Whether it’s a play, a musical, a concert, it’s a fact: sooner or later the seal will be completely off, and smartphones will become integrated with the experience. And it will be glorious because it will cause unreasonable theater snobs to seize in agony.
That’s an exaggeration, and I don’t actually want anybody to experience pain.
I also get it.
I don’t want to be bothered by somebody’s flash. I don’t want somebody to be holding their phone up in front of me for the full two-hour duration of a performance. Then again, the worst behavioral offense I’ve ever encountered at a show had nothing to do with technology. It was two women sitting behind Kristi and me who would not stop talking during what was a fantastic Kenny Loggins show.
People asked them to stop, and they responded, “We paid for the tickets. We can do as we please.”
Nobody is suggesting that the performing arts become a digital free-for-all. However, it is completely reasonable to accept that not everybody enjoys the arts in the same way. One person’s “the theater is meant to be experienced by the whole of the person” is another’s “I want to document this amazing experience forever.”
One response is not superior to the other, and to suggest so is supreme snobbery.
It will soon be antiquated.
The New York Times writes about it in its Oct. 6 edition, “Filming the Show: Pardon the Intrusion? Or Punish It?” And I’m not interested in arguing with anybody on this topic because I don’t intend to upset anybody’s theater experience with my phone. But, also, I’m ultimately on the right side of performing arts history on this one.
Alas, I am going to root on and support anybody who challenges these norms.
And I’m going to declare “I told you so” when theater companies start creating “digital-friendly” shows. Eventually, “digital-friendly” shows will be the norm, and the outlier performances and concerts will be “digital-free.”
The Times’ article says it’s already happening.
But others are trying to embrace the digitally tethered: Some orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, have experimented with letting people keep their phones on during some concerts and offer an app to guide people through the music. The Boston Symphony Orchestra does this, too, at select “Casual Fridays” concerts, in certain designated seats.
And then there are the compromises: When Bruce Springsteen was on Broadway in 2017 and last year, the production put an insert in the Playbill, urging fans accustomed to rock concerts not to use their phones during the show, but promising that Mr. Springsteen would stay onstage during the curtain call long enough for people to take pictures. The Metropolitan Opera offers similar advice on its website: “Tip: Snap a pic of the cast during curtain call!”
To me, this is a wonderful compromise. Let folks go to town before the show and toward the end of it. But did you read what the Philadelphia Orchestra is doing with the app to guide people through the music?
That’s marketing 101, people.
There will probably always be enough theater nerds to fill Broadway shoes in New York. But I’ll tell you: when RENT came to Oklahoma City, the place was less than half full. And tickets were cheap.
Promoting the arts isn’t merely about endlessly advocating for more public school dollars. It’s about introducing the masses to talent and beauty, skill and precision, through the devices we carry in our pockets.
And that happens when you allow the true believers or at least the admirers to share their experiences digitally. The smart thing to do would be to create digital content around the art and to designate certain portions of the performance as being phone-friendly.
It will happen whether you like it or not. Might as well regulate it.
I’m way behind on my blog playlists, and I’m not sure if that’s because of my schedule or because of a lack of good music I’m hearing. Maybe I’m out rhythm with it all; I didn’t think it would be a big deal to knock out one of these per month.
Goodness knows I ‘Shazam’ everything.
As I reviewed each of my songs for the month and started down that YouTube rabbit hole, I realized the theme of this month’s playlist was about what a golden age of pop we’re in. There’s more music than ever, and it appears there’s more opportunity for everybody thanks to social media. Take Blanco Brown and his hit, “The Git Up.” I should note that I’m not making the argument that this song is brilliant music.
It is, however, out-of-this-world brilliant marketing.
Brown had already made a name for himself as a producer, but he astutely leveraged the growing popularity of social app TikTok to make a hit for himself. “The Git Up” is one part hip-hop, two or three parts country and all parts catchy af. Thanks to The Git-Up Challenge, it’s one of the songs of the summer for 2019, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 a couple weeks ago.
The point behind ‘The Git Up’ is to put a smile on people’s faces, Brown said, and that’s how the TikTok challenge was born — to spread that vibe. Its success is where worthy music meets a social, cultural moment, and as a marketer, I’m extraordinarily envious. One of the things we’re taught in digital marketing is to be a first-mover on emerging platforms just in case it takes off, and it’s clear that TikTok is legit.
Here’s a video highlight of some of these challenges in action:
The other trend I’m noticing is one part music and one part persona. It’s widely thought that pop singer Billie Eilish is going to dominate the 2020 Grammys. I recall hearing her “Bury A Friend” on the BBC early this year and thought it was extraordinary. I couldn’t figure out if it was just weird or brilliant.
I’m not sure I know the answer, but she has really taken off with her No. 1 hit, “Bad Guy.”
With the hits out of the way, here are some songs you might *not* know that have caught my ear over the past six weeks!
Aldous Harding, “The Barrel”
This has kind of a Dido vibe. Harding is a New Zealand singer-songwriter, and this tune is from 2019.
Local Natives, “When Am I Gonna Lose You?”
This L.A. band got Kate Mara to star in their video for this tune. Great harmony, even better video. TBH, I kept expecting her to get pushed underneath a train.
Saint Motel, “Move” (2016)
They had me at news. The video is on a news set. It made me get up and “move.”
Mitski, “Nobody” (2018)
Born in Japan but living in New York, Mitski reminds me a little of Kate Bush with maybe a hint of Laura Nyro? The more I hear this, the more I think it’s a masterpiece in emotional dissonance. The lyrics are so sad but the music is so opposite.
Houses, “Fast Talk”
Powered by Chicagoan Dexter Tortoriello, “Fast Talk” is hypnotic in its sound and thoughtful in its lyrics:
So maybe heaven is a ghetto with no bad blocks Shangri-La dealers at the bus stops, and Maybe God is just a Cop that we can fast talk
I particularly love the lyric, “Maybe karma’s just another word for bad luck.”
And then sometimes you stumble upon a masterpiece. Bleachers is a band, a group, really the work of a guy named Jack Antonoff. He’s apparently in the band, “Fun,” also. I don’t know. I get all this from Wikipedia; who’s with me?
The song is called, “I Wanna Get Better,” and it’s from 2014. It’s catchy. But like “Fast Talk,” above, the lyrics are uber-powerful:
Hey, I hear the voice of a preacher from the back room Calling my name and I follow just to find you I trace the faith to a broken down television and put on the weather And I’ve trained myself to give up on the past ’cause I frozen time between hearses and caskets Lost control when I panicked at the acid test
And then this from the chorus:
I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face I wanna get better, better, better, better, I wanna get better I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change I wanna get better, better, better, better, I wanna get better
And the video is fantastic.
Anyhoo, I rambled on about ‘The Git Up’ and TikTok because the digital marketing part of it gets me all giddy — but I also gave you a handful of great songs you might not have heard of. If any of them strikes your ear or eyes, brain or heart, let me know in the comments!
Two summers ago when I had a chance to buy a new laptop, I used Consumer Reports to figure out which one to buy. I studied and studied and studied, and I eventually went with a Lenovo PC, which got phenomenal reviews.
MacBooks get tremendous reviews as well, but at 1.6 times the cost of a PC, I couldn’t quite make the leap mentally.
And then came a Facebook message from a friend looking to get rid of his 2014 MacBook Pro 110 for $250. That’s a price point I couldn’t pass up.
“What’s the catch?” I asked.
None, he said. He only had the laptop and a makeshift cord for now; he’d get me the original box and power cord soon. That worked for me, and I paid up. He had barely used it, he said.
And by all accounts, this is practically a brand new machine. While he had wiped it, there was still a couple references to his accounts, iCloud and email and such. After I eliminated those things, I installed the most recent OS, which is called Mojave.
Turns out that even *that* is an app.
Everything is an app on the Mac, just like it is on my iPhone or iPad, and that’s something I love as an avid Apple man. It took a long while to install Mojave, but I went to bed and it was done by morning.
The first feature I noticed was the ability to turn my background dark, if I wanted. And I did. But now I was also able to download all sorts of apps, something I wasn’t able to do before the OS upgrade.
I downloaded Magnet, which is a paid app that allows you to pin opened apps to various parts of your desktop. So, I pinned my notes, my email and News, Apple News, a miso-mash of headlines from various news sources across the country.
My next download was Google Chrome for Mac because Safari distorts things a bit, and I wanted to see webpages the way I was accustomed. I also downloaded Kindle and Adobe Lightroom and Garage Band and iMovie, basics for the Mac newbie.
And I downloaded Ulysses, where I’m writing this blog post right now. I’m not sure why I would want to pay $4.99 per month for an app where I write, but here I am.
Something I’ve noticed about typing on a Mac is that the keyboard fits my hands. Reminds me of a line from Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind.”
Or something that somebody said
Because they thought we fit together walking
At a more practical level, I can type a billion miles an hour on this sucker and not have to look at the keyboard, which already puts the Mac way, way, way ahead of my Lenovo. I also strongly prefer the 13.3-inch version of the Mac to the 15.4.
If I get to where I love using this Mac, as I expect I might, my next purchase might be a brand new one. But first things first, I’m loving getting to know this Mac — and I would love your feedback and insight as to what apps I should be adding to it.
By day I’m the director of digital content for a pair of local TV news stations. I’ve been in the digital game a long time, helping businesses grow their audience and leverage platform algorithms to their benefit.
I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, but I can help with what’s worked for me over the years. I’m going to start using this blog to help you, too, especially those of you who are a little older, like me, and feel left behind by technology and digital content, unlike me.
It’s rather easy to do this in the macro: provide the reader with value, use the platforms the way they want you to, spend some money, and repeat often.
Let’s talk about Facebook for a second.
I’m working with a bunch of folks to start brand pages. I’ve started a brand page, too, to help promote music I post to YouTube. If you have any focused personal or business objective, you need to get off the ‘friend page’ and onto ‘pages,’ what we might call a business or brand page.
You’ll also want to associate a credit card with that new page via business.facebook.com.
At some point, I’ll blog about how to do that. But let’s say you’ve got your brand page and are posting content to it. Here is the simplest strategy to grow your Facebook brand page.
It goes like this:
Post compelling, interesting content
Put money behind it against a targeted audience
Convert those who react to your post into fans
Something about my Facebook page that I’d like you to ignore is how poor my art is. I’m going to spend a few dollars on fiverr.com to get my cover photo a whole lot sharper. The goal for my page is to bring attention to music videos I record, covers and originals. The ultimate conversion is for viewers to become fans or to visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel. To be fully vulnerable and transparent: I haven’t spent nearly the time and effort on my own pages as I should have.
This is me documenting that process.
This is what I do.
Post compelling content For me, that means that I’ve recorded a music video, cover or original, that I think was particularly well executed. I post the video to my channel on YouTube and am sure to leverage all the fields to my benefit. The first 24 hours is crucial in the life of a YouTube video, so you don’t want to post it today and detail it tomorrow. Do it all from the beginning.
Also, don’t add one of those thumbnails that has writing all over it. Not at first. You might later; it’s just that you want to optimize the video for a Facebook ad first. Facebook has always said that it doesn’t give much audience to posts that have writing all over the graphic associated with it, but they have really throttled them recently. It’s best if your thumbnail has no writing on it at all, for Facebook.
For YouTube, it appears to be a different answer.
So, we’re posting to YouTube to share to Facebook to grow audience on a Facebook brand page and to drive people to my YouTube channel, and we want to adhere to Facebook’s post preferences just long enough to get an ad on the ground. Afterward, you can go back and add the thumbnail that has words all over it to YouTube.
Put money behind it Once you get your post live, immediately put money behind it — and do it with your phone. Look for the blue button under the post that reads, “Boost Post.”
Once you click that, you’ll see:
Several things I’d like to note here.
I strongly prefer to make ‘Get More Engagement’ my primary goal. You can make ‘Get More Website Visitors’ your goal, but I’ve found that you end up with more website visitors if you focus on engagement. Plus, your post does better overall, and you end up with more new fans.
In my experience, focusing on content that produces engagement will take you to your business goal faster indirectly than even directly.
In the vast majority of situations, you’ll want to use an audience that you ‘choose through targeting.’ Click ‘Edit’ next to that.
After you’ve created one audience, you can save it and re-use it. Or you can create a new one each time. Or you can start to re-market your posts to people who like your page or who have interacted with your posts. For my purposes, since I’m covering mostly songs that were big hits in English-speaking countries, I tend to target either the United States by itself or the U.S. plus Canada, England and Australia.
But that’s not all, I like to target people based on interests. For example, I just boosted a post that linked to a cover song I did for “Lady” by Kenny Rogers. At first, I targeted fans of Kenny Rogers who also like piano, but I found that I got more traction when I just targeted people who liked piano. Typically, adding the artist helps because it tightens the audience. When you create a Facebook ad, it helps to manage it throughout its life-cycle. If the ad is not performing to your satisfaction, make changes!
Once you select an audience, Facebook will critique it and tell you how broad it is:
This audience with all the ages and no interests, demographics or behaviors included is much too broad. Not only do I limit the number of countries that can see my video (which is not shown precisely in the image above), I limit the age grouping. “Lady” was a huge hit in 1981. I figure folks who love the song are pretty close to my age and older. In fact, when I cover 1980s songs, I typically target an audience that is 35 and older.
You’ll see in a moment why I really should be targeting 50 and older!
But I make a couple tweaks, and “voila,” I have an audience that Facebook says is good.
Once you’re done, it takes an hour or so for Facebook to approve your ad. At that point, I’d recommend you start paying attention to the performance of your ad. Do two things, specifically:
Interact with people who interaction with you. Like their compliments, and thank them. Do not feed the trolls. Be social.
Look through everybody who has liked your post and invite them to like your page. This part is a must.
Here’s where you’re not going to be impressed, I’m afraid. I only have 153 fans so far.
The truth is: I’ve only posted to the page 15 times this entire year through seven months. If you have a brand page, that’s unacceptable. If I really want to make this page take off, I need to be posting at least once per day — and it needs to be a strong post. Every day.
However, for just a few dollars, I’ve built an audience of 153 people who aren’t my real-life Facebook friends. If I were to do exactly what I’ve done at scale, I’d have 1,000 fans in no time flat — and then 10,000. Everything I’ll show you how to do on digital is about taking micro-steps and doing them at scale.
It’s a challenge when you’ve got a regular job and other life obligations. Preach.
You can learn a lot about the audience that likes you as part of this process, too. For example, check out the results from my $20 ad campaign on the song “Lady.”
From a Facebook perspective, I reached 2,794 people and got 437 engagements on the post. I was able to convert that into 18 new fans, which for $20 comes to about $1 per new fan and a 4.1 conversion rate. Is that good? I think it depends who you are, what business you’re in and what you’ve done thus far — a baseline, if you will. I feel like I could have done a better job with this ad, particularly if I were to have honed in on an older audience.
Check out the bottom of the graphic above.
Most all my audience was 65 and above. Wow. I must be the new Liberace. Long-term, however, it’s not my goal to grow an audience of AARP members, a club I’ll also be in very soon. On the other hand, the 50-80 year-old demographic is absolutely the fastest-growing group on Facebook — and I bet that if I were to re-do the ad and focus on that audience, my conversion rate would be significantly better.
If that were a goal of mine, I’d do just that. For now, I’m content to experiment with another ad on another song. For you, however, whether you’re a Realtor or a comedian or a so-called social media expert, the formula for growing a Facebook brand page, at its easiest, is exactly this.
What about my YouTube channel? How did this ad impact that? It’s hard to say. It did bring the video 342 views, and most of them came in the first couple of days of the video’s existence — a big deal in the world of YouTube. Early performance on YouTube predicts long-term performance, not merely against the quality of the video but also within YouTube’s algorithm.
Plus, with each new YouTube subscriber, it’s hard to know for sure why they decided to subscribe. About the only way I know to find out is to ask them or hope they’ve already “liked” one of your videos, which would show up on their page, I’ll address that later in a blog post. I’m currently at 865 fans and would love to be at 1,000 by the end of the year.
But every time I do a new Facebook ad, I’ll show you the results. If you’d like to come along on that journey, follow this blog. We’ll grow together!
Thought I’d devote a quick post to this in hopes of helping somebody not waste 25 minutes trying to find it.
I love WordPress, but I also think the CMS is largely unintuitive, especially without search. On several occasions over the past few months, I’ve wanted to update an outdated bio at the bottom of each blog post.
Not only was the information out of date, but it was devoid of HTML, so it looked like a jumbled heap of words.
So, I hopped into the WordPress admin tool and clicked here. And clicked there. And then I did a quick Google search, and then I started to grow frustrated because there is no search in the WordPress admin that I can find — and it should all just be easier than this.
And then I eventually figured it out.
I’m going to show you so that, maybe, you don’t have to waste your time.
Go to WP Admin
Click on ‘Users’ in the left-hand column.
Then click on ‘Your Profile.’
What you’ll see looks like this:
Type in all the updates you’d like, and note that you can add HTML links to things like social media sites. I tried adding paragraphs and line breaks, and that was no-go. Just add the simple <a href HTML code around any link you have, and it should work.
Then you click the ‘Update Profile’ button just below that, and – boom – all done!
Combing through my October reports on YouTube, and one thing is clear: I did something right last month.
I’m a small-channel creator on YouTube. I have 755 subscribers as of this morning, and while we’re all chasing the elusive 1,000 mark for monetization (which is only part of that equation), we’re all chasing growth.
I’ve tried YouTube’s ad capabilities. It’s good for garnering mass amounts of views on the cheap, views from real people — but views without serious targeting and views with virtually no engagements.
We forget sometimes that YouTube is both a search engine and a social network.
One of the tactics Gary Vaynerchuk has always preached relative to Instagram is the ‘grind’ required to build audience by being a good platform participant — meaning that to grow an audience that provides your channel with real, quality engagement, you have to take the first step. You have to get into the comments.
You can’t just create for your platform.
You have to use it like a madman.
For the month of October, I got 4,165 views on youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic — up from 1,919, 1,418 and 2,053 the previous three months. On YouTube, however, “watch time” is the more important metric. My watch time for October was 4,207 minutes, up from 3,108, 1,703 and 3,288 the previous three months, respectively.
There are a couple of ways to increase watch time, the most obvious of which is to drive the number of views you get. That could mean creating more videos, more often. Another tactic is to create longer videos. But you can’t just create lengthier videos for the mere sake of doing so: folks won’t watch unless they’re getting value from your content.
Value can be information or entertainment, either or both.
What was a bit odd in my measurements for October was that my average duration-length-per-person was actually down — 1:00 versus 1:37, 1:12 and 1:36 respectively for the three months previous. That’s not as important as watch time overall is because YouTube’s mission is to cause folks to stay on the platform for more time each day.
Makes sense, right?
So, what did I do to drive that? First, I lucked out with a tutorial video. I created a “How to play ‘Rosanna’ by Toto” video that did really well for me. Despite the fact that five people smashed the “dislike” button, more than 1,550 people have watched the video at this point, and it has garnered a lot of minutes of watch time and, I suspect, provided some value to at least some viewers.
It helps to create content often and to create longer-form content. Check, check, check.
But it was what I started doing mid-month that really moved the needle both in terms of views, watch time and subscribes. Oh, let’s talk subscribes for a moment: I gained 28 new subscribers in October, my biggest gain probably ever. The previous three months, it had been -2, +3 and -2.
That felt really stagnant.
What I did was real simple, too. I became a YouTube junkie. I started looking for other musicians and songwriters, identifying compositions and performances I really liked — and then I did something utterly crazy.
I complimented them. Kindness.
So crazy it might work.
If I really liked their content, I subscribed. I didn’t ask for a subscription back, but I did try to provide value in my comment. That might mean that I made them feel good or that I gave them a tip. On one person’s channel, I ended up being their first subscriber. I subscribed, let them know I had done so and then offered some encouragement and a couple YouTube tips.
YouTube is a search engine. Your creations are index-able, and so are your comments.
The subscribes started pouring in.
But you know what else started to happen? I started gaining new YouTube friends. Like every other social media platform on the planet, that’s ultimately what their creators seek — the development of a community of users.
If you’re stuck on YouTube with no growth or slow growth, I’m here to tell you — your challenge might not be all about your content. It might be about how you use the platform. Spending 30 minutes a day participating as a viewer and commenter on other videos will do you a world of wonder on YouTube.
It is guaranteed to work. It’s natural. It’s totally aboveboard — and dare I say, it’s the way we’re supposed to do it all along.
Last but not least, here are my Top 10 videos for the month of October, in order of “watch time:”
My Bose Soundsport bluetooth headphones are pissing me off. The button somehow got stuck, and I can’t get it back to normal. Wearing these has become a part of the running ritual; they’re the first headphones that will stay in my ear no matter how greasy I get.
It depends on the day as to what I listen to, too. I have a running playlist that I’ll detail sometime, a mix of songs from today and way back in the 1980s, back when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
Sometimes, especially on calm Sunday mornings, I’ll listen to NPR’s Morning Edition, or in this case, Weekend Edition. If I’m running by 9 a.m. or so, I’ll tune it to KQED in San Francisco and listen to the West Coast feed. This is a fantastic way to get caught up on news and to consume a high caliber of news, to boot.
Because I’m a YouTube Premium member, I can listen to videos while using my running app in the foreground.
Or I listen to podcasts. And that’s what I thought I’d write about today – the 11 podcasts that are currently in my rotation. For what it’s worth, I am subscribed to the West Wing Weekly podcast, but Kristi and I are only in the middle of Season Three, and I had never watched the series serially like this. For example, I’ve seen Season 3, Episode 9 a billion times. It’s the ‘Bartlet For America’ episode where Leo McGarry eloquently describes the appeal of Scotch while at the same time eloquently describing the hell of addiction. To me, this is the best scene in the history of the show.
Anyway, I digress. I don’t listen to West Wing Weekly yet because it’s something I’d like to share with Kristi once we both finish the series, serially.
But here’s what I do listen to:
The Gary Vee Audio Experience. Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty hit-or-miss for me these days as I think his schtick has become routine. His insight into usable tactics for social media is still insightful, and he remains one of the best motivators for workaholics on the planet, encouraging us to keep hustling. When he hits, he slugs it out of the park. After six years of listening to the man, however, I know when to tune in and when to tune out. If you’re in marketing or are interested in digital anything, he’s a must-listen.
Marketing School. Neil Patel and Eric Siu are two of the preeminent experts on digital marketing with an emphasis on SEO. Their podcasts are always super short, as in less than ten minutes each, but there’s always value. To me, SEO is the most important discipline in content for brands, news organizations and even bloggers. Patel’s SEO Analyzer tool is a must-use for anybody wanting to compare their website to the competition. This podcast is a no-brainer for marketing geeks.
Hit Parade. This is a podcast from Slate about pop music, the pop music charts and trivia associated with it. The last episode I listened to was about the BeeGees, and it was like listening to a documentary history of the vocal group. The production was brilliant, and the nuggets of information were meaty enough for the music nerd while being palatable to the neophyte.
Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. I’ve been a fan of Brian’s since his TV Newser days, and I followed him and David Carr after the New York Times movie came out. I had also read Carr’s “Night Of The Gun.” As both a fan of Brian’s and a newsie, I find Reliable Sources to be a must-listen to keep up with media trends and to get a pretty fair analysis of how we’re doing as an industry. For example, this week he had on Frank Sesno, who was pretty critical of the coverage from mainstream media types during the Brett Kavanaugh proceedings.
The Tim Ferriss Show. I believe Ferriss came to fame via the ‘4-hour’ books: “4-Hour Work Week,” “4-Hour Body,” etc. Ferriss is a prolific accomplisher of things (what does that mean? it just feels like it’s the right way to describe him), and he has fascinating life hacks that are super practical. For example, Ferriss turned me on to a mushroom coffee that has become a go-to for me on days where I didn’t get the best sleep the night before. His interview with Terry Crews, in my opinion, is the best podcast interview I’ve ever listened to both because of him and Crews.
The Life Coach School. Brooke Castillo is the host. I know she’s a Texan, and I suspect she probably knows Brene Brown. In fact, I might have stumbled onto Brooke because of Brene, especially after I read “Daring Greatly,” which I think is a must-read for anybody in management. The gist of that book is how to use vulnerability as an asset both as a giver and a taker, a speaker and a listener. Brooke’s podcast is hit-or-miss for me, but when she’s speaking about a topic that’s pertinent to my life, I find her to be on point. When I decide to listen to her, I’m never disappointed, and the content is what you’d expect from a life coach — so it’s not for everybody although it wouldn’t kill you to listen to it.
WTF with Marc Maron. His was the first podcast I ever downloaded. Maron is a stand-up comic who interviews people a couple times a week for his podcast, which happens to be one of the biggest on the planet. I love his monologues more than his interviews primarily because I like him more than a lot of his guests. For interviews, you can’t beat Howard Stern. Best on the planet. But Maron ain’t shabby. Even still, Maron’s podcasts are worth it even only to listen to the monologues at the beginning of each episode.
YouTube Creators Hub. A guy named Dusty Porter teaches creators how to use YouTube to grow businesses or at least grow audiences. He interviews successful creators and even has a Patreon where you can get access to a group of people who supposedly can help you grow your channel. It hasn’t helped me at all, not one iota. Once you listen to about 10-15 of his episodes, you glean about as much as will be useful to you. The themes are all the same: develop niche content, post consistently, “it’s a lot of work,” and more. But, IMHO, this is still the best YouTube creators podcast out there. After listening to 50-60 episodes, for me, at this point, it’s hit or miss. I’d love more of a deep dive into tactics that successful channels leverage.
Mitchell Talks. My friend and colleague Scott Mitchell visits with journalists (my friends and colleagues Aaron Brilbeck and Grant Hermes) and newsmakers about issues of the day here in Oklahoma. It’s a smart look at politics in the Sooner State with no political bent. Scott is an equal-opportunity political analyst and is particularly effective at pointing out the most ridiculous parts of the political machine. I should point out that I might contribute some music to Scott’s podcasts. Woot!
West Of Everest. This one is from another colleague, Lee Benson. He and his brother, Grant, talk Oklahoma Sooners football – and they take a real deep dive into each game. This is an hour’s worth of content that will greatly appeal to the diehard Sooners fan. I haven’t listened to this one yet during the offseason. I think that will be the trick to appealing, long-term, year-round to folks.
And last but not least, Why Today Doesn’t Suck. This is the daily segment on The Ticket 1310 in Dallas where Bob & Dan Radio hand it off to The Hardline. This is what they call in the radio business, “crosstalk.” And as they do this, they talk birthdays and death days and born on this day, now dead. Listeners (P1s, especially) write in with their birthday wishes and ask for various drops to be played, and it’s heavy on the language and rituals of those who have listened to The Ticket for years. During my tenure in Dallas, I was a P1 practically from Day 1, and I’m thankful beyond thankful that this is available to me via the magical power of my phone.
I know there are hundreds of other podcasts I’ll never have time to listen to that are worth an audit. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Speak to me, people, and let me know what you listen to while you run!
Ryan Welton is a digital communicator, marketer and journalist who loves to run and write songs. He thinks that’ll be the focus of this blog from here forward. He can be found at YouTube.com/ryanweltonmusic and on Twitter @ryanwelton.
Anybody who knows me knows that I love the digital game. I love the process of creating content, promoting it and growing something from nothing to a lot. In this post, I want to talk about my current efforts and the notion of going wide versus deep.
First, I’ve been posting pretty much everything I do to ryanwelton.com. I have been posting sports columns and recipes, travel photos and personal essays. This is what’s known as going wide, touching many bases in hopes of growing as broad of an audience as possible. This strategy looks for quantity of audience and not necessarily quality. Where that can be valuable is when your business is judged by quantity of people, such as in TV. Sure, there are some demographics that are preferred to others, but at the end of the day, Station A wants to have more people watching than Station B.
The problem with this strategy is that you get a whole bunch of people one day and a whole bunch of people the next, and it’s possible that the first audience and the second are completely different. The people who sampled your product on the first day didn’t come back the second. In my case, the people who read by Oklahoma Sooners blog posts probably didn’t come back when I posted my potato soup recipe — and vice-versa.
At the point where you want to turn visitors into repeat content customers, you have to go deep.
In the news world, that might mean delving deep into a topic such as education, health or politics. Many local TV news stations have a “consumer beat” where the reporter works to right wrongs in the community. That type of deeper coverage can prompt a consumer to come back night after night. In the blog world, this strategy is all about the niche — and niche content and niche marketing are super powerful these days because people have proven to be willing to come back time after time when a topic interests them.
I’m also a YouTuber (http://www.youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic), and creators who teach YouTube channel growth are pretty adamant about only going deep. I heard one self-proclaimed expert say that there are no “variety shows” on YouTube.
Go deep or go home.
Going deep means longer posts. Higher-quality information. Varied types of content, e.g., written word, video and audio.
However, you have to be satisfied with having a smaller audience, reminding yourself that what you really have is the “right audience.” If you’re doing anything like Ad Sense or Amazon Associates affiliate marketing, a niche audience has a higher likelihood of moving the needle than a broad audience.
Why? Because you’re dependent upon each and every blog to convert.
Going deep allows you to suck the user into a rabbit hole of sorts, which translates into an appreciation from the reader and a higher chance of conversion.
Believe it or not, many content trends in 2018 are headed back to 2008. Take email for example: Gathering emails from your readers is probably the most important thing you can do from a marketing perspective because, if they opt-in to receiving a newsletter, you can use that to induce all sorts of sales opportunities.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never solicited email addresses because that’s not ever been my style. It makes me uneasy to do that. However, I should if I ever want to turn a blog into something that makes money.
And let’s talk about that for a second because the reality is you have to be selling something that is super-high-dollar or creating your own product to expect to make much of anything. I’m a musician; perhaps I could move some Korg keyboards through my site.
If I had just kept my original ryanwelton.com around from the early 2000s, who knows where I could have taken it. I used to write about American Idol and Big Brother and other reality shows, and I was getting terrific traffic.
Since restarting my site, the growth has been slow although it really jumped right about the time Mom died and I penned the tribute to her. That gave me some momentum, and you need that. Here’s a look at my stats for this year so far per month:
However, what that chart doesn’t show you is that I only get decent engagement when I write about certain topics such as food, travel and health. My posts about the Oklahoma Sooners or Cleveland Browns only get consumed; nobody follows, comments or reacts.
This is key.
People are much more willing to follow a blog if it’s about a single topic of interest to them. Although food, travel and health are different topics, they do fall generally under lifestyle — and when the information comes from a certain demo, such as a man approaching 50, it has the potential to attract a certain audience.
So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, how do you choose a topic? You do keyword research, and my current favorite tool for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. What you want to do is import some keywords for topics you’re interested in and see what the monthly average search volume is like.
Ideally, you want to blog about a topic that somebody searches for, and you don’t want it to be so competitive that you’d never be able to break through the noise. There is a sweet spot to be had, and a tool like Keywords Everywhere can help you feel it out. It’s a process that I’ve gone through the past couple of nights in fact in hopes of moving away from a ryanwelton.com blog that is about everything.
Because when your blog is truly about everything, then it’s about nothing.
Focus is needed.
I narrowed my search somewhat based on search volume and competition stats. Keywords Everywhere measures a keyword phrase on a scale of 0 to 1 based on how aggressively advertisers pursue it. You’ll notice here that for whatever reason, the term “Cleveland Browns” gets ridiculous search volume but is also wide-open competitively. Based on what I see here, a person could break through on that term.
However, more goes into it than this. Do I really want to start and cultivate an entire blog about the Cleveland Browns? I mean, really, the reason all of us Okies are such fans of the team now is because of the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.
I’m truly all-in at this point, but it’s possible I get bored at some point down the road. Alas, the thing that makes us love Mayfield so much is that he was a great Sooner — and that’s why I’m reviving thenormanfiles.com, which was a hyper-local blog of sorts that I tried to get going back in 2013, soon after I left KOCO.
Take a look at these keyword stats below:
That indicates to me that there is enough global search volume between the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma basketball, football and even the Oklahoma City Dodgers to make thenormanfiles.com a worthwhile-go as a sports-centric blog on topics that would be of interest to people in Oklahoma.
But what else?
I already have beamediacompany,com, where I write about digital communications, social media and trends in the industry as it relates to 21st Century public relations and corporate communications. A post like this one here would ideally go there.
I’ve also revived my 80s music blog, but with a new URL: http://www.1980s.blog. Before I solidified the dot-blog top-level domain, I did some Google SEO research to see how Mother Google felt about non-dot-coms as TLDs — and what I found is that they don’t really care.
It’s the content, stupid.
And my thought was that in a mobile world, it’s about URL length, so 1980s.blog as a domain name really appealed to me.
I also have outandaboutokc.com as a blog that Kristi and I have talked about working on together with a focus on what businesses have available for families, for example: play areas and kids menus, vegetarian options and parking situations.
Just tonight I created two more: bunnygap.com and crazyforcaps.com. The former is a reference to the phrase, “The Rabbit Hole,” except that on this blog, I’d take the reader simply down a li’l bunny gap, not the full-on rabbit hole. I’ll write about YouTube and audio, movies and TV. It’s basically a pop culture site.
The latter is a site that would capture my obsession with baseball caps, and not just caps from baseball teams but all kinds of caps and, really, hats. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis here:
Notice that both the term “baseball cap” and cap(s) are scored as ‘1’s. There is decent search volume for both, but advertisers attack it hard, which means that a person would have to really stand out — and my thought is that I could do that by taking a “Uni-Watch” approach to headwear, especially as it pertains to sports teams.
Boy, that sounds like a lot of work, right?
Well, one does have to create opportunities for efficiencies, and I study the subject pretty religiously. Plus, I’ve always been one to let the data drive the bus, meaning that if one of the sites really took off, there I’d focus.
All of this serves as a scratch to the itch that is for me ‘mass communication’ through digital. Well before social media came along, I preferred the blog. As I develop each of these new ones and re-tinker with the old ones, I’m going to have to think long and hard about social amplification.
Do I need separate Facebook and Twitter sites for each of these?
Or do I use the blogs to build more of an audience for my own Facebook and Twitter pages?
This doesn’t even consider Linked In, where a post like this must definitely live!
The tactical strategy end of this should never trump the formula that will never steer you wrong, and that’s to serve an audience. If you’re going to write about 80s music, make sure it goes deep and appeals to the geekiest of the geeky 80s children. And if you’re going to write about digital strategy or ball caps, delve into as much detail as you can, either taking the consumer down the proverbial rabbit hole or giving them something they can take away and use for real.
You might get a reaction, a comment or a new follower.
And that’s when going deep can help you build that big audience to which you can communicate wide. If any of these blogs in particular will be of interest to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Appreciate you reading!
Believe me when I tell you that you can improve your Glassdoor rating by nearly a full point in one year. Less even.
I’ve done it. (2.6 to 3.3)
And I’ve done it the right way.
No tricks. No smoke, no mirrors.
Also believe me when I tell you that it’s damned important. I was listening to a Gary Vaynerchuk podcast this week in which he bemoaned his agency’s own Glassdoor rating, and he also downplayed its worth, which surprised me a little.
Because he proclaims himself the head of HR for VaynerMedia.
And because I respect him immensely.
Glassdoor reviews are to picking employers as Yelp is to picking restaurants. They mean the world, and I hope you’ll understand by the end of this post that I don’t merely mean the reviews themselves but how the employer manages its presence on the platform.
In a world where companies compete for the best employees, where it’s truly a dog-eat-dog competition for talent, Glassdoor is often the eliminator or the tiebreaker.
Prospects look at your Glassdoor reviews. Every time.
They might latch onto something that causes them to rule your organization out — or they use the platform to pick one over the other.
When I was asked to help my employer (a previous one) to improve its 2.6 Glassdoor rating, I immediately read every company review. Then I formulated a plan based on the best practices of the platform (simple research + we had a strong advertising agency assisting) and with a spirit of empathy, off I went.
Here’s what you do:
1. You’ve got to reply to every review, no matter how awful. And you’ve got to be timely about it.
It’s not about resolving the issue with the single disgruntled employee. It’s about showing the world that you’re listening and you care.
For example, it didn’t bother me so much that VaynerMedia got some poor reviews. What stood out is that there was zero response. Shocking, actually.
I’ve listened to Gary Vee for years. He’s all about empathy, and I truly believe that he’s genuine in that regard. But on Glassdoor, his organization doesn’t show it – and it’s a big deal.
On one hand, prospects want to see how you deal with bad reviews. On the other, prospective Glassdoor reviewers will see that you’re listening — and it makes them more likely to give you a positive review and less likely to leave a scathing one.
If you’ve gone years without responding to anybody, start at the beginning and apologize for not responding. Commit publicly to doing better. You’ll be surprised how much latitude people will show you.
And then make Glassdoor an every day commitment.
2. If your reviews indicate a pattern, recognize that your employees, whether disgruntled or not, might be right.
At my previous company, the prevalent issue was a lack of female managers. At a certain point, I advised my boss (and she agreed) that the problem was real. Thankfully, I worked somewhere that I could be forthcoming and honest.
Not that change happened immediately, but there was problem recognition.
It’s a win. It’s a start.
3. Have a customer service mechanism whether it be a phone number or an email where the person who reviewed (or anybody who sees your response) can call or message you to detail their concerns or complaints further.
Oftentimes, the Glassdoor reviewer will have a very specific complaint, perhaps about alleged discrimination or harassment — and you’ve got to take that seriously and do it publicly, working privately to resolve the issue.
Sometimes, a disgruntled employee is willing to remove a negative post if the company does outreach. It can’t be a quid pro quo scenario.
It has to happen naturally.
But it does sometimes if you work in good faith.
4. Encourage your employees to post their reviews.
You absolutely cannot compel them to do so nor can you compel them to give you a positive review. That can get you kicked off the platform.
However, as part of a feedback strategy, you can let employees know that you value Glassdoor, encouraging them to leave your organization a review.
Most employees who take you up on that offer will leave you positive reviews. In my experience, that ratio is about 70-30.
Over time, with diligence, this four-step Glassdoor rating-improvement process is guaranteed to up your score — and it will lead to recruiting wins.
One of my digital goals for 2018 has been to grow my Instagram channel. With everything I’ve got going on between work, volunteering and social obligations, this hasn’t gone so well so far.
I need a gimmick. I need a routine.
And I think I came up with one. I’ll take a photo outside each and every morning that details the temperature and the expected high and weather conditions, not a full forecast just a brief summary. It’s useful. It’s visual, and it’s something I could do each and every day. At a minimum, this gives me one post per day.
I need to come up with more of these ideas, well, beyond just taking photos of food.
Why? Because Instagram has 813M users as of April 2018. It’s an incredible platform for brand building and storytelling. In the past couple of weeks, I converted my channel to a business profile, @ryanweltonmusic. The primary thing this gets me is Instagram analytics and the ability to run ads. You can add a contact button to your account, and I think you can even add a hyperlink.
For the moment, I have a pretty big caveat: My channel only has 354 followers.
I’ve got a long way to go.
You’d think with a name like @ryanweltonmusic, my channel would be all about music or would have more video snippets of me playing. Alas, no. I’ve mostly used my channel for unfocused personal nonsense.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you at least post consistently, which I don’t and haven’t. The goal is 4-5 posts per day, but I’d settle for a consistent one daily. Here are a few of my weather photo posts:
Likewise, I forgot to post in Tulsa on Friday, when we all got together for the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters (OAB). If this is going to be a new social media habit for me, I need consistency — and that means every day.
Strategically, I believe that brands and people both can be posting on Instagram way more often. Up to 4-5 times a day with the full allotment of 30 tags. At some point after I get a bunch of posts into the Instagram analytics system, I’ll do a post that compares my posts and how they rank in terms of impressions.
But for now, know that my weather-image strategy has netted me six new followers in four days.