRAM

When you’re happy with your choices simply hit the “Done” button at the top right of your screen to send your musical Instagram Story live.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.mashable.com

Facebook's response to Biden and his COVID misinfo criticism is a big miss

Facebook should be more transparent about COVID-19 misinformation.

President Biden has really gotten under Mark Zuckerberg’s skin.

On Friday, a reporter asked Biden what he would say to platforms like Facebook when it came to COVID misinformation. Biden’s response: “They’re killing people.”

Facebook’s rebuttal was quick.

“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement to Mashable that afternoon. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.”

Facebook attempts an offensive

Facebook wasn’t done there though.

On Saturday, the company dropped a follow-up by it’s VP of Integrity Guy Rosen. His post, titled “Moving Past the Finger Pointing: Support for COVID-19 vaccines is high on Facebook and growing,” was published on the Newsroom section of the website.

“At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” Rosen begins. “While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic. And facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort.”

Rosen goes on to focus on a survey Facebook conducted with Carnegie Mellon University and University of Maryland which finds that “85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

“President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4,” Rosen writes, speaking of the Biden administration’s failed target in its battle against COVID-19. He concludes: “Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”

The survey is questionable. Wouldn’t those who have been vaccinated be more likely to take this survey? But, first, let’s get this out of the way. There are a myriad of reasons why the Biden administration is struggling to get 70 percent of the country vaccinated. As Rosen points out, other countries such as Canada and the UK have blown past that vaccination rate.

For one, these countries do not have to deal with the vaccine disinformation being beamed onto the TV sets of millions of people in the form of Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Politicians in this country have hyper-politicized the issue. Florida Governor Ron Desantis, a Republican, released a line of anti-vaxxer-esque merchandise just this past week.

So, of course, Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed. But, it’s surely a reason.

Facebook’s selective data

Facebook hones in on its stat that “more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook.”

That’s well and good. But how many people have viewed anti-vaccination, COVID denying conspiracy theories on Facebook? Does the good Facebook says it does outweigh the negative? The answer: We don’t know. Facebook does not release this data.

Facebook shares that it has “removed over 18 million instances of COVID-19 misinformation” since the beginning of the pandemic. The company says it has also “labeled and reduced the visibility of more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content debunked by our network of fact-checking partners so fewer people see it.”

When touting that 3.3 million Americans used their vaccine finder tool, a Facebook spokesperson said “[he facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”cking partners got a hold of it? How many people saw it and never caught the fact check? We just don’t know.

Facebook does not release stats related to content reach, or how many people viewed a piece of content on its platforms. This actually became a point of contention inside the company, as Kevin Roose of The New York Times recently reported.

Roose created a Twitter account which used Facebook’s Crowdtangle platform to share which Facebook Pages had the top posts each day. Crowdtangle is a platform that Facebook provides to researchers and journalists where they can sift through data related to posts and pages on Facebook and Instagram. Roose’s Twitter account based the top performing pages on engagement, or how many people interacted with the content — a data point which Facebook provides.

The account showcased just how often right wing pages, which regularly post conspiratorial content and misinformation, make up the top-performing content on the platform.

Roose’s Twitter account caused issues within Facebook. Company executives had felt reach would be a better data point than engagement and there was a push to provide more data to researchers…until Facebook discovered that the same types of accounts were dominating in reach too. So, Facebook turned against Crowdtangle, a tool that actually provides transparency, rather than the issue itself and decided it would fight back with messaging using data it selects.

One of the results of this: The post we see from Facebook, using such selective data to push back against the Biden administration.

Facebook won’t tell us

Even if Facebook’s argument is that the company is doing everything correctly now, the fact is that the algorithm it created, which continues to award reactionary content — i.e. conspiracy theories, misinformation — that receives the most engagement, undermines positive efforts. Also, there’s plenty of damage done before corrective actions can be taken in the first place.

When touting that 3.3 million Americans used their vaccine finder tool, a Facebook spokesperson said “[t]he facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

With more than 320 million people living in the U.S. and a vaccination rate currently sitting at less than 50 percent, how many more Facebook users were served up misinformation which could’ve played a role in a decision to not get vaccinated? How much of that misinformation was recommended to them via Facebook’s algorithm?

Facebook could share this information and dispel Biden’s accusations. But, we just don’t know because Facebook won’t tell us.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.mashable.com

What Is Email Throttling and How Does It Affect Email Marketing?

Email deliverability is one of the most critical factors for a successful email marketing strategy. After all, if your emails don’t even make it to the inbox, then they can’t inspire the action you want from your recipients. In this blog post, we’ll cover what email throttling is and how to avoid it.  What’s Email…

The post What Is Email Throttling and How Does It Affect Email Marketing? appeared first on Benchmark Email.

Reblogged 5 days ago from www.benchmarkemail.com

Three Insights I Gained While Researching Vue.js Accessibility

JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular and Vue have a very bad reputation when it comes to web accessibility. But is this due to inherent technical limitations or insurmountable problems of those tools? I think not. During the research phase of my book, “Accessible Vue,” I gained three insights regarding web app accessibility in general and the framework in particular. Considering these, perhaps it’s worth taking another perspective around accessible Vue apps.

Insight 1: JavaScript Framework Features For Accessibility Are Underused

Component-based design, enabled and enforced by modern JavaScript frameworks, does not only provide great developer experiences and project ergonomics when used in a smart way, but it can also offer advantages for accessibility. The first is the factor of reusability, i.e. when your component gets used in several places within your app (perhaps in different forms or shapes) and it only has to be made accessible only once. In this case, an increased developer experience actually helps the user and “baking accessibility into components” (as Hidde de Vries puts it) creates a win-win scenario for everyone.

The second aspect that comes with component based-designs are props — namely in the form that one component can inherit or get context from its parent environment. This forwarding of “environment data” can serve accessibility as well.

Take headlines, for example. A solid and comprehensible headline structure is not only good for SEO but especially for people using screen readers. When they encounter a sound document outline, constructed with headlines that structure a web page or app, screen reader users gain a quick overview of the web page they are on. Just like visually-abled users don’t read every word on a page but scan for interesting things, blind screen reader users don’t make their software read each and every word. Instead, they are checking a document for content and functionality they are interested in. Headlines, for that matter, are keeping pieces of content together and are at the same time providing a structural frame of a document (think timber frame houses).

What makes headlines providing a structure is not only their mere existence. It is also their nesting that creates an image inside a user’s mind. For that, a web developer’s headline toolbox contains six levels (<h1> to <h6>). By applying these levels, both editors and developers can create an outline of content and a reliable functionality that users can expect in the document.

For example, let’s take the (abridged) headline tree from the GOV.UK website:

1 — Welcome to GOV.UK
  2 — Popular on GOV.UK
  2 — Services and information
    3 — Benefits
    3 — Births, deaths, marriages and care
    3 — Business and self-employment
    // …etc
  2 — Departments and policy
    3 — Coronavirus (COVID 19)
    3 — Travel abroad: step by step
…etc

Even without visiting the actual page and without actually perceiving it visually, this headline tree created a table of contents helping you understand what sections can be expected on the front page. The creators used headline elements to herald data following it and didn’t skip headline levels.

So far, so familiar (at least in correlation with search engines, I guess). However, because a component can be used in different places of your app, hardwired headline levels inside them can sometimes create a suboptimal headline tree overall. Relations between headlines possibly aren’t conveyed as clear as in the example above (“Business and self-employment” does not stand on its own but is related to “Services and information”).

For example, imagine a listing of a shop’s newest products that can be placed both in the main content and a sidebar — it’s quite possible that both sections live in different contexts. A headline such as <h1>Our latest arrivals</h1> would make sense above the product list in the main content — given it is the central content of the whole document or view.

The same component sporting the same <h1> but placed in a sidebar of another document, however, would suggest the most important content lives in the sidebar and competes with the <h1> in the main content. While what I described above is a peculiarity of component-based design in general this gives us a perfect opportunity to put both aspects together — the need for a sound headline tree and our knowledge about props:

Context Via props

Let’s progress from theoretical considerations into hands-on code. In the following code block, you see a component listing the newest problems in an online shop. It is extremely simplyified but the emphasis is on line 3, the hardcoded <h1>:

<template>
    <div>
        <h1>Our latest arrivals</h1>
        <ol>
            <li>Product A</li>
            <li>Product B</li>
            <!-- etc -->
        </ol>
  </div>
</template>

To use this component in different places of the app without compromising the document’s headline tree, we want to make the headline level dynamic. To achieve this, we replace the <h1> with Vue’s dynamic component name helper called, well, component:

<component :is="headlineElement">Our latest arrivals</component>

In the script part of our component, we now have to add two things:

  • A component prop that receives the exact headline level as a string, headlineLevel;
  • A computed property (headlineElement from the code example above) that builds a proper HTML element out of the string h and the value of headlineLevel.

So our simplified script block looks like this:

<script>
export default {
    props: {
      headlineLevel: {
        type: String
    },
    computed: {
        headlineElement() {
          return "h" + this.headlineLevel;
        }
    }
}
</script>

And that’s all!

Of course, adding checks and sensible defaults on the prop level is necessary — for example, we have to make sure that headlineLevel can only be a number between 1 and 6. Both Vue’s native Prop Validation, as well as TypeScript, are tools at your disposal to do just that, but I wanted to keep it out of this example.

If you happen to be interested in learning how to accomplish the exact same concept using React, friend of the show magazine Heydon Pickering wrote about the topic back in 2018 and supplied React/JSX sample code. Tenon UI’s Heading Components, also written for React, take this concept even further and aim to automate headline level creation by using so-called “LevelBoundaries” and a generic <Heading> element. Check it out!

Insight 2: There Are Established Strategies To Tackle Web App Accessibility Problems

While web app accessibility may look daunting the first time you encounter the topic, there’s no need to despair: vested accessibility patterns to tackle typical web app characteristics do exist. In the following Insight, I will introduce you to strategies for supplying accessible notifications, including an easy implementation in Vue.js (Strategy 1), then point you towards recommended patterns and their Vue counterparts (Strategy 2). Lastly, I recommend taking a look at both Vue’s emerging (Strategy 3) and React’s established accessibility community (Strategy 4).

Strategy 1: Announcing Dynamic Updates With Live Regions

While accessibility is more than making things screen reader compatible, improving the screen reader experience plays a big part of web app accessibility. This is rooted in the general working principle of this form of assistive technology: screen reader software transforms content on the screen into either audio or braille output, thus enabling blind people to interact with the web and technology in general.

Like keyboard focus, a screen reader’s output point, the so-called virtual cursor, can only be at one place at once. At the same time, one core aspect of web apps is a dynamic change in parts of the document without page reload. But what happens, for example, when the update in the DOM is actually above the virtual cursor’s position in the document? Users likely would not notice the change because do not tend to traverse the document in reverse — unless they are somehow informed of the dynamic update.

In the following short video, I demonstrate what happens (or rather, what not happens) if an interaction causes a dynamic DOM change nowhere near the virtual cursor — the screen reader just stays silent:

In this case, you need to establish at least two refs: One for the trigger button that opens the navigation (let’s call it navTrigger), and one for the element that gains focus as soon as the navigation is visible (navContainer in this example, an element which needs tabindex="-1" to be programmatically focusable). So that, when the trigger button is clicked, the focus will be sent into the navigation itself. And vice versa: As soon as the navigation closes, the focus must return to the trigger.

After having read the paragraphs above, I hope one thing becomes clear for you, dear reader: Once you understand the importance of focus management, you realize that all the necessary tools are at your fingertips — namely Vue’s this.$refs and JavaScript’s native .focus()

Conclusion

By highlighting some of my core findings regarding web app accessibility, I hope that I have been able to help reduce any diffuse fear of this topic that may have existed, and you now feel more confident to build accessible apps with the help of Vue.js (if you want to dive deeper into the topic, check out if my little ebook “Accessible Vue” can help you along the journey).

More and more websites are becoming more and more app-like, and it would be sad if these amazing digital products were to remain so barrier-laden only because web developers don’t know exactly where to start with the topic. It’s a genuinely enabling moment once you realize that a vast majority of web app accessibility is actually “good old” web accessibility, and for the rest of it, cowpaths are already paved.

Reblogged 5 days ago from smashingmagazine.com

12 Impressive Ways to Start a Cover Letter [+ Examples]

According to Career Builder, 40% of recruiters look for a cover letter when they’re considering job applicants.

But if you had to flip through a hundred cover letters a day, and each one began, “To whom it may concern, I am applying for the digital marketing position at your company,” how important would you rank them?

A cover letter might not always be the most important thing to a hiring manager, but if your resume or connections aren’t enough to get you through the door, a powerful cover letter could be what gets you an interview.

For instance, a hiring manager might only read your cover letter if your resume raised questions about why you’re applying for the position, or why you’re leaving your current role. In these cases, your cover letter can be a crucial factor in whether or not you move forward in the hiring process.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your personality, display your interest in the job, and include relevant information that otherwise wouldn’t be surfaced in your application. But there’s a fine line between standing out and coming across as brash or gimmicky. An ideal cover letter leaves the hiring manager with a positive and memorable impression of you, something a resume alone won’t always do.

So, where do you begin when writing a cover letter? More specifically, where should your beginning begin? Recruiters read a ton of cover letters — especially if the company is growing quickly and hiring non-stop. What does this mean for you? You need to get their attention right away. To help you overcome writer’s block, and hook your reader right away, take a look at some sharp opening sentences you can use for inspiration.

Read on to find out eight ways to grab an employer’s attention with an exceptional cover letter introduction.

Featured Resource: 5 Free Cover Letter Templates

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How to Start a Cover Letter

1. Start with humor.

Employers are humans too, and they’ll often appreciate a good joke, pun, or funny opening line as much as the next person. If done tastefully and respectfully, starting your cover letter off with a joke can be an excellent way to stand out.

Plus, a joke can still include a powerful explanation for why you’re the right person for the job, without coming off as boastful. For instance, think about something you love to do or something you’re really good at, and then imagine how friends or family might make a joke about it — if you’re really good at analyzing data, for example, a joke or pun related to that might be a good way to exemplify both your skills and personality.

Here’s a good example of using humor to bring attention to your skills, from The Muse (you’ll notice this is one of our picks for most creative opening lines, earlier in this article):

“I considered submitting my latest credit card statement as proof of just how much I love online shopping, but I thought a safer approach might be writing this cover letter, describing all the reasons why I’m the girl who can take Stylight’s business to the next level.”

Right away, the personality displayed here grabs the reader’s attention. Even better, this applicant uses humor to convey an important message to the employer — she loves shopping, and she’s well-versed in ecommerce as a consumer — which might’ve otherwise not come up on her resume or phone screening.

2. Start with passion.

For an employer to know you’ll stay dedicated to the role and company, they’ll want to ensure you’re passionate about what the job entails. Passion is more incentivizing than a paycheck.

For an employer, demonstrating how your passion matches the required skillset is a promising sign that you’d enjoy your job — if you enjoy your job, you’re more likely to stick around longer, help drive company growth, and become a dedicated member of the team.

Consider starting your cover letter with a few lines that showcase your passion: “I’ve been passionate about writing since I was ten years old. My love for writing has led me to write two personal travel blogs, get published in a local newspaper, and pursue two summer internships at publishing firms. Now, I’d love the opportunity to combine my writing skills with my interest in storytelling as a content marketer at Company A.”

If you don’t have extensive work experience in the industry you’re trying to break into, but you’ve been unofficially preparing for years, let the employer know. In the above example, the candidate’s resume would probably look weak, with only internships indicating professional experience. Her cover letter introduction, however, shows the employer she’s been writing for audiences and advancing her natural ability for years.

3. Start with an accomplishment.

Employers like seeing numbers. It isn’t enough to mention you’re a “digital marketer with proven success in SEO strategies.” Proven success? Okay, can we see?

It’s more powerful to provide statistics. You want to show the employer you’re capable of solving for long-term results. How have you contributed to your company’s bottom line? For instance, did your Facebook marketing campaign grow your social media following, or has your blog content increased organic traffic?

Consider starting your cover letter with something like this: “Over the past year as digital marketing manager at Company A, I’ve generated $30k+ in revenue, increased organic traffic to our blog by 14%, and almost tripled our social media ROI.”

Even if you don’t have the work experience to report impressive numbers, you can still offer proof when opening with an accomplishment. Think about the qualitative feedback you’ve received from employers. For instance, how would your boss compliment you or tell you you’re doing a good job? An accomplishment can be as simple as your boss sending you an appreciative email regarding your diligent meeting notes.

In this example from The Muse, the applicant provides an example of a skill for which he’s been previously acknowledged: “My last boss once told me that my phone manner could probably diffuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communicating with people — the easygoing and the difficult alike — and I’d love to bring that skill to the office manager position at Shutterstock.”

Even though the applicant doesn’t offer numbers as proof of success, they do manage to highlight some proof of their past performance in the form of a former boss’s praise. The candidate’s candid and funny explanation — that his last boss liked his phone manners — is another good way to brag about accomplishments without, well, bragging.

4. Start with excitement for the company.

Employers want to know why you like their company, and they’ll appreciate an explanation on why you’re interested. But it’s imperative your reasoning is thoughtful and considerate, and specific to the company. For instance, if you’re applying for a financial position, don’t write about your interest in finance; write about how your interest in finance relates to the company’s goals.

You don’t want to just say, “I’m excited to work at Company A because I’m passionate about finance, and I think my skills and experiences will be a good match.” Sure, you’ve explained why you want to work in the financial industry, but you’ve done nothing to explain why Company A specifically suits your interests.

Instead, you’ll want to mention something about the company and culture in correlation to your interest in finance. Take a look at this example from Glassdoor: “When I discovered Accounting Solutions was hiring, I knew I had to apply. I’ve been waiting to find a company where I feel like I can make a difference while working as an accountant. Not only are your clients awesome, but the overall mission of your company is something I believe in, too.”

This candidate shows they’ve done their research and care about Accounting Solutions in particular. Remember, employers want to hire people who have a demonstrated interest in working at their company. They want someone who will enjoy the nature of the work, but just as importantly, they want a candidate who enjoys the work culture and the company mission as well.

5. Start with news about the company.

Mentioning company news in your introduction indicates you’ve done research on the company. Plus, including company news might give you the chance to incorporate your own values, as well. If the company just won an award for its innovative solutions in the computer industry, for instance, you might add how you value forward-thinking methods in technology, as well.

Here’s an example of an introduction that uses a newsworthy event, from Indeed: “When I saw that Company ABC was featured in Fortune Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace — all while experiencing triple-digit revenue growth — I was inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by 30%+ and promoting greener workplaces, I’m excited about the possibility of taking on the account executive role to expand your company’s growth and work towards a more sustainable future.”

The candidate does a good job demonstrating how Company ABC’s news aligns well with the candidate’s personal achievements. She shows she’s done her research on the company, and also indicates she values similar environmental efforts in the workplace.

6. Start with what they don’t know.

According to one seasoned hiring manager, a cover letter that begins, “I am writing to apply for [open position] at [name of company]” is grounds for nearly instant rejection. Of course you’re applying for this job — why waste your lede with something so boring and obvious?

Your cover letter should never directly state what they already know — or restate what’s already listed on your resume. Instead, start your cover letter by offering something new, expanding on what the employer already knows about you, and presenting new details about what you can bring to the company. Impress employers by telling them something about your skills or experiences they don’t already know.

To offer new information not displayed on his resume, one of my colleagues at HubSpot wrote this cover letter introduction: “My resume will tell you I’m Content Marketing Certified. Your records will tell you I’ve interviewed for a few different HubSpot positions in the past. What neither one will tell you is that I’ve been working with your customer success team to build a new campaign strategy for my company–one of your latest (and largest) clients.”

The candidate wrote an introduction that captured the reader’s attention and demonstrated he wasn’t interested in wasting anyone’s time. This is a memorable and impressive tactic. Consider writing a similar introduction, where you provide information absent from your resume.

7. Start with what you can bring to the table.

A hiring manager here at HubSpot told me she always looks for cover letters to tell her how the company and applicant can benefit each other.

Any employer is going to want to know why you think you can grow from the position you’re applying to. An employer is more inclined to hire you if she thinks you have a genuine, intrinsic motivation to work hard in the role.

A hiring manager is also going to want to know how you’ll contribute to the company’s larger vision and goals. It’s important for the manager to know what you want to get out of the role, but it’s equally important to know how you’ll help the company grow. How will the company benefit from you, over someone else?

Here’s an example: “I am seeking opportunities to improve my writing ability in a forward-thinking environment while growing organic traffic and optimizing content to beat out competitors in search engines. At Company A, I believe I will find that match.”

See how it works? In the example above, the candidate explained how she’d benefit from the role. She also explained what Company A could get out of the transaction — increased organic traffic, and optimized content — so the hiring manager is informed of the equality of the potential relationship.

8. Start with a statement that surprises them.

When applying for a role at HubSpot, one of my colleagues began her cover letter like this: “I like to think of myself as a round peg thriving in a square hole kind of world.”

Doesn’t that make you want to keep reading? It certainly kept me interested. Of course, you’ll only want to include a bold statement if you can follow it up with some concrete supporting information. My colleague, for example, continued by writing this: “What does this mean? It means that my diverse background makes me a well-rounded candidate who is able to comprehend, develop and execute various functions in business.”

While the rest of her cover letter veered on the side of professional, her opening line was casual, quirky, and surprising. Plus, you feel her personality in the line, and when an employer feels like a real person is behind the cover letter, she’s going to want to keep reading.

9. Start with a lesson you’ve learned in your career.

A great way to start a cover letter is with a lesson you’ve learned in your industry from your experience.

For example, you might say something like, “As a [current job position] with high-level management experience in the [industry], I learned that the best way to achieve success was to [biggest lesson you’ve learned].”

This opening sentence lets a recruiter know your experience level. Not only that, but it starts off with how you can benefit the company, not how the company will benefit you.

10. Start off with intrigue.

When you’re applying to larger corporate companies, you know that recruiters are getting hundreds of applicants for one entry-level position.

It’s important to intrigue the hiring manager and recognize that they’re looking at several applicants.

For example, you could say, “I understand that you have been deluged with resumes since you’ve been listed as one of the best companies to work for. Mine is one more, but I do have experience that is hard to come by.”

After this, it’d be great to list examples, stats, and experience that set you apart from other candidates and will benefit the company.

Recruiters see countless resumes and cover letters every day. It’s important to start your cover letter in a unique way so you can stand out amongst the crowd.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Professional Cover Letter Templates

Reblogged 6 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

Pack Up the Big Top: Insights from MozCon Virtual 2021’s Grand Finale

And just like that, MozCon Virtual 2021 has come to an end. Over the past three days, we’ve seen incredibly insightful presentations on everything from content marketing, to machine learning, to new and exciting SEO tips and tricks. A big thank you to all our speakers, emcees, attendees, and volunteers in front of and behind the camera. It wouldn’t be MozCon without you!

Check out our recaps from day one and day two, and if you missed day three, read on for top-level takeaways! But to get the most out of this year’s MozCon content, make sure to access the video bundle when it goes on sale Friday, and stay tuned for details on MozCon 2022 —

— that’s right! We’ll be back live and in-person next year in Seattle. Can’t wait to see you all there!

Tom Capper — The Fast & The Spurious: Core Web Vitals & SEO

“What if I told you that Core Web Vitals, and this update, are a bluff?”

Tom sure did kick off day three by blowing our minds with his opening line — the update everyone has been obsessing over for the last year isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be?

Well, sort of.

It turns out we can’t afford to call Google’s bluff, but we can “sort of cheat”. Tom went on to lay out the flaws of Core Web Vitals, which all add up to the fact that they actually encourage terrible optimizations.

So what’s taking so long? As we all know, this roll out has been delayed multiple times. Tom uses a brilliant example of the classic prisoner’s dilemma to explain why:

As it turns out, Google has been contradicting themselves when talking about CWV because they can’t actually roll out updates that undermine the quality of their services — they’re relying on us, the SEOs, to act as the prisoners in their big dilemma of rankings.

<So do Core Web Vitals actually matter? Should we care? Yes and no. Page speed continues to be something we need to worry about, but with CWV, the average increase in ranking for sites that don’t already rank won’t be very much at all.

Tom advised SEOs to take advantage of Google Discover, which is actually a massive, untapped traffic opportunity as it’s more responsive to speed than organic search.

Before he signed off, Tom reiterated:

  1. Prioritize high traffic pages

  2. Metrics can be gamed/optimized

  3. Don’t do any of this at the expense of speed

We won’t dig into the how for all of this here, so definitely check out his presentation in the video bundle!

Luke Carthy — The Ultimate How-To for Faceted Navigation SEO in E-Commerce

After an introduction that got the whole chat laughing (“Hi, I’m Morgan Freeman. Welcome to the afterlife.”), Luke Carthy showed us how he generated a 25% increase in organic traffic using faceted navigation.

Wait, what’s faceted navigation? You’ve definitely run into it if you’ve ever shopped online. Think about the stores that allow you to filter and sort your search. Behind that search is a faceted nav, defining, filtering, and sorting URLs on a website.

If it’s so common, what’s wrong with it? As Luke explains, faceted navs generate hundreds of long, parameterized, filtered URLs. It’s messy, it’s bloated, and bots can’t easily crawl them.

SEOs tend to counteract this bloat by “nofollowing the shit out of” faceted URLs. But when we do that, all of that long-tail gold disappears.

So what’s the solution? As Luke says, “It’s all about balance!”

(Side note: how cute is this photo??)

Luke shared some ways to “make facets sexy” by:

  • Understanding your site’s taxonomy
  • Using filters only to add granularity
  • Using “-” (dash) instead of “_” (underscore)
  • Filtering parameter URLs in GA to spot opportunities
  • Using a consistent structure
  • Limiting indexable parameter options

There were a bunch more actionable tips in this presentation, but we won’t spoil it all for you!

Miracle Inameti-Archibong — Harnessing the Natural Language Toolkit for More Productive SEO

In her quick presentation, MozCon newcomer Miracle walked us through ways to use Natural Language Processing to do our SEO tasks — like keyword research — and even shared some of her own resources to help us do it!

With Miracle’s comprehensive Natural Language Processor with Python, you can analyze up to 10,000 keywords with the click of a button and group them based on category, frequency, and search intent. Don’t worry — even if you aren’t a programmer, Miracle’s scripts are easy enough to plug and play so you can start analyzing immediately.

Miracle then walked us through how to get the script up and running step-by-step. The results were mind-bending. In just a few short clicks, she produced a wealth of keyword data sure to fuel some brilliant strategies and ideas.

To be honest, there was so much information in such a short time frame, this is one we’ll have to revisit again to absorb every tip possible, but click below to access Miracle’s scripts:

Amanda Milligan — A Live Guide to Finding & Filling the Gaps in Your Link Strategy

Amanda kicked off her first MozCon presentation by reiterating the importance of quality over quantity, to the tune of enthusiastic cheers from the MozCon chat box. In today’s climate, quality content is what will get you that authority and trustworthiness today’s marketers (and Google) crave. Quantity may give you a short term boost, but it won’t last and it won’t compound.

But Google is just a robot and they base their assumptions on links: Who owns them and who links to whom? If your competitors are ranking on time.com and you aren’t, then Google will see your competitors more favorably and rank them higher in the SERP.

Amanda reminds us that these gaps are opportunities. If your competitor can get a link on Time.com, then so can you!

Amanda jumps straight to Moz Pro’s Link Intersect — “This tool was made for this kind of analysis!” — measuring up Chewy.com to competitors Petco.com and Petsmart.com to reveal the places where Chewy’s competitors link, but Chewy doesn’t.

One such article on CNN.com links to Petsmart and Petco and features a very cute guinea pig in a suit of armor — is it possible for Chewy to obtain a link to CNN? Yes!

Developing the content is only half the battle. Once you have something you think will resonate, it’s time to start pitching, which is arguably “where many link builders fall short.” In the pitching process, Amanda offers a fool proof plan of attack: “Pitch your content exclusively at first, and then once published, you can begin to take it elsewhere.” Publishers love exclusive content because they can leverage it to drive more views to their own content.

Amanda also drives home another link building golden rule: make sure you research and position your pitches and tailor them to the publisher. Gone are the days of mass outreach, and that won’t serve you well in the long run.

Once you’ve done the work, it’s time to track and record your progress. Take note of all the places your content shows up (anchor text, images, etc.) or whether it is do-follow or not.

Check out Amanda’s Whiteboard Friday on crafting the perfect pitch email for more tips!

Lily Ray — From the Medic Update to Now: How the E-A-T Ecosystem Has Transformed Organic Search

Lily Ray has been studying the evolution of Google and E-A-T for a few years now, and in this presentation, she outlined key changes in how Google perceives content – specifically when it comes to the rise of misinformation.

Since 2016, and especially in the last year, more people turn to Google for information on things like politics, vaccines, COVID, and other important topics. This makes it increasingly necessary for Google to surface reliable information. In times of crisis, things become even more critical, and according to the data, Google begins to favor more authoritative sources versus relevant sources. We don’t know exactly how this is determined, but in her study, the data shows that Google favorably ranks content from reputable sources for potentially controversial keywords.

If there is one thing that Lily wants us to walk away with, it’s the “E-A-T matters in crisis”, and is Google’s quality standard for evaluating content, authors, and websites.

As a result of this, Google saw a sharp decline in search visibility for questionable news sources, which then expanded to include health and science sites, regardless of the technical optimization on those sites.

Lily digs into keyword comparisons, showing how more authoritative sites became increasingly more visible between 2018 and 2021.

Most of the sites that lost visibility were doing some questionable things including:

  • Leveraging questionable authors

  • Had poor reputations

  • Published deceptive content

  • Lacked sufficient sources

  • Published dangerous medical advice

  • Included hate speech

  • Included excessive affiliate or sales links

From there, Lily dug into 10 key ways Google has changed, and we encourage you to check out her slides and take a look for yourself.

What do all these changes mean for SEO? The landscape is more complex and competitive than ever, so it’s important to be reasonable with your organic search goals and always put E-A-T at the forefront of your SEO Strategy.

Kameron Jenkins — The Content Refresh: How to Do More With Less

Kameron Jenkins is no stranger to content. She manages multiple blogs and currently works for e-commerce powerhouse, Shopify.

When it comes to content, she knows that the best way to regain lost traffic and give your content new life is through a content refresh. In her presentation, she walked us through her exact process for identifying and updating old content. Surprisingly, most content marketers only dedicate 10-25% of their time to content refreshes, even though a content refresh can lead to more ROI in the long term.

How do you identify the content that could benefit from a refresh? Look at your Google Analytics Landing Page report alongside Google Search Console, and prioritize content based on goal conversions, trending topics, and business priorities.

Next, it’s time to refresh. When moving into the execution, you’ll want to ask yourself three key questions:

  • What’s table stakes?

  • What will give you the competitive advantage?

  • And what will maximize conversions?

Other content refresh opportunities to look out for are consolidation, query targeting, and internal linking.

How can you stand out from the competition in your content refresh? Incorporate original research and expert quotes to beef up the authority and originality of your post.

Lastly, maximize your conversions by testing out your CTA placement and make your offers relevant to your audience.

She left us with some wise words of wisdom, “SEO is like owning a car. Even when the car is paid off, you still need to conduct regular maintenance to keep that engine running.”

Wil Reynolds — The 3 Most Important Search Marketing Tools…Your Heart, Your Brain, & Your [Small] Ego

Wil brought the energy yet again for his ninth MozCon presentation, closing out the conference with a bang. His message was simple yet powerful: Your top three tools are your heart, your brain, and your small ego. But what does that mean, exactly?

Small ego

Wil began by introducing the concept of intellectual humility, or the recognition that some of the things you believe just might be wrong. He urged us to listen to the people around us who say there’s a better way — even brand-new coworkers or recent college grads whose ideas you might otherwise discount.

And don’t feel badly that you might be wrong — Wil posits that not knowing your own ignorance is just part of the human condition. He shared a quote from Upton Sinclair that was especially poignant:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Heart

A hundred years ago, no business needed SEO. They needed customers, profits, and sales. And as true then as it is now, they needed to know their customers.

One slide stood out loud and clear: The less you understand your customer, the more you spend to acquire them. And as Wil said, reports that lack dollar signs don’t land on real decision makers’ desks. Here’s where your brain comes in.

Brain

Wil presented a bit of a conundrum: making decisions based on your gut may be easy and comfortable, but it’s the data that gets you the insights you need to create and test hypotheses. However, exhaustive data — the kind of data where opportunity lives — is probably too big for your laptop to handle. What’s an SEO to do?

Of course he had answers! Wil’s suggestion was to harness the power of ngrams. With the help of a tool like PowerBI or BigQuery and using ngrams to examine all the search terms, you can find all your ranking results and see where your search term isn’t in the title.

There’s too much goodness to cram into a short recap, so you’ll definitely want to get yourself a copy of the MozCon video bundle when it’s ready for purchase. Until then, a few final suggestions from Wil:

  • Examining all your data is the only way to capture all your opportunities; resist the urge to pare it down to the top 20%. Every time you shrink your data down, you’re missing out on opportunities that someone else can see.

  • See every data set through a competitive lens: if all else is the same, how do you create value?

  • Combine your paid and SEO data together — get the dollar signs in those reports and get in front of key decision makers

  • Learn SQL. You’ll be able to search for exactly what you need within your own data, you won’t have to rely on others, and your hypotheses will benefit from your newfound data freedom.

  • Be brave enough to suck at something new. Stop doing the thing that you feel comfortable with. Run your own experiments and validate your hypotheses. It’ll be worth it in the end!

Thanks everyone for a wonderful show! And we’ll see you in person next year!

Reblogged 6 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

7 Fundamental Facebook best practices to grow your presence faster

Now’s the time to brush up on your Facebook best practices.

That’s because recent statistics highlight just how valuable the platform is for businesses today.

Consider that two-thirds of Facebook’s 2+ billion users interact with business Pages every week. From product research to customer service and beyond, growing a Facebook presence remains a must-do for brands.

But we’ll bite: competition is fierce and the algorithm is as fickle as ever.

Couple that with the fact that many brands still aren’t taking advantage of Facebook’s freshest features to engage customers.

That’s exactly why we put together this list of Facebook best practices to prioritize.

What are the most important Facebook best practices for business?

Below are seven crucial principles to stick to. With the help of these tips, you’ll learn:

  • How to publish content that earns you reach within the Facebook algorithm
  • Strategies for boosting your follower count and increasing audience engagement
  • Opportunities to fine-tune your content strategy and figure out what your followers want

And with that, let’s dive in!

1. Engage your followers without forcing them to leave Facebook

If you want to expand your reach and engagement on Facebook, you should strive to keep your interactions on Facebook.

Seems simple enough, right? But take note of how many brand accounts simply drop external link after external link.

Heck, you might notice firsthand that your link-based posts get little-to-no engagement. On the flip side, question-based posts are the ones that tend to crush.

Keeping users on-site is one of the biggest facebook best practices. Here is an example of In-N-Our Burgers asking followers a trivia question.

That’s no accident. Facebook tends to prioritize and rank content that keeps people on the platform. As a result, your content strategy should integrate a combination of the following:

  • Videos, images, memes or infographics that don’t link out anywhere
  • Questions and discussions among your followers
  • Requests for followers to share their experiences, photos and so on

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t publish external links at all: just don’t make them a cornerstone of your content calendar.

2. Use Stories to “skip the line” of the Facebook algorithm

As is the case of any social network, taking advantage of new, up-and-coming features is a smart move.

And while it took a while, Facebook Stories have finally become a staple of the platform and are being used en masse by brands.

In short, Facebook Stories allows you to publish short-form, off-the-cuff content that puts your brand front-and-center in your followers’ news feeds. This essentially allows you to bypass the Facebook algorithm and grab your followers’ attention as soon as you publish a new Story.

 

Screenshot of Facebook Stories above a user's newsfeed

The upside of Facebook Stories is that they aren’t spammy and don’t run the risk of flooding your followers’ feeds. As such, frequent Stories are fair game for supplementing your main feed.

If nothing else, regularly publishing Stories is a brilliant way to invite people to check out your latest posts without worrying as much about organic reach.

3. Prioritize positive, proactive content over clickbait

Relatively new among our Facebook best practices, the platform is explicitly asking brands to publish more “inspirational” and “uplifting” content.

This isn’t just fluff, though. Facebook is actively trying to change the climate of its network following scrutiny regarding misinformation and privacy concerns in recent years.

As a result, brands should avoid trying to needlessly stir the point or post controversial clickbait for the sake of engagement. Doing so could label you as a troublemaker on the platform.

The push to publish more positive content is a cue for companies to really think about how they contribute to their industries and communities at large.

If you’re stuck on what to post that could be classified as “inspirational,” consider any combination of the following:

  • Personal anecdotes and success stories
  • Meaningful tips, guides and resources for your followers
  • Q+A sessions that address your audience’s pain points

4. When in doubt, publish more video content

Facebook has been pretty transparent about how video is among the top-performing content on the platform.

From Facebook Live to short-form tips and tutorials, brands are spoiled for choice in terms of what they publish. If you already create social media videos elsewhere (think: Instagram or TikTok), chances are there are opportunities to cross-post your content.

Recent research in our Sprout Social Index™ also shows that video is most valuable for achieving social media goals.

Note that the platform themselves has a few of their own Facebook best practices when it comes to video, though. This includes:

  • Creating some sort of introduction for your video (an intro slide or greeting) to hook viewers from the beginning
  • An appropriate aspect ratio (1:1 or 9:16) for mobile devices given that most Facebook traffic comes via smartphones
  • Incorporating captions for the sake of accessibility, reaching viewers watching on silent mode and added entertainment value
GIF of a Peloton Facebook video with captions.

5. Create positive word of mouth through Groups and personal accounts

Keep in mind that your Page’s reach is always going to face an uphill battle if nobody else is promoting it.

Generating word of mouth and mentions from personal accounts is key to increasing your visibility on Facebook.

For example, it’s common for brands on Facebook to have employees share their latest posts and updates for additional reach. Through employee advocacy, you can exponentially reach more people than you could via your own followers.

Additional networking through Facebook Group marketing allows you to reach smaller but highly engaged niche audiences.

6. Answer your audience 24/7 with Instant Replies and Messaging features

Features such as Facebook Messenger empower your brand to engage with customers around the click and win new business without having to be available in real-time.

That is if you have your Instant Replies set up.

Canned messages that answer your customers’ most common questions such as your hours or availability mean that you never miss a prospect or lead when you’re “away” from your Page. Doing so shows that you’re actively trying to help customers and likewise encourages them to take the next steps toward making a purchase.

7. Regularly assess your Facebook performance via analytics

Finally, consider the role of data in fine-tuning your Facebook presence.

For example, do you know which types of posts score the most interactions? How long are people spending watching your videos? Are your followers up or down this week?

The good news is that figuring out the answers to all of the above is easier than ever.

For example, there are tons of built-in Facebook features such as Creator Studio which provides a comprehensive breakdown of all of your data points. This is especially handy if you’re running multiple Pages.

Screenshot of a Facebook Creator Studio dashboard

Oh, and also note how tools like Sprout Social can help you do the same.

The upside of our platform is that not only do you have all of your Facebook metrics in one place, but you can also optimize your content timing and manage all of your social assets together. Nice, right?

Sprout Social Facebook analytics Reports

Checking your data is among the most important Facebook best practices as doing so encourages you to optimize your presence for more interactions.

How to increase engagement when using Facebook for business

Let’s say that your Facebook Page is up and running but you’re still struggling to score that ever-so-important engagement.

Don’t panic. Piggybacking on the best practices above, here are some quick tips to maximize your reach and move the needle on your performance metrics.

Emphasize education throughout your Facebook content

Again, you can’t just drop links or general advice and expect much traction.

Publishing legitimately useful advice in a friendly, welcoming way is the way to go if you want to win on Facebook.

It’s all about finding a balance between positioning yourself as an industry player and entertaining your audience.

GIF of a Facebook education video example from Gymshark

Frequently ask questions and drive discussions among your followers

Integrating questions into your content strategy is a low-hanging way to get people buzzing your comments.

But again, you can’t just post general questions or fluff. You shouldn’t just publish engagement bait, either.

This post from Voodoo Doughnut is an awesome example of a thoughtful question that results in actual personalized, one-of-a-kind answers from followers.

Example of a Facebook question post

Anything that encourages people to speak their minds or make their voices heard is a plus. Of course, just make a point to keep it civil.

Come up with a consistent content calendar and publishing frequency

Consistency counts on Facebook and you can’t just post haphazardly.

Regular updates send a signal to Facebook that says you’re looking to participate in their platform and drive discussions. When done right, this results in reach.

How often should you post, though? The answer really depends on your resources. As highlighted in our guide to creating a social media content calendar, daily posting is a-okay. That said, don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

Similarly, research from our best times to post on social media highlights the publishing times for “optimal” engagement. Using these numbers as a general guide along with your own analytics, you can come up with a frequency that makes sense for your brand.

Posting during peak times is among the most important Facebook best practices

 

Respond to questions and comments (and talk to your followers like humans)

Interactions are a two-way street on Facebook. If you want more of ’em, make sure to respond to the engagements you’re already getting.

Personalized replies not only let your followers know that you’re listening but also serve as a way to highlight your brand voice and personality.

Example of a Facebook brand reply.

Have you mastered how to use Facebook for business?

Getting your Page off the ground is no small feat but doing so starts by understanding these Facebook best practices.

By sticking to them while experimenting with your content and tracking your data, you’ll be poised to rank in the algorithm and get the reach you’re looking for.

And speaking of data, make sure to check out our most recent report that highlights how businesses can better navigate the current social landscape.

The post 7 Fundamental Facebook best practices to grow your presence faster appeared first on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 week ago from feedproxy.google.com

How to build a case for expanding your social media department

What could you do with a larger social media department?

If you said “a lot,” you’re not alone. There is plenty of ground to cover in the ever-expanding world of social. Businesses are finally waking up to the fact that the days of posting the same message across a few platforms are gone. As social becomes the primary communication channel for more brands, the structure of your average social media team will need to change fast.

In the grand scheme of things, the social media profession is relatively new. Leaders who have worked in social since the beginning are now mapping uncharted waters, with critical questions to answer such as: How do I prevent burnout? What career paths can I create for my team? What comes next?

If you’re asking similar questions, it might be time to expand your social team. Keep reading for signs it’s time to grow your department, and advice on how you can build a rock-solid case for a new hire.

3 signs it’s time to expand your social media department

Hiring is a big decision. Recruiting is often a long and expensive process that takes time from multiple parties. That said, the costs of waiting can outweigh the costs of taking the leap. If you’re debating whether it’s time to post that job description, here are some key signs to look for:

1. Growth is stalling

Your output is consistent and you’re maintaining content quality, yet you’ve still stopped seeing growth toward your goal metrics. Growth lulls can stem from a lot of root causes, but if your team is stuck in one you can’t shake, bandwidth may be to blame.

How this helps your case

Social is constantly evolving, and what it takes to meet your goals today might be a fraction of what it will take tomorrow.  As consumer social media usage grows exponentially, establishing your brand as a market leader will only become more competitive.

A text-based graphic describing the rate at which social media usage is increasing across generations.

To maintain momentum, marketers will have to spend even more time combing through social data for insights on what’s resonating with customers. If there’s no time, then expanding your social media department is your only path toward ensuring you have resources dedicated to both strategy and execution.

2. You’re missing engagement opportunities

On average, brands receive 129 inbound engagements on social per day. The more people you reach, the more engagement you attract. Responding to every interaction can feel like an uphill battle, but engagement is too important to let fall by the wayside. If you’re unresponsive to your audience, it will be that much harder to build loyalty.

How this helps your case

There are several ways for customers to interact with your brand on social. Aside from the standard Likes and comments, they can leave reviews, share support requests and tag brands in praise (or in worse cases, complaints).

A chart describing what consumers and marketers believe make a brand best-in-class on social. Consumers rank customer service and engagement highest.

According to the 2021 Sprout Social Index™, consumers say that strong customer service and audience engagement are the two most important factors that make a brand best in class on social. As more consumers take their transactions online, social media responsiveness will continue to play a larger role in overall customer satisfaction.

3. No time for collaboration

Social media is a collaborative profession by nature. Social data can inform marketing, product roadmaps, competitive analyses, sales tactics and more. By the same token, team members beyond marketing can widen your perspective to refine your messaging and content decisions.

How this helps your case

According to 72% of executives surveyed, social data is already the top data source used to inform business decisions, even more so than market research. If your insights live in a marketing silo, your business risks losing sight of consumer interests.

Social can be transformative when managers have the time to share their reporting and collaborate with other leaders across a business.

Questions to guide your growth strategy

Many considerations go into expanding a team. When it comes to social media departments, where career paths are often ambiguous, there are even more questions to answer. New hires change team dynamics, opening paths toward specialization and creating renewed interest in career development.

But growth is not a standard process. Your expansion strategy should tightly align with the current and future needs of your business and industry. For example, the growth trajectory of a social department for an ecommerce brand will look entirely different from a team working in higher education. Where one might be looking for a strategist to plan social commerce initiatives, the other will probably see a larger need for a community manager to connect with current and prospective students.

To find out what roles might make the biggest impact on your business, ask the following questions:

  • What is the biggest opportunity you’re currently not taking advantage of? The nagging item on your to-do list. The project you’d love to kick off if only you had the time. The tweaks you know would give your KPIs a boost. As a social media manager, your answer to this question is probably a mile long, so focus on what you believe would make the biggest impact on your brand.
  • How would you like to expand your skills? Planning to expand a social media department can jumpstart a renewed interest in your own career progression. Picture where you’d like to see yourself in three to five years. Your answer will help you identify key growth areas, as well as some responsibilities that might make sense to offload onto a new employee.
  • Where do you think the future of social is headed? The only constant in social media is change. Platforms, features and trends can take off overnight, meaning social marketers always need to be one step ahead of the curve. If you have big bets on how social will evolve—and how that may impact your brand—be sure to take them into account.
  • Where is your business headed? Hire with the future in mind. Product launches, market expansion and new business opportunities all have a hand in the future of your social strategy. As businesses continue to go all-in on social, marketers will find themselves even more involved in the strategic initiatives that drive brands forward, which can result in new or shifting priorities.

Once you’ve answered these questions, ask the rest of your team. That’s not limited to direct reports either. Frequent collaborators (or those you wish you had time to collaborate with) will provide new perspectives that can create a more holistic case for expansion.

Making the case to leadership

Justifying an increase in headcount is always difficult, especially when you’re meeting your goals. Between salaries, benefits and equipment, staffing costs add up fast. To get the green light, marketers must sell a data-informed vision of what your team could accomplish with more hands on deck. Here’s how to get it done:

Don’t let it be a surprise

Making the case to expand your social media department will not be a one-and-done conversation. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to kick off a meeting with an ask of that size only to be met with a resounding yes.

Instead, build your case over time with multiple stakeholders. When speaking with senior leadership, make sure they’re aware of the business impact that’s caused by lack of bandwidth. This will make hiring a natural evolution of an ongoing conversation, rather than an unanticipated request.

Paint a specific vision

Rather than focusing on what your team has been able to achieve thus far, share what you could achieve with an increase in staff. Use your answers to the questions above to share what your team will do with an extra 40 hours of dedicated resources.

This is where your social data comes into play. If you understand how your team’s KPIs ladder up to broader marketing and company goals, then you probably know which drivers help you hit those goals. For example, if you’re trying to increase website traffic, you know what levers you can pull to boost visitors.

Use this top-down approach to justify the headcount increase, so that leaders can better understand the business value a new hire will bring.

Highlight the risks

Due to the “always on” nature of the job, social media professionals are at high risk of burnout. Burnout creates flight risks. Research shows that the cost of replacing an experienced employee can range from half to two times that employee’s annual salary. To put it simply: ignoring the problem can and will cost more in the long run.

If you and your team have been battling an unsustainable workload for a while, give your leadership team some insight into the situation. Walk them through the steps you’ve taken to solve the problem, and explain why hiring is the only viable path toward balance.

Building your dream team

There is no one-size-fits-all social media team structure, but with some vision, strategic planning, and leadership buy-in, you can make it to your dream state. Now that you know how to make your case for expansion, it’s time to design a role that will make an impact.

If you’re in need of inspiration, check out this guide to social media org charts. Inside, you’ll find insights from the social marketing leaders behind Kaplan, Cielo Talent and VMWare, as well as their takes on what future social media org charts will look like.

The post How to build a case for expanding your social media department appeared first on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 week ago from feedproxy.google.com

The 8 Most Common Leadership Styles & How to Find Your Own [Quiz]

“A good leader should always … “

How you finish that sentence could reveal a lot about your leadership style.

Leadership is a fluid practice. We’re always changing and improving the way in which we help our direct reports and the company grow. And the longer we lead, the more likely we’ll change the way we choose to complete the sentence above.

But in order to become better leaders tomorrow, we need to know where we stand today. To help you understand the impact each type of leader has on a company, I’ll explain what a leadership style is, then share eight of the most common types and how effective they are.

Then, I’ll show you a leadership style assessment based on this post’s opening sentence to help you figure out which leader you are.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Leadership Style

Knowing your leadership style is critical because it can help you determine how you affect those whom are under your direct influence. How do your direct reports see you? Do they feel you’re an effective leader?

It’s always important to ask for feedback to understand how you’re doing, but knowing your leadership style prior to asking for feedback can be a helpful starting point. That way, when you receive junior employees’ thoughts, you can automatically decide which new leadership style would be best and adopt the style’s characteristics in your day-to-day management duties.

Knowing your leadership style may also remove the need for getting feedback. Each leadership style has its pitfalls, allowing you to proactively remediate areas of improvement. This is critical because some employees might hesitate to speak up, even in an anonymous survey.

Ready to find out which leadership style you might currently have? Check out the eight most common ones below.

1. Democratic Leadership

Commonly Effective

Democratic leadership is exactly what it sounds like — the leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member. Although he or she makes the final call, each employee has an equal say on a project’s direction.

Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows lower-level employees to exercise authority they’ll need to use wisely in future positions they might hold. It also resembles how decisions can be made in company board meetings.

For example, in a company board meeting, a democratic leader might give the team a few decision-related options. They could then open a discussion about each option. After a discussion, this leader might take the board’s thoughts and feedback into consideration, or they might open this decision up to a vote.

2. Autocratic Leadership

Rarely Effective

Autocratic leadership is the inverse of democratic leadership. In this leadership style, the leader makes decisions without taking input from anyone who reports to them. Employees are neither considered nor consulted prior to a change in direction, and are expected to adhere to the decision at a time and pace stipulated by the leader.

An example of this could be when a manager changes the hours of work shifts for multiple employees without consulting anyone — especially the affected employees.

Frankly, this leadership style stinks. Most organizations today can’t sustain such a hegemonic culture without losing employees. It’s best to keep leadership more open to the intellect and perspective of the rest of the team.

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Sometimes Effective

If you remember your high-school French, you’ll accurately assume that laissez-faire leadership is the least intrusive form of leadership. The French term “laissez-faire” literally translates to “let them do,” and leaders who embrace it afford nearly all authority to their employees.

In a young startup, for example, you might see a laissez-faire company founder who makes no major office policies around work hours or deadlines. They might put full trust into their employees while they focus on the overall workings of running the company.

Although laissez-faire leadership can empower employees by trusting them to work however they’d like, it can limit their development and overlook critical company growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s important that this leadership style is kept in check.

4. Strategic Leadership

Commonly Effective

Strategic leaders sit at the intersection between a company’s main operations and its growth opportunities. He or she accepts the burden of executive interests while ensuring that current working conditions remain stable for everyone else.

This is a desirable leadership style in many companies because strategic thinking supports multiple types of employees at once. However, leaders who operate this way can set a dangerous precedent with respect to how many people they can support at once, and what the best direction for the company really is if everyone is getting their way at all times.

5. Transformational Leadership

Sometimes Effective

Transformational leadership is always “transforming” and improving upon the company’s conventions. Employees might have a basic set of tasks and goals that they complete every week or month, but the leader is constantly pushing them outside of their comfort zone.

When starting a job with this type of leader, all employees might get a list of goals to reach, as well as deadlines for reaching them. While the goals might seem simple at first, this manager might pick up the pace of deadlines or give you more and more challenging goals as you grow with the company.

This is a highly encouraged form of leadership among growth-minded companies because it motivates employees to see what they’re capable of. But transformational leaders can risk losing sight of everyone’s individual learning curves if direct reports don’t receive the right coaching to guide them through new responsibilities.

6. Transactional Leadership

Sometimes Effective

Transactional leaders are fairly common today. These managers reward their employees for precisely the work they do. A marketing team that receives a scheduled bonus for helping generate a certain number of leads by the end of the quarter is a common example of transactional leadership.

When starting a job with a transactional boss, you might receive an incentive plan that motivates you to quickly master your regular job duties. For example, if you work in marketing, you might receive a bonus for sending 10 marketing emails. On the other hand, a transformational leader might only offer you a bonus if your work results in a large number of newsletter subscriptions.

Transactional leadership helps establish roles and responsibilities for each employee, but it can also encourage bare-minimum work if employees know how much their effort is worth all the time. This leadership style can use incentive programs to motivate employees, but they should be consistent with the company’s goals and used in addition to unscheduled gestures of appreciation.

7. Coach-Style Leadership

Commonly Effective

Similarly to a sports team’s coach, this leader focuses on identifying and nurturing the individual strengths of each member on his or her team. They also focus on strategies that will enable their team to work better together. This style offers strong similarities to strategic and democratic leadership, but puts more emphasis on the growth and success of individual employees.

Rather than forcing all employees to focus on similar skills and goals, this leader might build a team where each employee has an area of expertise or skillset in something different. In the long run, this leader focuses on creating strong teams that can communicate well and embrace each other’s unique skillsets in order to get work done.

A manager with this leadership style might help employees improve on their strengths by giving them new tasks to try, offering them guidance, or meeting to discuss constructive feedback. They might also encourage one or more team members to expand on their strengths by learning new skills from other teammates.

8. Bureaucratic Leadership

Rarely Effective

Bureaucratic leaders go by the books. This style of leadership might listen and consider the input of employees — unlike autocratic leadership — but the leader tends to reject an employee’s input if it conflicts with company policy or past practices.

You may run into a bureaucratic leader at a larger, older, or traditional company. At these companies, when a colleague or employee proposes a strong strategy that seems new or non-traditional, bureaucratic leaders may reject it. Their resistance might be because the company has already been successful with current processes and trying something new could waste time or resources if it doesn’t work.

Employees under this leadership style might not feel as controlled as they would under autocratic leadership, but there is still a lack of freedom in how much people are able to do in their roles. This can quickly shut down innovation, and is definitely not encouraged for companies who are chasing ambitious goals and quick growth.

Leadership Style Assessment

Leaders can carry a mix of the above leadership styles depending on their industry and the obstacles they face. At the root of these styles, according to leadership experts Bill Torbert and David Rooke, are what are called “action logics.”

These action logics assess “how [leaders] interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged.”

That’s the idea behind a popular management survey tool called the Leadership Development Profile. Created by professor Torbert and psychologist Susanne Cook-Greuter — and featured in the book, Personal and Organizational Transformations — the survey relies on a set of 36 open-ended sentence completion tasks to help researchers better understand how leaders develop and grow.

Below, we’ve outlined six action logics using open-ended sentences that help describe each one. See how much you agree with each sentence and, at the bottom, find out which leadership style you uphold based on the action logics you most agreed with.

1. Individualist

The individualist, according to Rooke and Tolbert, is self-aware, creative, and primarily focused on their own actions and development as opposed to overall organizational performance. This action logic is exceptionally driven by the desire to exceed personal goals and constantly improve their skills.

Here are some things an individualist might say:

Individualist 1: “A good leader should always trust their own intuition over established organizational processes.”

Individualist 2: “It’s important to be able to relate to others so I can easily communicate complex ideas to them.”

Individualist 3: “I’m more comfortable with progress than sustained success.”

2. Strategist

Strategists are acutely aware of the environments in which they operate. They have a deep understanding of the structures and processes that make their businesses tick, but they’re also able to consider these frameworks critically and evaluate what could be improved.

Here are some things a strategist might say:

Strategist 1: “A good leader should always be able to build a consensus in divided groups.”

Strategist 2: “It’s important to help develop the organization as a whole, as well as the growth and individual achievements of my direct reports.”

Strategist 3: “Conflict is inevitable, but I’m knowledgeable enough about my team’s personal and professional relationships to handle the friction.”

3. Alchemist

Rooke and Tolbert describe this charismatic action logic as the most highly evolved and effective at managing organizational change. What distinguishes alchemists from other action logics is their unique ability to see the big picture in everything, but also fully understand the need to take details seriously. Under an alchemist leader, no department or employee is overlooked.

Here are some things an alchemist might say:

Alchemist 1: “A good leader helps their employees reach their highest potential, and possesses the necessary empathy and moral awareness to get there.”

Alchemist 2: “It’s important to make a profound and positive impact on whatever I’m working on.”

Alchemist 3: “I have a unique ability to balance short-term needs and long-term goals.”

4. Opportunist

Opportunists are guided by a certain level of mistrust of others, relying on a facade of control to keep their employees in line. “Opportunists tend to regard their bad behavior as legitimate in the cut and thrust of an eye-for-an-eye world,” Rooke and Tolbert write.

Here are some things an opportunist might say:

Opportunist 1: “A good leader should always view others as potential competition to be bested, even if it’s at the expense of their professional development.”

Opportunist 2: “I reserve the right to reject the input of those who question or criticize my ideas.”

5. Diplomat

Unlike the opportunist, the diplomat isn’t concerned with competition or assuming control over situations. Instead, this action logic seeks to cause minimal impact on their organization by conforming to existing norms and completing their daily tasks with as little friction as possible.

Here are some things a diplomat might say:

Diplomat 1: “A good leader should always resist change since it risks causing instability among their direct reports.”

Diplomat 2: “It’s important to provide the ‘social glue’ in team situations, safely away from conflict.”

Diplomat 3: “I tend to thrive in more team-oriented or supporting leadership roles.”

6. Expert

The expert is a pro in their given field, constantly striving to perfect their knowledge of a subject and perform to meet their own high expectations. Rooke and Tolbert describe the expert as a talented individual contributor and a source of knowledge for the team. But this action logic does lack something central to many good leaders: emotional intelligence.

Here are some things a diplomat might say:

Expert 1: “A good leader should prioritize their own pursuit of knowledge over the needs of the organization and their direct reports.”

Expert 2: “When problem-solving with others in the company, my opinion tends to be the correct one.”

Which Leader Are You?

So, which action logics above felt like you? Think about each sentence for a moment … now, check out which of the seven leadership styles you embrace on the right based on the sentences you resonated with on the left.

Action Logic Sentence Leadership Style
Strategist 3 Democratic
Opportunist 1, Opportunist 2, Expert 1, Expert 2 Autocratic
Diplomat 2, Diplomat 3, Expert 1 Laissez-Faire
Strategist 1, Strategist 2, Alchemist 3 Strategic
Individualist 1, Individualist 2, Individualist 3, Alchemist 1, Alchemist 2 Transformational
Diplomat 3 Transactional
Diplomat 1 Bureaucratic

The more action logics you agreed with, the more likely you practice a mix of leadership styles.

For example, if you agreed with everything the strategist said, this would make you a 66% strategic leader and 33% democratic leader. If you agreed with just the third statement, but also everything the alchemist said, this would make you a 50% transformational, 25% strategic, and 25% democratic leader.

Keep in mind that these action logics are considered developmental stages, not fixed attributes — most leaders will progress through multiple types of leadership throughout their careers.

Know Your Leadership Style to Become a Better Leader

Knowing your leadership style can put you on the path to become a more effective leader. Whether you manage a big or small team, your style heavily impacts how your direct reports see you and how effectively your team works together to achieve your company’s goals.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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