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We are entering the final quarter of the year. Nine months removed from the enthusiasm and focus of January. Between challenging clients and shifting deadlines, clarity can be evasive. Here are the five quotes that every entrepreneur and business owner should internalize to finish 2016 as strong as they started:

  1. “If you don’t pay the price for success, you’ll pay the price for failure.” – Zig Ziglar

Zig Zigler success quote

2. “Do not confuse having a good day with having good habits.” – Mikhail Bell

 

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3. “A business is just a context for doing interesting things.” – Tim O’Reilly

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4. “Legacy is greater than currency.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Legacy vs Currency Gary Vaynerchuk quote ParkerMather

5. “One of the most supernatural things you can do is be consistent.” – Mikhail Bell

Motivation quote Mikhail Bell

You have just over 116 days between you and 2017. Make them count. Take action.

Onward,

Team ParkerMather

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I apologize for not sharing more useful advice sooner. The last few months have been full of incredible change and reflection, which is making the second half of 2016 much more interesting. In the few moments of down time, I wanted to share a little bit of knowledge.

I read blog posts and listen YouTube for over an hour each day. One common trait is the theory without an example. We learned this when we wanted to write killer essays for the SAT, GRE, and GMAT. We forgot when around the time we started receiving our second salary (Job #2).

Here are 4 ways to improve your video and photo content on social media:

  1. Organize your YouTube content using playlists

Imagine discovering an incredible clothing store and finding out all the clothing is in an unsorted pile. You would probably walk out nearly as quickly as you arrived, and never recommend it to friend. You would, however, have a good happy hour story.

Every time you upload videos to your YouTube channel, you do this to your audience. YouTube Playlist Example - Tonight Show.png

2. Humanize your voice

Sylvia Matthews Burwell heads the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard and Oxford, worked at McKinsey and is a Rhodes scholar. Secretary Burwell uses emoji.

More: Humanizing your voice

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3. Captions 

You may have to load a script but captions can elevate (and translate) your content. Make sure this addition does not compromise the overall quality (example below).

Bonus: Here is YouTube’s simplified video on adding captions.

 

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4. Put a photo on it

Tweets with media (photos or Gifs) have higher engagement rates. Use pithy messaging, find a complementary photo, and mention the source.

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I always appreciate hearing from ParkerMather visitors. You can find me on Twitter at @bellsworld.

 

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What is Branding? Branding is at the heart of digital communications as new communities emerge and existing communities grow.

Branding is about standing out from the crowd. However the most attractive brands participate in their community and have a clear value add. Here’s how you can create a digital media brand.

Determine your value proposition.

A value proposition is a statement that describes how your product or service benefits your target audience. In short, what do you add to this community?

Harvard professor John Kotter’s 1995 treatise Leading Change separated value propositions into an eight-step process. Here is a condensed description from Mind Tools.

Finding Your Platform

Multi-media creatives: Tumblr and Giphy. Tumblr’s community has surged since Yahoo acquired the microblogging platform for $1.1 billion in 2013.

Examples: Tyrant Quotes and Will it Beard

Photos: Instagram. Instagram pits the ‘u’ in visual. The rapidly growing platform is an easy way to learn and grow.

ExamplesNational Geographic, J.CrewTaco Bell, and Deloitte Digital

Video: YouTube and Vimeo. have overcome incredible challenges and built brands in the maturing digital media landscape.

Examples: like Bethany Mota and Marie Forleo

Writing: Tumblr and MediumMedium lets writers publish articles on an ad hoc basis. It is less responsibility than blogging and equally gratifying as writing a news website article.

ExamplesShort stories

After you determine your brand, value proposition and platform, you are off to the races!

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Lena Dunham’s is using email to build her brand.

Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO’s Girls, is launching a email newsletter this fall called Lenny and using MailChimp to do it.

Dunham explained further to her 1.9 million Instagram followers that Lenny will be “a weekly feminist e-newsletter that will bring you content on politics, friendship, style, beauty, sex and more.”

At 29, the New York native already has a best-selling book and critically acclaimed show. In short, she is a millennial powerhouse brand.

What is MailChimp?

MailChimp is a user-friendly email service with a great user interface and analytics dashboard. It is an effective tool for marketers, small-businesses, agencies, and large consulting firms to share a message with fans.

Lena Dunham email - Lenny - Mailchimp

The service takes careful steps to make sure those sending email do not abuse the trust of those they are contacting. It also makes sure inactive subscribers are “cleaned” from your list. These are email subscribers  that consistently do not open email. They are effectively put in a digital penalty box and no longer receive emails.

Taken together, MailChimp is an easy way for brands to get started on email and grow without being an expert on email marketing. This is probably why Lena chose the service for Lenny.

How this builds Lena Dunham’s brand 

Lena Dunham’s Fall 2015 email play is the latest success story on a mode of communication which most marketers outside of politics or ecommerce had ignored. As the enthusiasm for social networks cools, email is emerging is the new currency of digital influence.

For example, a Bit of News, founded by Cornell student Xiao Xu, has boasted surprising open rates of over 40 percent. By contrast, according to MailChimp, email open rates are often around 20 percent.

[Deeper dive: Xiao Xu on why email matters again in April 2014]

Similarly, The Skimm has over 500,000 subscribers and closed a $6.3 million Series A round last December.

Showing up in a niche does not guarantee success. Lenny’s growth will hinge on a solid plan coming in and impeccable execution in the first months as early adopters tune in.

[Editors note: Contently’s excellent blog deserves special thanks for catching this story early and writing about it in a way that only they can. Read their original take on Dunham’s email-based brand expansion.]

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“Digital is growing”. “Wow, working social media must be cool”. These affirmations are welcome, true, and common however effective digital strategists are built from more than the cloth of enthusiasm. Here are three skills you need to succeed as a digital strategist:

1) An Inquisitive Mind: Albert Einstein said at least once, “I have no talents. I am only passionately curious.” The best digital practitioners not only ask interesting questions but also seek responses.

2) A Golden Tongue: Coffee is for rhetorical closers. You must be able to translate complex, abstract, or frankly, unlikable ideas in a way that makes sense to your audience.

3) An Analytical Eye: Simply know how to connect the data points. You do not need to know to run a MANOVA, although it certainly helps one understand how complex data point.

Recommended reading: Deloitte’s Coping Mechanisms for Digital Disruption

Best,

Mikhail