2 guys in the trenches of digital marketing bring humor to all things content marketing, SEO, and technology. Each episode features three hot topics being discussed in the digital marketing industry, starting with a 20 second download - a belligerent stream of consciousness. We follow up each download with ten minutes of discussion and practical insights into how to be a more impactful digital marketer.
Jeff Baker is an AVP of Marketing, specializing in SEO. His market research has been featured on Moz.
Francis is a VP of content, with over ten years of experience in content marketing.
We realize podcasts aren’t necessarily supposed to have seasons. But hey, Congress isn’t supposed to ask stupid questions of powerful tech CEO’s, either.
Yet here we are with a season finale chiefly about Congress doing just that thing. Rules were made to be broken on “Above the Fold.”
For the last time in 2018, bamboozling tangents that involve San Diegans throwing scooters in lakes, important ethical questions about Google’s societal responsibilities, and a healthy dose of luddite shaming await you.
Starting with Congress’s ‘saga of ineptitude’
A lot of ignorance sloshed around the hearing room when Congress attempted to grill Google CEO, Sundar Pichai – and Jeff and Francis were quick to call it out.
But the biggest farce is what wasn’t discussed at the hearing. Such as the fact that Google’s algorithms are in a black box. Nobody fully understands them, or for that matter, the full extent to which Google uses data.
And what about the moral integrity of its algorithms? How do you encode ethics into a massive database that determines so much about what content the world sees? Do you even try, or do you let the results truly mirror some societal consensus, as Google claims it’s doing?
Congress had a huge opportunity here to probe Google’s more cloak-and-dagger qualities, and they squandered it by focusing on things like why “idiot” is equated to Donald Trump in search results.
Marketing under the influence. Episode 17 revisited a topic from a recent show: influencer marketing. The trend (think Instagram celebrities and personalities using their profiles to market products from partner brands) has gained a lot of attention lately, and not for the best reasons.
It got very weird, very quickly in the penultimate episode of the first season for "Above the Fold" during which we were joined by digital marketing sage Shane Barker — who may or may not be Paul Rudd, just based on his voice.
Is influencer marketing inherently bad? Are there ways to make the strategy work for you? What is a good amount of emoji comments?
Scratch that third thought — at least, because emojis don't equal real engagement in influencer marketing. But what does constitute true results? The guys try to answer that question and nail down how influencer marketing can be successful.
We shared a wide-ranging conversation on influencer marketing and smart marketing that had its fair share of detours into the strange and unusual, with plenty of jokes and sidebars along the way.
The deep, dark side of influencer marketing is starting to take shape. Jeff and Francis discuss a Wired article that depicts an unregulated, wild wild west scenario where legitimate businesspeople are torpedoed and extorted to be successful.
The story discusses Sahara Lotti who started a B2C cosmetics company called Lashify. Lotti was told that she would have to "pay to play" in this market, which included paying influencers upwards of $100k for endorsements.
Little did she know, "influencers" are not only paid to endorse products, but also to take down competitor products. This happened to Lotti, in an attempt to torpedo her business. An online war ensued, resulting in light being shed on the mafia-esque nature of influencer marketing on Instagram.
Data ownership! Make sure you check your contracts with your marketing vendors so that you own your analytics data and your website login details.
It's a damned good thing Google didn't roll out comments for ALL Google searches. Fortunately it's going to be limited to sports scores.
Red Dead Redemption has a hilarious feature that watches you crash your horse into everything, all in cinematic glory. Francis explains "cowboy time, and the incredible amount of time he sinks into this game.
Cyrus Shepard, previous Head of Audience Development at Moz and current founder and owner of Zyppy, joined us to talk about the latest news in digital marketing.
We opened the conversation with discussion about some automated brick-and-mortar developments in San Francisco. Jeff had his first experience in an Amazon Go store, a weird, Orwellian experience to say the least. Then he went to a robotic coffee shop where all coffee is made by a robotic arm. Cyrus makes fun of Jeff for losing the the remaining human contact left in his life.
We discuss voice search, where we are less worried about the trend for increasing amounts of voice-based searches, and more worried about complex voice answers, and featured snippets that are pulling away clicks.
Influencer marketing brings us into a weird territory of ethics, again. We discuss the issues of quantifying results, and overall transparency.
When you hear about Google's workplace, you think "ooooh nap pods and gyms and free lunches", right? Apparently not. 1/5 of all employees around the world walked out on their employer due to a host of issues, including paying off top execs for unethical behavior. Francis explains you can't create culture with beanbag chairs and lunch, you need to create a positive workspace. Has their slogan gone from "Do no evil" to "Do no evil, unless our reputation is at stake?"
27:00 - Zero click searches! Google is pulling more content into SERPs, provided by content marketers, which is resulting in less traffic being sent to the owners' of the content. In other words, Google is taking our content and populating it on SERPs to keep people in search results, rather than sending the traffic to your page. Not nice!
TikTok is the fastest growing app in the world...but it really seems like Vine v2.0
Pour one out for Vine, because it has re-emerged in the best way possible.
Francis and Jeff react to 2 stories in the news and plunge into the crisp, blue waters of influencer marketing to attempt to make sense of it (for better or for worse). Surprisingly, the conversation covers the idea of ethics in the industry, and leads the boys down some interesting and surprisingly roads.
6:20 - Michael Arnstein is going to jail for trying to get his bad reviews off of Google, which leads to a conversation about reputation management. How much do bad reviews affect a website? Is there a way to claw back from a bad review? Jeff provides an answer thanks to a story about a bad experience he had buying a car and how he turned into "that guy" on yelp raving about poor customer service.
20:00 - A New York Times opinion piece by Kara Swisher lays the groundwork for a conversation about the prospect of a Chief Ethics Officer position for tech companies. Is this role needed? And what does it say about the tech industry that a role like this is even needed? Francis also talks about an app called iFart. Keeping it classy as always.
31:00 - What is influencer marketing and is there a place for it in a content marketing strategy? For Reebok, the prospect of it was enough to create an entire in-house team. There's a light and dark side to this, and Jeff and Francis explore the nuances of both. And the dark side is something the really grinds Jeff's gears.
Francis, Jeff and new guest Sonny Sharp dive into a Forbes article that lists the 5 most important content marketing trends in 2019. Hint: some of these "trends" are absurdly useless.
7:00 - Content marketing will become "marketing." Basically, everything is all moving online, so basically traditional marketing has just turned into content marketing. Is there a place for direct mail? Is there a place for bus ads?
16:00 - Strategy will be important in 2019. Are you kidding me? This is a trend? How could a premier publication like Forbes have nothing more insightful to add than "strategy is good." Sonny and Jeff rage out on SEO agencies for perpetuating the lack of education in the market.
28:00 - The marketing funnel has to die. It assumes a linear and homogenous path for every type of visitor, when in reality, the funnel only makes sense in our heads, and not in reality.
40:00 - Our bold predictions for 2019, including the singularity taking all of our jobs.
5:00 - Using empathy to create more compelling content. Sonia Simone wrote an awesome article that explains how to walk the line between having a brand voice and personality, and not offending half your audience. The gist of the conversation is around how to be the Chief Empathy Officer for your audience - how do you create content that's really going to solve their problems? How are you going to select topics that truly matter to them?
18:00 - Creating content as a team activity. Imran Tariq brings up an interesting concept: using a team to create content. Jeff and Francis talk about how this strategy can be extremely useful, and how it can quickly become a major detractor. Listen to the intern, listen to the CFO, but make sure the specialist decides which ideas are good and which are bad.
33:00 - SEO is an $80 billion industry, apparently. Great article found on SparkToro's Trending tool. But the real interesting topic is at the bottom of the article: will Google change the rules? Have we put all our eggs in the Google basket in the hopes that they don't pull the rug out from under us?
8:00: Listen here, folks, we are all about a free market and Google Search is a perfect example of a working system. But when "Mesothelioma cancer lawyer" is fetching $226 per click, then you KNOW these lawyers are fighting like a pack of wolves for those afflicted with a terrible disease. Further, some of the most expensive terms on the list are drug and alcohol treatment-related phrases. Again, people making a killing off people in need. Right or wrong, it seems that the system is working.
19:00: Elon Musk does everything perfectly wrong as a CEO. Most are tight-knit, neutral, sterile, keeping investors happy. Then you have Elon Musk who just wants to create cool stuff, including a Rainbow Road-themed dashboard on the Tesla, to sending a mannequin into space. We will continue to Tweet at him until we get him on the show.
Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, SnapChat. Does Facebook truly offer anything that can't be reproduced nowadays?
It doesn't look good for the Zuck, as the platform is regularly bleeding users and it isn't replenishing their ranks with new users. Facebook simply isn't cool anymore, and businesses don't invest advertising dollars into things people don't think are cool. We may be looking at the beginning of the end.
82% of all internet traffic will be streaming video by 2021. But wait a minute...what KIND of video traffic? Marketing reports love to state this statistic as though it represents an opportunity to gain massive viewership from consumers DYING to watch explainer videos. But with a little research, you will see that this data also includes streaming over-the-top devices (AppleTV, Roku, etc.) and...adult websites. No judgment here, but make sure you dig a little deeper into the data!
"Snackable Content" might just be the most obnoxious buzzword in the marketing industry, and to our delight, Andrew Davis absolutely crushed it at CMWorld.
18:00 - Why is long-form content the most attractive person at the bar? Mitch Joel, Dorie Clark, and Hall of Famer Ann Handley explain why long-form content is the only way to safeguard against the commoditization of content (boring content).
27:00 - Original research is BOSS. SurveyMonkey gave an amazing presentation on how original research performs leaps and bound beyond opinion pieces. They also generate the most links.
36:00 - If you aren't podcasting, you're a moron. Jeff discusses statistics that prove podcasting needs to be a mandatory part of a content strategy.
Yes, believe it or not, president Trump has accused Google of doctoring results, but is he that far off base? Jeff and Francis discuss how left-bent silicon valley tech companies Facebook and Twitter were caught favoring content.
Alex, play Africa by Toto. Jeff and Francis discuss a changing world of voice search and how it will impact content marketing and SEO.
What content marketing beliefs need to die? Jeff and Francis share their thoughts on the burnt out, tired phrases and beliefs still being touted today.
How long is it going to take for your content marketing program to generate revenue? Francis and Jeff discuss studies, both internal and external, that answer this question.
Google's algorithm update pulverized the health and wellness websites of the world, possibly due to E-A-T signals. Francis explains what it means to create authoritative content.
Jeff gets a nerdy SEO article published on Moz and discusses some of the findings of the study.
The lost episode - Francis and Jeff record a podcast and lose all the audio. So they hopped on the phone, hit record, and winged it. They talk about the biggest goofs they have made in their careers in content marketing.
Francis gets lost in an absurd analogy of your audience getting lost the in the ether. Jeff bashes whitepapers in favor of ebooks. Jeff explains that most digital marketers have no idea who their true competitors are.
The machine is becoming self aware, and it's breaking into content creation, content direction, and technical SEO
Francis asks Jeff what the hell SEO is and why he cares, Jeff asks Francis when AI is going to put him on the street, and Francis asks Jeff what to publish on holidays.
Welcome to the content marketing podcast for NORMAL people.
We incorporate the human element into marketing discussions. Life should be fun, so we incorporate humor into every discussion we can.
We poke fun at bad practices.
We explain complex topics in Layman's Terms. So everyone can understand the topic.
Want to talk marketing issues? Join us. Want to talk artificial intelligence? Join us. Want to laugh? Join us.
But mostly, we just want to see how many pop culture references (mostly Top Gun) we can squeeze into normal conversations.