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    The Benefits of Data-Driven Decision Making

    According to recent research by IDG Enterprise, more than half of (53%)  decision-makers at enterprises reported that their company was currently planning on implementing a data-driven project of some sort in the near future. The same study also found that 78% of individuals surveyed felt that the analysis of data for decision-making would “fundamentally change the way their company does business”. Furthermore, 71% of these same respondents also felt that this endeavor would create additional revenue streams and opportunities for business within just a few years.

    If these statistics show us anything, it’s that more and more companies looking to achieve success in today’s business landscape are beginning to see the value in data and the profound impact it can have on the decision-making process. It’s easy to understand why. Companies who adopt a data driven approach report not just higher profits, but also higher productivity than those who don’t. If you’re currently interested in learning more about data-driven decision making and how it can benefit your company, then this article will serve as a great resource to help educate and inform you on the concept.

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    What is data-driven decision making (DDDM)?

    Data-driven decision making (also referred to as DDDM), is the process of gathering and analyzing data for the purposes of using the insights gained to influence important business decisions. Data-driven decision making is more than just simply browsing through website analytics or sales and customer data to get a feel for what future steps should be taken. It involves the creation of a systematic approach to data collection, analysis and implementation of data-driven decisions, as well as an investment in quality tools and skills in order to facilitate this approach.

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    Why make data-driven decisions?

    Data-driven decision making is superior to other forms of decision making because it ensures that decisions are based on logic and reasoning as well as supported by numerical evidence. Without the use of data to inform decisions, decision makers run the risk of being subconsciously influenced by factors such as bias, external stimuli such as the opinions/demands of others, or acting on assumptions, gut-feeling or theory.

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    The benefits of data-driven decision making

    There are numerous benefits to using data to influence the decision-making process. Data-driven decision making is beneficial because:

    • It is objective. Data-driven decision making relies on statistics and numerical data and as a result is an objective process.
    • It can be easily evaluated. The great thing about data-driven decision making is that it can be easily evaluated based on how the implementation of certain decisions impact various metrics.
    • It facilitates greater control. With data-driven decision making you gain greater control over the direction of your business and the quality of your decisions. This is because it is based on objective data, concrete evidence and results can be effectively measured in order to assess impact.
    • It increases agility. When data is influencing the decision making process, companies become more agile. They are able to detect new business opportunities sooner, identify issues more quickly (and at times even proactively), as well as respond to market changes more swiftly.
    • It promotes greater transparency/accountability. Data-driven decision making is based on objective data and numerical information and as a result, facilitates greater transparency and accountability with regards to the decision making process.

    As you can see, data-driven decision making provides businesses with numerous benefits which can have a profound impact on everything from business operations to customer service, sales, growth and expansion. Furthermore, it is extremely versatile and can be implemented in virtually any area of your business where you are seeking improvement.

     

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    Implementing a data-driven approach

    There are essentially five steps to implementing a data-driven approach to decision making. These steps will provide you with a guideline when it comes to building a systematic method that integrates well with your current business model.

    1. Define your goal. The first step is defining your objective. What is it that you wish to accomplish with data-driven decision making? Are you seeking greater sales? More efficient operations? Increased customer retention rates or an improved customer experience? Whatever the goal may be, it needs to be defined, focused, documented and communicated with your team in order to lay the groundwork for success. Communicating with members of your organization about the importance of this approach also helps to establish the right culture and shared values necessary in order to be truly effective. Remember, it’s a team effort, and everyone needs to be on board and on the same page in order for this to work.

    2. Establish a hypothesis. The next step involves formulating a hypothesis. Your goal/objective is what you would like to accomplish, however it’s necessary to come up with an initial proposed strategy for accomplishing it. Focus on the area of business where you feel data-driven decision making will have he greatest impact. For example, perhaps your goal is to generate more leads by building your email list. Your hypothesis could focus on creating a lead magnet of sort such as a downloadable case study in order to impact the amount of email subscriptions you receive (i.e. If we add a lead magnet in the form of a downloadable case study to our website, we will increase email subscriptions).

    2.Identify data need. The next step involves identifying your data need. There are two general types of data: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is non-numeric and more subjective in nature than quantitative data, which is numeric and objective. Quantitative data is what pops in mind when people are talking about big data.

    3. Build data process. Once you’ve identified your data need you will need to figure out how you are going to collect the data. Is this something your company is capable of doing itself or will you need to outsource the data collection process? Perhaps you’re in a situation where you already have a process for collecting the data you need. If this is the case then you won’t have to worry about this step, but you will have to ensure that your data is clean. If you do not currently have a process for data collection then you will need to decide who will be collecting the data you need. Is this source reliable? How is the data going to be sampled and what is the sample size? What about the number of your data sources?

    Data coming from a single source is uni-dimensional and limiting in scope. As a result, it’s generally best to have more than one data source. A recent study found that the average company uses five data sources. On average, three of these sources are external. What’s even more interesting is the fact that more than half of these companies working in the data-driven business who were surveyed stated that the number of sources they use is expanding. If you plan on using multiple data sources, keep in mind that it’s also necessary to have common variables throughout each of these sources so that information can be integrated from each accordingly.

    Once this is decided upon, it will be necessary to assign data collection and management roles as well as to define various processes and protocols necessary to ensure everything runs smoothly.

    4. Analyze data. Once your data process has been defined and your data begins to be collected, you will have to begin analysis. This is where an investment in quality tools is key. You may find that your company currently has the resources, skills and capabilities to analyze the data on it’s own. If this is the case, then great. However, many companies find that they need a trained specialist in order to effectively handle this task. The decision is ultimately in your hands.

    5. Make a decision – Once your data has been collected and analyzed it is now time to use the information and insights that were gained in order to make a decision. In order to do this, you will need to transform the insights into actionable tactics and strategies that translate to benefiting the business. It will also be necessary to present this data and communicate it in a manner that is easily understandable  even to individuals who are not technically trained. Remember, presentation and timing is everything in order to make an impact. Regardless, you can rest assured that your decision is backed by hard numbers, quality data and supported by a systematic process designed specifically to ensure that your decisions are objective and sound.

     

    Conclusion

    Data-driven decision making isn’t just some new trend that businesses are striving to hop onto in order to remain relevant. It’s a statistically validated process which provides businesses with a systematic and objective approach to decision-making that can help to increase efficiency of processes, effectiveness of decisions, workplace productivity and business growth. If you’re considering leveraging the power of data in order to set your company up for success, then rest assured you’re making a sound decision.

    Have you used data in any form to help inform and lead your decision-making processes? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

     

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    Building a Successful Facebook Ad Campaign with Just $5 Per Day

    If you haven’t started implementing ad campaigns on Facebook then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to generate leads and increase traffic to your website. Whether you’re completely new to the realm of social media advertising or you’ve created ads in the past, this article can help show you how to get your campaigns on track and take back control of your marketing efforts.

    Many people hold the misconception that you need a ton of money to advertise on social media. The truth of the matter is that anyone can build a successful Facebook ad campaign with just $5 per day. If you run the ad continuously throughout the month, you’re looking at an advertising budget of between $150 and $155 per month.

    Now, that may not seem  like a lot to you and the truth of the matter it isn’t – but that doesn’t mean that it’s too small to achieve results. The good news is that it’s smart to start out slow.  Jumping into the world of Facebook advertising and chucking hundreds of dollars at your first ad without knowing what you’re doing is pretty much the equivalent of setting your money on fire.

    The key is to start out slow with a small budget and then gradually build your campaign up once you’ve experimented with different ad sets, parameters, audiences and extrapolated solid insights from your data.  This not only minimizes your risk but increases your potential to find new or ideal demographics to market to.

    This article is going to show you how you can increase your website traffic and boost your conversions by spending just $5 per day on Facebook Ads.

     

    Before you get started

    Setup

    The first thing you want to do is to make sure that you have installed the Facebook pixel on all of the pages of your website. A Facebook pixel is a snippet of code that you can put into your website that allows Facebook to monitor activities on your pages. You also want to set up custom conversions so that Facebook understands which actions taken on your page constitute a conversion for your company. For instance, a conversion could be anything from signing up for an email list to adding a product to a cart or purchasing an item. You can set up your Facebook pixel and custom conversions through your Ads Manager.

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    Benchmarks

    Before you get started it’s essential that you understand how Facebook ads generally perform so that you have a benchmark in order to measure your results against. The average conversion rate for Facebook ads across all industries is .90%. This is the minimum percentage you are shooting for. If you over-perform, great. If you under-perform, then it’s time to start making some changes.

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    It’s also important to get a feel for the average cost per click (CPC) per industry. If your company’s industry isn’t included on this list then you should know that the average cost per click across all industries is $1.72. You may find that in your case this number is substantially lower, or you may find that it is a bit higher. The only way to find out is to roll up your sleeves and get started.

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    Creating Your Ad

    The Basics

    When you click on the “Create Ad” button in your Facebook Ad Manager, a box will pop essentially asking you what your goal is for your promotion. For all intents and purposes, we will focus today on the “Get More Website Visitors” feature as it is best optimized for directing traffic to your website.

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    When you click on the “Get More Website Visitors” button, another window will pop up giving you various options to create your ad.

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    This pop-up gives you a box to type in your website’s URL and also provides the option to choose the format of your ad. There are currently four formats offered:

    1) Single image

    2) Carousel (scrolling images)

    3) Slideshow ( a feature which creates a short slideshow out of a handful of images)

    4) Video

    Generally speaking, video is statistically proven to have the highest conversion rates, but that doesn’t necessarily negate the other options. While I know many people who use videos in their ads, I also know a number of people who have used single image ads and found success with them as well.

    Once you choose the format of your ad, you can proceed with uploading the relevant images/video content via the “Browse Library” button (to upload content from your computer) or “Free Stock Images” button (to select a stock image from Facebook’s selection).

    It’s also worth noting that you have the option to preview your ad as it would appear in your Facebook’s newsfeed via your desktop, via your mobile device as well as how it would appear as a Messenger ad or an Instagram ad.

    After you finish uploading and previewing your content you can scroll down to create the Headline and Text elements. Your headline can have a maximum of 25 characters and your text can include up to 90 characters. Make sure your content is engaging and action-oriented in order to achieve the best results.

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    Audience Targeting

    After this section you will scroll down to the section where you can define your audience parameters. Facebook gives you the following options:

    1) People you choose through targeting

    2) People who like your page

    3) People who like your page and their friends

    4) Custom audiences

    For option #1, you have the opportunity to custom build your audience based on numerous factors such as gender, age, location, interests, behaviors and demographics. Option #2 targets individuals who have liked your page and option #3 targets both them and their friends on Facebook. Option #4 gives you the ability to create a custom audience that you can save and use for future ads.

     

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    Automatic Placements

    Automatic placements essentially gives Facebook permission to spread your ad across multiple placements based on their likelihood to perform.

     

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    Duration and Budget

    The next section you will scroll down to covers your budget and the duration of the ad. Facebook gives you two options when it comes to duration:

    1) Run this ad continuously

    2) Choose when this ad will end

    The option you choose depends on your specific preference. If you choose to run the ad continuously, Facebook will simply continue to run the ad at the specified daily budget until you decide to manually stop it.

    If you decide to choose when the ad will end, you have the option to run the ad for 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or choose a specific date that works best for you.

    Now, we move on to the budget section.

    Facebook gives you the ability to type in a numerical value for your budget and also auto populates the amount of clicks you are estimated to get based on the budget input.

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    As you can see based on the image above, a daily budget of $5 will return between 14 and 40 website clicks per day. You’ll need to have a lead magnet such as an email subscription pop-up in place in order to ensure you make the most of the traffic that is being directed to your site. It’s also worth double checking that your landing page is up-to-par and set up to convert.

    So, let’s say that you type in a daily budget of $5 and you decide to run your ad for 30 days so that in total, your ad budget for the month would be $150.  This means that you can reasonably expect to receive between 420-1,200 website link clicks for the month.

    Keep in mind that your conversions are highly dependent on the quality of traffic that is being driven to your page and as a result, knowing your audience and targeting your advertisements to the right demographic are going to be absolutely indispensable factors to your success. So, the hard truth of the matter is that if you aren’t converting, either your proposition isn’t good enough, or you just don’t know your audience well enough.

    It’s also worth noting that experimenting with ads is also crucial to success. If your first ad doesn’t perform well, don’t get too discouraged (especially if you’re new at this). It takes a while to figure out which content performs best with your audiences.

    For example, maybe you find that certain images perform better than others or that video ads drive more traffic than static image ads. There are numerous factors that contribute to the success of your ads and something as simple as the CTA you include can make all of the difference.

    This is why it’s important to start out slow and think long-term. Patience is key – especially when you’re limited by your budget. Start by running your ads for a short period of time such as a day, two days or a week and then compare performance based on the different types of ads you’ve chosen.

    Remember that a large sample is going to be key to extracting accurate insights on information. It’s going to be difficult to get solid insights from an ad campaign that only received 100 impressions. However, an ad campaign that receives 1,000 impressions is one that you can use to effectively extrapolate insight from.

    Also keep in mind that time of day and day of week can influence your results. Try to keep your experimenting as controlled as possible in order to receive the most accurate insights from your data. If you find something works, keep doing it and if something isn’t working well, mix it up. Constant experimentation will put you on the road to success. It just takes time.


    Conclusion

    Facebook ads are an extremely effective way to boost traffic to your website and increase conversions. Many people hold on to the misconception that you need to have a large budget for advertising on social media, but the truth of the matter is that anyone can build a successful Facebook ad campaign from the ground up with just $5 per day. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, start experimenting and get on the road to your best year yet!

     

     

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    Sources:

    https://www.facebook.com/business/help/434245993430255

    https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/02/28/facebook-advertising-benchmarks

    https://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2015/05/31/what-5-per-day-will-buy-you-on-facebook-ads/

    https://www.godelta.com/blog/how-to-run-facebook-advertising-on-a-small-budget

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    The 3 Step Social Media Guide to Further Your Strategic Goals

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    In the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of businesses found success through traditional forms of communication such as word of mouth, face-to-face and print marketing. Fast forward to the 1950s and television quickly became the primary method to influence public opinion.

    This change made marketing departments and advertising firms absolutely essential to businesses who wanted to remain competitive in the media.

    Then came the internet – and with it, the rise of social media platforms which have grown to such extents that they have become equally as indispensable to organizations looking to make an impact and gain/maintain their foothold on the industry.

    United Global Group put it best when they discussed the significance of social media on business longevity:

    “If an organisation wants to be an active part of their customer ‘s community, to listen to their wants and needs, and to provide an industry leading perspective, then they need the use of social media”

    Point blank.

    Every successful business contractor understands the important role that social media plays in their strategic goals. Successful organizations carefully devise and craft a winning plan to take advantage of the wealth of opportunity that these social platforms afford – and you can too.

    This article isn’t here to delve into in-depth, advanced strategies and tactics that can be used to further your social media agenda.

    This article is here to cut through the jungle of often confusing and convoluted information that is so often presented in social media guides and give you the bare bones of a winning structure/strategy – in just three steps.

    So, if you’re interested in getting a holistic understanding of the necessary steps that need to be taken to master social media for your busines, then this article is for you.

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    1. Plan it out

    As of the most recent Global NGO Online Technology Report, 95% of NGOs agree that social media is effective for online brand awareness. When it comes to the first stage in an NGO’s social media strategy, establishing a written strategy and presence amongst the sea of competitors is the focus.

    While currently just 32% of NGOs worldwide have  a documented social media strategy, the majority of organizations that find success through their social media pursuits credit it to their well-defined strategy.

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    2. Management

    In order for efforts to count, social media management needs to be established so that the day-to-day social activities can be overseen. Trends on social media change rapidly and if you’re tactics aren’t up to speed, they’re simply going to be ineffective.

    Communications staff are the predominant choice when it comes to social media management with 30% of global NGOs assigning the responsibility to someone in such department.

    The same technology report found that  11% of NGOs have a full-time or part-time social media manager currently on board. 20% of these organizations assign the responsibility to “program, administrative and other staff”, while 18% rely on volunteers, 15% depend on an executive staff person for the assignment and 6% assign the duties to a fundraising staff member.

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    3. Integration

    Integration of social media in your email campaigns, online giving campaigns, and on your organization’s website and blog is also a necessity for increasing social following and effectiveness.

    The traffic that is gained on these channels can also be harnessed and re-directed to your social pages via prominently featured social network icons and share buttons.

    Along with these integrations it’s absolutely essential to make use of a sharing service for important content featured on your website. Content such as blog articles, infographics, podcasts, and case studies are all examples of items that can serve as promotional in nature and should have easily accessible share links next to them.

    Applications such as AddThis offer free basic and paid premium services to facilitate social shares and give organizations “deeper targeting capabilities to increase conversions”. Other popular options include ShareThis and AddtoAny.

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    4. Make your Presence Known

    During this time period, a social profile is established on a targeted platform (or platforms) and an organization should focus on various ad-hoc tasks such as following industry-relevant groups and other “like” organizations.

    This is done to help establish your online awareness, network and gain insight into industry competitors and their strategies. United Global Group characterizes this as a “dis-jointed, and highly entropic state of potential meaning”.

    Presence should be consistent across all platforms, which should be chosen based on the social preferences of donors and supporters.
    Facebook is overwhelmingly the most important social platform for businesses and is considered an absolute must.

    Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are close runner-ups depending on your target demographic.

    In order to advance to the next stage of a social media presence, an organization must begin to actively engage with their audience in a more meaningful and targeted manner. Ad-hoc actions such as passive likes will no longer suffice and should be replaced with more engaged tactics such as re-posts, comments and conversations.

     

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    5.Participate

    Did you know that 80% of NGOs agree that social media is effective for recruiting volunteers and 78% agree that social media is effective for recruiting event attendees?

    Additionally, 71% of NGOs concur that social media is effective for online fundraising and donors are increasingly citing social media as a vital “communication tool that inspires them the most to give”.

    Industry leading contracting and research organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Deloitte and Northrop Grumman all utilize social media on a daily basis to cater to existing and potential customers such as DOD agencies, vendors, sub-contractors and potential hires.
    Primary Tactics

    During this stage it’s important to remain alive and active in front of potential clients, partners and talent. Organizations should focus on building their credibility and consistent organic connections with their audience.

    It’s important to note that passive likes and shares are no longer sufficient in this stage of social media presence. Organizations must strive to not just participate but actively listen to their audiences.
    In order to carry this out effectively, ideally a handful of social media admins should be delegated to handle various tasks associated with engagement.
    These include actions such as reposts, commentary and conversations, as well as gaining valuable data and insights from such interactions.

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    In order to graduate from this particular stage of social media presence, further efforts must be made and larger teams must be brought on in order to handle content development, manage and build a greater range of relationships, and promote the organization’s capabilities via engagement.

    These efforts all work together to effectively establish an organization as a viable industry leader – which brings us to the final stage – contribution.

     

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    6. Contribute

    If you’re an NGO looking to make an impact globally, then starting with social media is an excellent way to further your agenda. In fact, according to the same Global NGO Technology Report, a whopping 88% of NGOs agree that social media is indeed effective for creating social change.

    However, in order to make an impact both digitally and globally, your organization needs to contribute value in order to establish itself as an authoritative voice in it’s industry.

    The contribution stage is one that requires the entire organization to work together as a whole to develop valuable, targeted content that can satiate the needs of both your industry and consumers.

    The key takeaway in this stage is – engagement. Engage your audience by offering valuable insights, information and opportunities – anything from case studies, podcasts and webinar Q&As to fundraising events and projects.

     

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    At this stage, your NGO should be consistently creating written content such as articles or news stories and ideally posting at least 2-3 times a week. Content should be dynamic and include both visual and live content as well if organizations are looking to keep up and remain competitive with these rising trends in the coming year.

    Examples of visual content include inspirational messages/quotes, memes, call-to-action graphics, infographs, videos (which can be cross-promoted on both the website and a platform such as YouTube) and more.

    Furthermore, if your organization isn’t making use of native advertising opportunities, you’re going to be left behind. The truth of the matter is that 34% of NGOs currently pay for advertising on social media platforms, and they do this because it works.

    Your end-goal as an organization at this final stage is to establish yourself as a trustworthy, credible leading voice and to generate high-quality leads by actively engaging in dialogue and showing the community that you care.

     

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    Conclusion

    Social media has completely revolutionized the ways in which businesses market themselves to their consumers, potential hires, clientele and other businesses.

    According to the 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report, a whopping 92% of NGOs have a Facebook page with 72% being active on Twitter and 39% participating on Instagram.

    These three platforms continue to remain three of the top social media platforms used amongst NGOs but by no means are anywhere near the end-all-be-all.

    In fact, with the increasing trend in visual and live content, Youtube is steadily growing in popularity with 55% of NGOs being active on the platform. LinkedIn also remains a go-to social platform for businesses and professionals around the world with 51% of NGOs having a presence on the networking site.

    Other platforms such as Medium and Quora are also steadily increasing in popularity as organizations are finding them ideal for authentically connecting with their consumer base by providing them with useful information.

    Regardless of which platform(s) your organization decides to move with, the fundamental idea remains the same: Establish a consistent presence and offer organic connections and value to your audience.

    This proven mantra will put you on the path to long-term sustainability and success with your social media endeavors.

     

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    11 TACTICS TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESSFULLY ON REDDIT

    Reddit has been practically exploding in popularity ever since its inception over 13 years ago in 2005. This open forum has always been geared towards the techie types and even to this day, it still carries that singular aspect of charisma and charm thanks to its primary audience demographics.

    So, if you’re a business that isn’t familiar with what is quite often lovingly referred to as the “front page of the Internet”, then now is the time for change, my dear friend.

    This feed of insanity has quickly been gaining traction with mainstream audiences and was most recently ranked as the 4th largest social media platform in the US by Alexa, just behind Facebook, Youtube and Google.

    Did we mention the platform also boasts the highest daily time spent on the site when compared to the other aforementioned three platforms as well as significantly higher daily pageviews per visitor?

    In fact, the daily time spent on the Reddit and the number of average pageviews per visitor completely knocks every other top performing platform ranking on Alexa out of the water with the exception of two (Salesforce.com and Xvideos.com).

    It event tops Craigslist – which is it’s closest losing contender.

    So if you’re a business trying to figure out how to navigate the strange and uncharted land of Reddit, then you’re in luck, because this guide will give you a specific and actionable strategy to get on top of the Reddit trend for your business.

    This guide can be followed to a T, or simply used to incite inspiration within the context of your particular situation. So buckle up, enjoy the ride, and let’s get one thing straight – this platform is not for the faint at heart.

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    1. Understand Reddit’s primary user demographics

    Of course before you go throwing your content up on any platform, you need to fundamentally understand the website’s primary user demographics. Reddit’s are pretty stereotypical when you think of it within the context of a social media platform geared towards techie types.

    The above graphic is the most recent one compiled based on past year’s data in 2016. However, within just that short amount of time, some of the statistics have changed tremendously.

    For example, from the end of 2015 to 2017, Reddit rose from the 9th largest site in the US to the 4th largest. Men make up  more than two-thirds of the site, with 69% of Reddit users being male (up 16% since the end of 2015) and 58% of Reddit users are between the ages of 18-29.

    Based on data, the average Reddit user is a young (approx. 35-year-old) college educated male with a median income of about $68,000. Users have been skewing younger in more recent years and according to Pew Research Center, users tend to “self-identify as liberal at higher rates than the overall public”, with 47% of male Reddit news users identifying themselves as liberal.

    These guys are also heavy internet users, with 47% of male Reddit users reporting that they are almost constantly online, compared with just “21% of US adults overall”. In fact, Reddit boasts the highest time spent on the platform according to Alexa, with the exception of just two websites (Salesforce.com & Xvideos.com).

    Reddit users spend 52% more time per day on Reddit than the average individual does on Google (7min27sec), 47.57% more time than the average user on Youtube (8min16sec) and 33.62% more time than the average user spends on Facebook daily (10min28sec).

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    2. Know the ropes before you post

    Reddit is a hybrid of sorts, serving as a social media, discussion board and messaging service all in one. Users submit posts which can be anything form links, outside content or original content. Outside content makes up approximately 62% of posts on the website.

    Posts don’t automatically generate as they do on other social media sites, however, they have to be approved – a tactic which helps the platform keep a handle on its essence and keep user etiquette in check.

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    Posted items can be commented on and rated by “upvotes” and “downvotes”, the total sum of which equals the post’s overall rating. This is how the platform’s algorithms get the most popular content to the front pages and users can rest assured it’s already been validated by other users.

    As you can see, topics such as sports rank high in comments and the subreddit r/IAmA does very well as it’s meant to highlight the unique and interesting aspects of users’ lives. r/IAmA also requires users to submit proof and documentation of their identity to the community or moderators if they wish to remain private.

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    Every post also gets classified under a “subreddit”, which can be viewed at as a niche community. In these subreddits, posts with the highest scores don’t always rank at the top, due to the platform’s time decay algorithm, which favors fresh content.

    However, scores can be extremely useful in identifying the most popular forms of content and content trending themes within the platform.

    Even more interesting is the fact that an August 2017 report found that 31.1% of organic searches using the term “Reddit” were a part of the search phrase “Game of Thrones Reddit”. This shows the importance of the platform in discussing pop culture events.

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    Users can also accumulate Reddit karma in the form of both link and comment karma. This number pretty much scores goodwill and offers no overt influence or benefit other than trust.

    It shows other users that you add value to the community – a scoring card which is extremely useful in today’s world where organic and authentic connections are paramount to success in any marketing efforts.

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    3. Brush up on your “Reddiquette”

    Businesses and marketers especially need to be wary about jumping in and engaging on the platform without first knowing the rules of “reddiquette”, also a subreddit (r/reddiquette).

    Moderators are encourage to moderate based on quality, not opinion and users are encouraged to source original content, engage in intelligent discourse, avoid rabble rousing, posting personal information of any kind, trolling or hurling insults.

    Common reddiquette includes tasteful promotion of posts, remain impartial with regards to upvotes and downvotes and user canonical and persistent URLs when possible.

    The list is actually quite detailed and extensive, often with many suggestions listed for the purpose of helping to improve your engagement levels.

    It’s also worth mentioning that subreddit rediquette can be found on the right sidebar of the niche community pages.

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    Everything from community rules, to information on contacting the moderators, to help with making memes and suggested subreddits are included in these sidebars.

    New users should keep in mind that they contain a wealth of information on the tight-knit community’s common practices and as a result, should be considered thoughtfully and carefully so as to avoid being awkwardly pegged as a careless or self-promoting noob (i.e. newbie).

    Did we mention there’s a r/noob subreddit for that too?

    4. Get your meme game strong

    Did we mention Reddit is not for the faint at heart – or the Amish? All jokes aside – while the majority of the platform’s content isn’t categorized for it’s NSFW nature, the truth of the matter is that the NSFW and controversial content is wildly popular and thus gives the platform a reputation laden with infamy.

    One thing is for certain – Reddit users love a good laugh, even if it borders on the slightly to highly inappropriate scale.

    Memes are insanely popular and there are endless amounts of subreddits catered to memes of every type. In fact, memes are such a popular form of content that you can find several suggestions on meme generator sites in the sidebar notes.

    If you go the meme route however, just keep in mind that you can’t go crazy posting them any and everywhere on the platform you please. That’s just not how it works. There are guidelines people.

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    5. r/gifs – Funny animated images for your viewing pleasure

    GIFs are definitely another insanely popular type of content on the platform, with endless subreddits full of various types of  Reaction gifs, especially. However, if you post a gif in the r/reactiongifs, your gif must actually contain some sort of reaction and the title often contains the abbreviation “MRW” (My Reaction When).

    There are subreddits ranging from everything from r/educationalgifs (an example of which can be found in the McLaren screenshot below)  to r/chemicalreaction gifs, r/catreactiongifs and more.

    6. r/gonewild

    Remember how we mentioned that Reddit wasn’t for the faint at heart? Well, this example of one of the most popular subreddits on the site holds true to this sentiment.

    r/gonewild is a self-described place for “open-minded Adult Redditors” to exchange their nude bodies for karma; showing it off in a comfortable environment without pressure and believe it or not – it’s insanely popular – for obvious reasons.

    So how does a business get on top of a trend that is insanely inappropriate and by very definition NSFW? I call it the “Mars Company Approach”. Feel free to quote me. Remember those M&M ads that were insanely popular for their largely adult-themed humor?

    The answer: By poking fun of adult-themes in a PG manner. For example, I created this techie meme which hits the nail on the head and harnesses a the popularity of a subreddit that every Reddit user knows is insanely popular and all while keeping it PG-friendly. #winning

    When you run into issues with the nature of popular or trending content on the platform, businesses and marketers really just have to get a little creative.

    7. r/cringepics – When it hurts just to look

    The Cringe Pics subreddit is definitely a well-known and popular niche content community that can often border on the absurd, wildly inappropriate or strangely bizarre.

    The point of the subreddit is to promote content that depicts “an embarrassing interaction between two or more people”. With this particular community, however the platform goes on to elaborate that “No disgusting, rage-inducing…NSFL content” or personal information is allowed.

    Oh, “NSFL” for those of you who don’t know is “Not Safe for Life”. Not exactly sure you’ll want to research what that entails but – good to know it’s banned nonetheless.

    Much of the content is based on awkward romantic encounters or blasting text message conversations from unrequited love interests or embarrassingly aggressive or forward individuals.

    Source

    The above image screenshotting  a Washington Capitols retweet is just one hilarious example of how businesses gain popularity on the platform. This post was so popular that it gained attention from several media outlets including the New York Daily News, Complex.com, Sports Illustrated and countless others.

    I think it’s safe to say the publicity was well-worth it for the Caps.

    8. r/todayilearned

    This subreddit is geared towards interesting ,funny, informative and scientific content. As a result, it’s a perfect popular choice for businesses and marketers looking to make an impact on the social media platform.

    Harvard University is one organization that does a stand-up job of promoting on Reddit and their post on physicist Lene Hau performed extremely well, while simultaneously redirecting traffic to their Youtube page.

    Source

    If you’ll notice, the Youtube post which the content was pulled from was actually old content from 2011 that was repurposed and marketed on Reddit.

    9. r/Pokemon

    The Pokemon subreddit is a highly popular page as well for obvious reasons. Several businesses and entrepreneurs have come up with interesting and creative ways to market their services and products on this subreddit.

    Individual small-business owners especially can find success in marketing on subreddits as such by appealing to the desires of this wildly popular niche community.

    For example, Cupcakedex promotes their baking services on this particular subreddit and has come up with a genius idea of baking backsides of popular Pokemon characters for fun and attention.

    Cupcakedex promotes this content on their Reddit page as well as their Twitter and Tumblr, amongst other popular visually-driven platforms.

    This is just one of several examples of ways in which businesses can get the attention of various demographics on the popular social media platform by engaging them  based on their self-reported interests

    10. r/mildlyinteresting

    I have to say that out of the endless amounts of subreddits on the platform, r/mildlyinteresting is one of my personal favorites. This platform is full of eccentric, random and interesting little tidbits that users find in their personal lives and decide to share.

    The content is much less shocking and  inappropriate in nature when compared to the countless other profanity and NSFW ridden subreddits and also happens to often have an educational aspect to it.

    Source

    When it comes to creating interesting content on Reddit, many businesses and marketers will find that opting for the educational approach proves to be a very fruitful endeavor. However bear in mind that the platform frowns upon duplicate content, so you’ll have to get extra creative with any potential repurposing efforts.

    11. r/news

    Oh — the news.  This is by far the most popular community on the Reddit platform. Exactly how popular, you ask? Well, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 7 out of 10 users (78%) on Reddit visit the website for their daily news content and a higher number of these users self-identify as liberal when compared to the general public.

    There are also countless popular subreddits such as r/inthenews, r/politics, r/worldnews and more. Businesses looking to remain socially-conscious will benefit from posting content on these classes of subreddits.

    However, it’s worth mentioning that the content that tends to perform best is negative in nature and as a result, adding a little witty sarcasm or humor to a post will often work to your benefit.

    Source

    Conclusion

    One awesome Youtube post from Mashable explains that for many businesses, Reddit’s languages, customs and user etiquette can feel like foreign land of uncharted territory. However, this social media platform is an essential resource for any company looking to stay competitive in the digital realm and its self-regulating marketplace of ideas provides a goldmine of knowledge and insights.

    This is why more and more businesses are seeing the value of Reddit and its impact on their social media and online strategies.

    Use this guide as an actionable strategy that you can begin implementing immediately, or simply as a loose guideline to help inspire you and keep your creative digital marketing juices flowing.  Just keep in mind that Reddit is a tight-knit and closely monitored and moderated community which seeks to keep the user experience as organic as possible.

    Shameless self-promotion will often be marked as spam and users with low karma scores show a lack of meaningful contribution and as a result, don’t fare nearly as well as those who add valuable contributions to the site and users.

    Are you a Reddit user? If you love this awesome platform let us know! Tell us what you think about our article in the comments! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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    7 NGO Leadership Qualities That Drive Business Success

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    In a recent Fast Company article, research showed  42% of individuals stating that they personally believed the growth plans of their organizations were negatively impacted due to a lack of access to quality leadership.

    So, we all know that strong leadership is the driving force behind a company’s success, but what exactly is strong leadership? Well, the truth of the matter is that there are innumerable traits that make quality leaders

    And they don’t all have to be present within someone for them to rise to the top. It just has to be the right mixture of the right ingredients.

    The roles of leaders encompass so  much more than just ensuring compliance and managing expectations and growth. In the case of leadership, the ability to leave a positive imprint on society and make a change is of utmost importance and as a result, these leaders need a specific set of skills and traits in order to get things done.

    Leaders are inherently role models. They’re goal-oriented, they’re decisive, they build others around them up and they embrace change and contrast. Leaders must be multi-dimensional and their effectiveness depends on certain traits that are proven to engender success. In this article, we’re going to bring you our list of 7 leadership qualities that do just that.

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    1. Passionate  and Ambition

    Passion is an absolutely indispensable trait when it comes to leadership. Leaders should be passion about their causes, the organization and it’s espoused and enacted beliefs. In fact, it is passion that drives ambition. When you’re passionate about a project, about a cause, about an organization, it motivates you to be a part of it and to make  a difference.

    Many of us have seen the flip-side of this scenario and the results a decrease in self-efficacy of teams, employee motivation and organizational cohesion. Employees can’t effectively carry out and achieve goals that they don’t care about.

    Many times passionate leadership is needed to drive determination, motivation and achievement.  When employees feel emotionally connected to their organization, they are more committed, engaged and effective and this is a recipe for success and long-term sustainability.

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    2. An insatiable drive for personal growth

    One of my favorite businessmen is a guy by the name of Robert Kiyosaki. He’s a New York Time’s Best Seller and the founder of the Rich Dad Company, a private financial education company. In his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” he discusses the importance of investing in yourself and self-development.

    The idea is that every step of the process counts and leaders who take the time each day to invest in themselves in some way, shape or form — whether it be related to health and wellness, their industry or educationally — have the highest propensity towards success.

    An insatiable drive for personal growth also facilitates accomplishment every step of the way and it’s these tiny victories which build self-efficacy — the building block for achievement.

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    3. Exceptional, open and honest communication

    Did you know that according to Business 2 Community, a whopping 60% of employees don’t understand their organization’s goals? Employees who haven’t been properly communicated to about holistic goals and achievements risk becoming directionless, stagnant and complacent. Needless to say, this isn’t a recipe for success.

    Furthermore, the same study found that 77% of employees feel that their workplace performances would be positively impacted with more feedback from leadership. In fact, according to the same data giving feedback was shown to increase engagement by 60%.

    A leader must be an exceptional communicator — and the first quality that exceptional communicators possess is the knowledge that communication is a two way street. It’s not enough to be authoritative, dictatorial or task-oriented. These are one-way forms of communication processes and leave employees questioning their value and place in an organization.

    Your teams can’t achieve goals they don’t understand and they can’t improve upon their processes and performances without your feedback and input.

    Effective communicators build up their teams, they are open, they are honest and this transparency and regard for others fosters achievement by fostering self-efficacy and thus driving workplace cohesion and success.

    Lastly, a recent study by the Pew Resaerch Center, 84% of individuals claimed that they  felt honesty was an absolutely essential quality for a leader to possess.

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    4. Charisma

    Charisma is defined as a “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. Charisma is just one of those traits that can make all of the difference in the business industry. Think of the greats like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, J.D. Rockefeller, JFK, Sir Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi.

    All of these individuals had a natural ability to inspire others; their magnetic pulls were undeniable.

    Charisma ignites passion. It facilitates action. Did you know that 87% of employees aren’t passionately engaged in their work? That’s almost 9 out of 10 individuals. That’s insane! As a leader, your job is to motivate the masses, to be a rabble rouser, to summon the ranks and take action.

    A recent Broderick & Company survey said that 42% of successful leaders in professional firms are described as “influencers” and 34% were noted as being both “inspirational and passionate”.

    Charisma is a power to behold — it’s gravitational pull is undeniable. Perhaps that’s why they call it “force” of personality

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    5. Grit

    A recent Inc.com article defined grit as “the perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. In fact, according to research by Angela Duckworth with the University of Pennsylvania, grit is a “greater predictor of success than IQ or leadership potential”.

    That’s a pretty big deal.

    A resilient mindset that is able to embrace contrast is unbeatable. The ability to truck through obstacles, to get hit and keep on going just innately  breeds success.  It’s the individuals that view the small victories as important steps along the way and embrace drawbacks who are proven to have the highest levels of  which self-efficacy — the building block to personal achievement. It’s a never-ending cycle, really.

    A famous quote by Robert Kiyosaki is “The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desires, the size of your dreams and how you handle disappointment along the way.”

    Organizations need leaders who can be decisive and strong-minded in high-pressure situations. When the stakes are high and the chips are down, leadership is the beacon of guiding light. They inspire, they motivate, they get the job done and they help others do the same because they have grit and it’s just ingrained in their DNA.

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    6. Proactive

    The saying goes that “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”. This couldn’t be more truthful.  Leaders who want to make a lasting impact on their organization should strive for proactive, rather than reactive leadership.

    Being proactive means thinking on your feet, being decisive, calculated and taking life into your own hands. Individuals who are proactive score high in levels of self-efficacy, as well as strategic and long-term thinking. They have sound judgment, initiative and they take responsibility for their lives and circumstances by being active creators of such circumstances.

    They are risk managers. They plan, prepare and deliver. It’s not hard to understand why proactive leadership is fundamentally important to the success of any organization.

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    7. People-Centered

    This is an important one. Being a good leader, especially when it comes to leadership means being people-centered. People-centered individuals tend to be compassionate and have higher levels of empathy and understanding and perception.

    This is because people-centered individuals genuinely care about and want to help and understand others — qualities which have immeasurable impacts on employee performance and workplace cohesion.

    In fact, the Pew Research Center cited compassion as a trait that is absolutely essential for leadership and Aussie based McCrindle Research found that the majority of individuals surveyed agree that  people-centered leaders have “the most influence and impact”.

    To put it point blankly — your team won’t be motivated if they don’t feel appreciated.

    Supportive and generous leadership mindsets are key to achieving success at all levels of all kinds. By bringing people together, by building individuals up and listening to and addressing their concerns, we positively impact our relationships with them. Employees who see that you’ve put in the time and energy to emotionally invest in them reciprocate and leaders as such breed loyalty.

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    Conclusion

    There are innumerable traits that can work together to create a successful leader and  the seven qualities touched upon in this article are proven to have a direct and positive impact upon the success of an individual in a leadership position. It’s not just enough to manage expectations, teams and grow your business. Leaders must make an impact. Their purpose isn’t just profits and returns, it’s much larger than that; they’re in place to catalyze change, to foster advancement through social praxis and it takes  very multidimensional and highly capable individuals to achieve this.

    But when they do — the results are progression and a better society for us all. They are true agents of change — what better job could be had?

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    Marketing Trends for NGOs

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    Non-government organizations often find themselves having a harder time when it comes to building out and implementing effective marketing strategies due to their unique situations. This, compounded with an over saturation of social agencies can make it quite difficult to stand out in a crowd and formulate an effective plan.

    Furthermore, the world is changing, demographics are shifting, and the ever growing technological advancements are having profound effects on every industry across the board, transforming the ways in which we view traditional forms of marketing.

    However, one thing remains certain — there is a consistent and ever-growing, overarching sentiment for a “back-to-basics” mentality when it comes to Non profit communications. Long gone are the days where self-promotional press releases and monthly email newsletters will suffice.

    Cultivating relationships through organic communications and organizational transparency are now more than ever the key to long-term sustainability. As a result, we’ve brought to you 5 marketing trends that Non profits should consider in 2018 that will absolutely dominate the industry. The successful implementation of these following trends are the key to longevity and sustainability.

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    Authenticity

    Authentic, organic connections are what every NGO should be striving for when it comes to their marketing agenda.  It’s not just the millennial demographic that is tired of traditional in-your face, self-promotional marketing tactics and strategies and boring press releases — it’s the public in general.

    According to a recent Forbes article, storytelling was considered to be one of the “most important marketing tools” for NGOs in 2017. Ever since the beginning of communications, humans have been telling each other stories. It’s practically embedded within our psychology as a comforting act that breeds emotional connections.

    Improving identity through authentic and organic connections is absolutely vital to sustainability in today’s market. You have to become relatable, to humanize your organization and strive to improve engagement with the public, donors and potential investors in both the digital and offline spheres.

    So remember that transparency is key when it comes to

    all forms of communications, especially those of the marketing form. So give a face to your organization and show them that you are invested in the social sphere.

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     Social Media & Livestreaming

    According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of adults (56%) with internet  use “more than one of the five social media networks”. If you’re not already aware of how essential the social networking realm is to society in general, let alone your organization, then you have a good deal of catching up to do.

    In fact, an insane “92% of NGOs worldwide have a Facebook Page” as of this year. Furthermore, a recent 2017 Tech Report found that “72% have a Twitter profile, and 39% are active on Instagram”.

    Again this all goes back to authenticity and the desire for transparency and unadulterated communications. Platforms such as Periscope, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are essential for making an impact with your livestreaming efforts. While Snapchat is currently the most popular among tween and teenager demographics,  data shows a steady and consistent growth in their daily active users, especially among millennials and Gen Xers.

    In fact, the platform Snapchat has “150 million active users; 86% of those users are between the ages of 13 and 34”. Even the White House is taking notice and actively uses the platform for strategic communications. The platform Ironpaper suggests “repackaging the live stream content for further use in blogging, email, and social media content” as an essential step.
    Furthermore with digital payments making their mark on the social media sphere, the ROI of social network investment is going to be practically revolutionized.

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    Influencers

    If you’re in the school of thought that influencer marketing is limited to makeup brands and personal trainers then you’re sorely mistaken. In fact, influencer marketing, including micro influencer marketing is a key marketing trend across all industries — and it’s only continuing to catch on and spread like wildfire.

    According to InfluencerMarketingHub, micro influencers in fact “perform…at least 90%” of influencer marketing as just average every day individuals who have built up a social media following. Influencers are extremely useful in providing assistance through blogs and websites, guest posts and can help in spreading the word via their vast social networks.

    Meltwater Influencer Contact Database is an excellent resource for NGOs looking to do research on influencers in various industries. The platform not only contains a large list of influencers available for contact, but it also conveniently allows you to customize your searches and delve into deeper details on the activities of various influencers. The platform also offers insanely convenient ROI and analytics tools so that you’re able to keep track of certain engagement KPIs.

    Organizations can choose to implement various influencers as brand evangelists or advocates who can help rally their social circles around a cause. According to recent statistics, organizations are making a whopping “$6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing” — that’s a pretty solid ROI.       

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    Content Marketing

    Content marketing should be a foundational piece to any NGO marketing strategy — and for most — it absolutely is. In fact, 92% of NGOs currently use content marketing and consider it a vital part of their overall marketing strategy. Content marketing is a powerful tactic and recent statistics have found that it can harness as much as 6x more the power than other forms of traditional marketing, according to the CMI.

    A large part of this reason is because it’s so versatile. Content is the basis for blogging, website development, social media presence, email marketing  and just about every other form of strategic communications in the digital sphere.

    When it comes to content marketing, developing and properly implementing a solid strategy that is measureable and can be analyzed and tweaked for maximum effectiveness is key to success. Multiplatform publishing is also a trend for 2018, however, it’s important not to widen your focus so much that your efforts become diluted.

    Keep them concise and targeted for maximum effectiveness. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Medium and even Google, which is currently in the process of preparing to launch a podium, are great options for organizations, regardless of industry or size.

    Fresh Perspectives

    With the ever increasing demographic shifts going on (most notably being number of active internet users), it’s important that NGOs imbue a fresh perspective when it comes to the face of their organizations and strive to become sustainable social enterprises.

    Devex is a media platform which caters to the “global development community” and also boasts as the “largest provider of recruiting and business development services for global development”. In a recent article authored by Chris Meyer zu Natrup, founder and director of MzN International, the author discusses the importance of revamping perspective to meet contemporary society.

    Many leaders he speaks with are now more than ever “considering moving the business model from that of a donor-funded, traditional non governmental organization, toward a sustainable social enterprise”. All too often NGOs find themselves heavily dependent on a small handful of large donors and as a result they are in a perpetual state of vulnerability.

    The change from a traditional NGO that “secures and implements government development and aid projects “ to an organization that is able to embrace creativity and independence and be able to “account for its actions openly” should be embraced wholeheartedly.

    When you’re able to diversify your funding bases, you’re able to breathe, spread your wings and enjoy greater levels of both security and simultaneously independence. This is an immensely beneficial state to be in now that authenticity and organizational transparency are so valuable.

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    Conclusion

    If one thing is for certain, it’s that most traditional NGOs find the prospect of implementing successful marketing strategies to be particularly daunting given their unique situation.

    However staying on top of current trends is absolutely essential to success and getting the highest ROI. Through marketing NGOs are able to mold and define their public image, spread their message, attract donors and volunteers and catalyze change.

    However, traditional techniques simply will no longer cut it. Contemporary society yearns for a more authentic connection from organizations and transparency is a vital necessity. With the vast spread of social media and its profound effects on our society, now more than ever is the time for organizations to hone their strategies and invest in ventures such as livestreaming, influencers and multi-channel content marketing.

    Most importantly of these however is the need for a fresh perspective — a fundamental shift from the traditional purpose and identities of NGOs to one that seamlessly melds with contemporary needs and desires.

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    7 Top Business Trends for 2018

    Did you know that 51% of the world population will attain smartphones by 2018? We are advancing at a rapid phase. The same is why not staying on top of trending strategies for business growth can easily set your business back and drastically affect your bottom line.

    According to statistics, online advertising will become the largest medium for marketers by 2018 as it will escalate global spending to 13%!

    So if you’re looking to stay on top of the trends, take a look at this seven top business trends for 2018 to stay one step ahead of your competitors in the coming new year.

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    1. Influencer marketing with social media

    Did you know that 92% people believe an advertisement or information when endorsed by influencers? With more people now than ever tweeting, chatting and sharing their lives online, influencer marketing has become one of the most affordable marketing strategy to grow your business in 2018.

    What is influencer marketing (IM)

    Today, bloggers and active social media members with a high following are believed as genuine and accurate by online communities.IM is a clever way of convincing your customers to buy your products using industry experts to vouch for your company and brand.

    By striking a mutually beneficial deal, you can reach and convert the target audience by using an influencer in your marketing strategy. Scientists believe brands will to create AI Influencers akin to mascots to digitally represent their mission and emerge as key influencer by 2018.

     Success Stories of Businesses That Have Used Influencer Marketing

    General Motors

    GM used influencers such as Guy Kawasaki, Jason Falls, Joseph Jaffe, Robert Scoble and Dom Sagolla to boost the impressions of Chevy Volt.  General Motors also created an exclusive website for the creamy-layer of their customer base to target car troubleshooting.

    Redwood Creek Wine

    Blaze the Trail was a mission created by Redwood Creek Wine to voice sustainable lifestyle intertwined with nature. They offer simplified ways of DIY winemaking to FAQ from prominent winemakers to emerge as a unanimous and authoritative voice as a winemaker.

    How to Use Influencer Marketing for Your Business

     Setting Goals

    To tap into the social media and create a hype, your influencer campaign must focus on information more than conversions.

    • Create an estimate of the budget.
    • Write an action plan for your goals.
    • Identify Relevant Influencers
    • Conduct an in-depth research on key influencers in your niche.
    • Go to Google, Facebook or other social media platforms.
    • Type your niche in quotes along with the keyword “blogger” or “influencer” such as, “SEO Blogger” or “Hair Styling Influencer”.

    Assess the Influencer Hotspots

    In order to reach the target audience as well as the influencer, you must determine where the majority of the audience hangs out such as popular blogs, forums or websites in both your industry and the influencer industry.

    •  Define the total number of influencers you want to use.
    • Connect informally via social media with the influencer.

    Test the Success or Failure

    It is important to review the success or failure of your goals every few months to assess the impact of your campaign.

    • Eliminate the influencers who do not add value to your brand.
    • Revamp the contract of influencers who helped to make online impressions.

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    2. Beacon technology in marketing

    An advanced technology that lets the customer and vendor know each other’s location, beacon technology when used tactically can make huge impacts for locking your target audience.

    What is Beacon Technology?

    Akin to a lighthouse, beacon is a tiny radio transmitter often with Bluetooth. It sends out a signal which can be seen or picked up by others in the same vicinity. Beacon does not track the customer but helps to connect with the broadcasted signal.

    Referred to as proximity technology, small businesses can use the broadcast signal to target the specific needs of customers or their shopping experience or to find items offline.

    Success Stories of Businesses That Have Used Beacons

    Macy’s

    The retail store installed the biggest beacon of the era at its stores in San Francisco and New York with up to 4000 devices throughout the department. With the assistance of Shopkick, Macy’s tracks the movements of customers within the store to recommend personalized products.

     Coachella

    The music festival app introduced beacon help as early as 2014.  Today, if you own an American Express Card and are at Coachella, you can win prizes depending on your location at the festival. Moreover, you can also navigate around the festival with accuracy and planning, using a beacon app.

    How to Use Beacon Technology for Boosting Your Marketing Impact

     Enhanced Mobile Shopping Experience

    As mobile shoppers will expand up to 30% of global retail by 2018, it is natural for your customers to verify your business and products online before walking into the store.

    •  Send out deals and promotional offers depending on where the customer is.
    • Alert the customer with offers based on their past shopping history.

    Connect Directly

    Beacon helps you connect with the customer directly as statistics show 84% people use smartphones during shopping. From personalized welcome messages to punctual discounts, a beacon can target your customers with promotional ads too.

    • Ask to link the social media accounts of your customers while they are in the store.
    • Actively seek feedback from customers.

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    3. Blockchain

    As blockchain nullifies the middlemen often seen in centralized transactions such as notaries and brokers, 2018 will see many companies decentralizing their transactional modules.

    What is Blockchain

    Expected to revamp the business architecture with dimension data in 2018, Blockchain works by decentralizing transactions. It does so by recording the cryptocurrency transactions in a chronological order. Perhaps the most prominent digital currency using blockchain is known as Bitcoin.

    Success Stories of Businesses That Have Used Blockchain

    Slock

    A smart renting company lets users into blockchain technology using escrow and smart funding. Paid via blockchain contracts, Slock lets the customer and seller approve transactions via their smartphones using a Smart Lock.

    MasterCard

    Employed to reduce overhead costs in international transactions, MasterCard provided transparent ledgers of the transaction to the parties involved in the transactions. Having over 35 patents for the new technology, MasterCard uses cryptocurrency Ethereum for global contracts.

    How to Use Blockchain to Grow Your Business

     Track Items

    As a blockchain is infamous for storing accurate information for every transaction, citing a problem is effortless and quick. Tracking supply has helped vendors such as Walmart to track food movements within 2.2 seconds while it took 7 days sans the blockchain technology.

    Smart Contract

    Also referred to as Escrow protection, smart contract lets both parties in a contract carry out transactions automatically minus downtime that disrupts the ongoing contract. The unbendable rules of blockchain override financial regulations.

    Cost Saver

    From reducing the total time to cite an error to completing cross-border transactions without a hassle, blockchain can also open you to the advanced cryptocurrency. Bitwage is such a company that uses Bitcoin to roll salaries to employees.

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    4. Automation

    The most awaited business evolution in 2018 will be automation of business processes.

    What is Automation

    Also referred to as business Automation, BPA or business process automation is a technique of creating an automatic series of actions to run a business. For marketing, automation eases customer data integration to advertising and lead generation while business automation speeds up tasks by bringing down capital costs.

     Success Stories of Businesses that Have Used Automation

    Lowes

    The first retail robot of the nation now works as a shopping assistant at Orchard Supply Hardware in San Jose. Lowes’ robots are called oshbots that help customers and managers locate items in the store.

    Buzzfeed

    One of the most popular websites right now, Buzzfeed has a diverse variety of automated emails according to the user’s choice such as Health, Beauty, Animals, and Entertainment and so on.

    How to Use Automation for Your Business

    Combine and Track Data

    As automation processes can be used to track leads in addition to generating them, it will help your business grow. When specific software for BPA are used, it helps to filter the research and grow the business quicker than while using manual processes.

    Email Marketing

    You can use MailChimp, Aweber or Mad Mimi to send thousands of emails at once to your subscribers. As the same can be scheduled to fit with a routine sans micromanagement, automated email services are a must-have for any e-commerce today.

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    5. Video

    With up to 96% B2B marketers using videos to promote and boost reach and engagement, 2018 is expected to bring video ads to search engines too.

    What is Video Marketing?

    Using video or motion picture content to create promotional ads about your product is called video marketing. From answering questions to creating trailers for events and even 3600-view of the products, there are many ways to use video marketing to grow your customers exponentially.

    Success Stories of Businesses That Have Effectively Used Video Marketing

    Benefit Cosmetics

    All you need to begin live video to engage quick viewers is the social media platform Facebook and a good webcam. With live streaming via Facebook Benefit Cosmetics added over 25000 views to their shows!

    Canva

    By providing onboarding videos to proactively use the services, a prominent graphic design service named Canva used tutorial videos. Until then, users shied away from using the design platform, which changed drastically after introducing the video content.

    How to Use Video Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business

    Customer Questions

    Most people find it easy watch a video for speedy comprehension than reading or listening to audio. You can create videos after asking questions on your official business forum with customers or conducting polls to find trending questions.

    Demonstration of Products

    Short videos can be created to provide a demo of your product and how it works in reality. It can show the functionality of the product, benefits and how it should be used for optimum performance.

    Testimonials

    The current trend in video marketing involves featuring your best fans to give a video testimonial as 51% marketers vouch for video as the best tool for ROI. With 65% visual learners, video testimonials boost the emotional engagement with the content.

    Source

    6. Mobile Optimization

    Statistics show that 69% engagement of users with online media occurs via mobile phones. With statistics expected to peak by 2018, it is wise to begin optimizing your website for mobiles right away.

    What is Mobile Optimization?

    Modifying the design, content, font and resolution of your webpage to adapt to mobile screens is known as mobile optimization. You can also use mobile optimization with high-end tools such as WordPress to automatically alter the website content to match with the user’s device.

    Success Stories of Businesses that Have Used Mobile Optimization 

    Skyscanner

    A travel website, Skyscanner optimized their website to mobile and furthermore to the world of apps to receive a huge response from the customers. It grew 12 times more users than the usual rate with 10 times better loyalty and engagement.

    Rappi

    A Latin American home delivery services for commodities to cash, Rappi engaged 50% more users 2.8 times better results after optimizing the service for mobile users.

    How to Optimize your Business for Mobile Technology 2018

    Responsive Web Design (RWD)

    Using an appealing font style and size that is easily readable on multiple smartphones is the best cue for an RWD. Your loading speed to landing page strategies, many factors come together to create an RWD.

     Using Mobile SEO Strategies

    With half the traffic online accounting to mobile users it is easier to convert your traffic with mobile optimization. Moreover, Google favors websites with mobile optimization if your page is SEO rich and uniquely valuable.

    Tools to Automatically Adapt Webpage for Mobiles

    You can also use CRM tools that can automatically modify your page to fit the width and specs of the mobile viewed from. You can also use sales funnel techniques to other professional services to improve the engagement and conversion rate of your content.

    Source

    7.  Augmented Reality

    With Apple and Google set to bring ARKit and ARCore, Augmented Reality will be the biggest trend of 2018, thanks to the mushroom growth of mobile users in the past decade.

    What is Augmented Reality (AR)

    Distinct from Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality refers to the enhancement of one’s physical world while AR displaces the reality with a simulation.

    Success Stories of Business that used AR

    IKEA

    The official IKEA AR app offers the experience of digitally trying-out furniture for your home using the internet and a smartphone.

    Pokemon Go

    As Pokemon Go received $600 million in mobile AR technology, there are no limits to how you can implement the same for a business today.

    How to use Augmented Reality in Your Business

    Interactive Branding

    For employees and customers, AR can bring varied goodies. While employees from remote destinations can be trained using AR, customer feedback and engagement spikes with AR apps. It is expected that in the future, users can repair things via a smartphone by pointing the camera at it.

    Better Demonstration

    You can use the technology to offer your customers to do a trial run of your product with AR. For example, if you own a jewelry shop, create an AR app for customers to try the jewelry before purchase.

    In a Nutshell

    With critics discussing digital revolution to augmented reality and robot assistants, 2018 is expected to change the face of advertising as we know it. Statistics predict 47% businesses will develop official apps for their business by the end of 2018!

    Are you ready for the challenging trends of business growth for 2018?

    Sources

    http://www.the-social-pro.com/influencer-marketing-next-big-thing/

    http://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/influencer-marketing.html

    https://medium.com/the-mission/the-future-of-influencer-marketing-in-2018-a-virtual-version-of-yourself-51306c2ca51c

    https://www.emarketer.com/Interview/Influencer-Marketing-Helps-Chevrolet-Look-Good-While-Doing-Good/6002007

    http://www.ion.co/11-essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2016

    http://www.jeffbullas.com/9-reasons-why-general-motors-social-media-marketing-competition-was-a-success/

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251645

    https://www.proximity.directory/blog/why-every-small-business-should-use-beacon-technol

    http://theconversation.com/finally-interesting-uses-for-the-blockchain-that-go-beyond-bitcoin-51213

    https://www.blockchaintechnology-news.com/2017/10/23/mastercard-opens-access-blockchain-api/

    http://business.financialpost.com/technology/10-large-food-and-retail-companies-team-with-ibm-on-blockchain-for-tracking-supply-chain-safety

    http://investinghaven.com/growth-stocks/blockchain-top-tech-investing-trend-2017-2018/

    https://execed.economist.com/blog/industry-trends/5-applications-blockchain-your-business

    https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2016/07/5-brands-crushing-marketing-automation/

    https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-to-automate-your-business.html

    https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/02/video-marketing-trends.html

    http://www.chiefmarketer.com/96-b2b-marketers-use-video-content-marketing-report/

    https://neilpatel.com/blog/live-streaming-importance-2018/

    https://boast.io/20-statistics-about-using-testimonials-in-marketing/

    https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/6-innovative-brand-uses-facebook-live-so-far/1404764

    https://www.brightvessel.com/will-video-marketing-look-like-2018/

    https://www.appcues.com/blog/the-5-best-user-onboarding-experiences/

    https://www.marketo.com/mobile-marketing/

    https://www.appsflyer.com/customers/skyscanners-mobile-first-transformation/

    https://www.appsflyer.com/customers/Delivering_Success_In_a_Service_Economy_Through_Mobile_Data/

    https://devrix.com/tutorial/small-business-marketing-statistics-trends-2018/

    https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/256143/84-of-consumers-use-smartphones-while-in-a-store.html

    https://www.websitehostingrating.com/internet-statistics-facts-2018/

    http://www.customlogocases.com/blog/mobile-marketing-guide/

     

     

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    Growth vs. Scaling: What does your business demand?

    Source

    With statistics showing 70% startups finding it hard to scale their business, it is easy to go wrong. If you’re amateur trying to transition from scale your business from growth, we have an action-packed article chock full of what you need to start scaling right away.

    Scaling does not replace growth, but focuses on it exclusively using strategic action plans. According to a recent study, startups that succeed with scaling, are known to raise upwards of 250% more money than they anticipated. The same study reveals that successful businesses who used scaling had upwards of 360% of user growth too!

    But, if both growth and scaling strategies increase your revenue, what makes them distinct? The smartest business minds have cracked it already. Are you ready to learn how to scale your business into a viral product?

    Growth and Scaling Explained

    There are four strategies or stages for succeeding in any business today; they are

    1. Launch
    2. Growth
    3. Sustain
    4. Scale

    When developed into effective strategies, these four steps help businesses to effortlessly transition from one to another for formulated success.

    Source

    What is Growth?

    The percentile increase of benefits is referred to as growth in corporate lingo. It is the immediate stage after implementation where resources and revenue are equally added to the business.

    The best strategy to focus on after launching your product, growth is inevitable to the success of any business.

    Most businesses follow the model of growth to progress. To increase their profits, companies add more resources such as staff and raw materials for boosting the total products they make or clients they take.

    Source

    What is Scaling?

    Once you’ve established consistent growth, it is time to reduce the principal costs and add more to your profits and revenue. Scaling in terms of business is creating a sustainable growth that does not eat up all your resources or revenue to expand. It increases the revenue by simultaneously bringing down the total cost of operations.

    Efficiency and replicable capabilities make a company sustainable. Scaling is a strategy to hone your skills of becoming an expert in what you do. Often, companies are stuck at the stage of growth without funds or direction due to their lack of planning for scaling.

    Source

    Streamlining the Differences: Growth Vs Scaling

    You must start with growth, but always aim at scaling your business architecture as it is the way great entrepreneurs make their mark.

    Change is an inevitable guest that comes with growth. Millions of new startups are born every day across the world. But, very few remain or even become an industry expert. You must learn to welcome the change as unplanned changes can be costly such as in the case of Zappos who had to let go of 15% staff during their transitional stage in sustainability!

    1.    Resource and revenue

    The most straightforward difference between growth and scaling in business is the total resources and revenue generated. In a growth strategy, a business has to offer high resources for a fixed revenue but once you scale the business, your revenue grows exponentially in addition to saving the resources.

    2.    Volume in growth ncreases when you scale

    While growing a business changes the structure of your business plan, it can welcome a static or fixed growth too. On the other hand, scaling makes you grow into a big business by multiplying your growth without sacrificing on resources.

    The volume in the growth of a business is the chief effect of scaling, also referred to as long term growth.

    3.    Scaling systems can manage themselves

    While the growth of a business is measured as a single entity, scale analyzes multiple parameters. Many businesses neglect the necessity of a clear structure when they are starting out and often end up quickly overwhelmed in the face of growth.

    Scaling teaches you ways to sustain the business with more ROI while using fewer resources. A growing company will find it hard to manage itself in the face of emergencies, while a scaling business can face boon or bane in calm.

    4.    Risk Management 

    Growing comes with a lot of unplanned risks as you’re unaware of the algorithms that might affect your rate of success or failure. When you begin to scale the business, risk management comes as the insurance for your success. Scaling will help you focus earnestly on the critical tasks without compromising on your resources or revenue.

    Businesses aiming to cut down the risk with scaling require the creation of risk assessments too. Hence, scaling can help you cope with the risks better than in a growth strategy. Moreover, it will make expansion easier in the near future as well.

    5.    Recurring Customers and Revenue

    When observed exclusively, the growth of a company is based on the new customers it generates. However, scaling the business can help create sustainability by bringing in repeat customers.

    The aggregate result of standardizing the business and creating repeat processes using scaling makes your business efficient and fast. As a result, you create recurring revenue by establishing repeated actions with more ease. The repeatable business architecture of scaling relies on automated services and outsourcing.

    Source

    Successful Strategies for Scaling your Business

    If your business is a rising startup, you might want to scale your business before it’s too late. Scaling helps to generate the revenue faster than it does with straightforward growth. The scaling strategy will give you more time to exponentially grow your business without relying on bulk resources.

    1.    Assess your Capacity to Scale

    Not all companies are easily scalable and change can often cost more than you’ve bargained for! Create a database listing the capacity of hours, work, staff or budget you can put in for scaling processes.

    To assess your capacity to scale, you must actively make plans based on your future goals. Then move forward with designing the best business architecture that you can based on these goals.

    2.    Create Realistic Plans and Estimates

    Another way to create substantial scaling structure for a business is by revamping disoriented visions and missions of the company.

    Often, companies spend more time and resources in decorating the working ethics that they forget to draft tangible data on the target reach and financial future of the company. Replace meaningless statements to create effective estimates of the budget and resources you aim to achieve. To do so, start by studying your target audience.

    Wal-mart is one of the smartest businesses that drafted a realistic scaling for better reach. Instead of chasing big cities for a rapid growth of revenue, Wal-Mart targeted the small markets in the Midwestern demographics. This way, the supermarket mogul saved energy and money to compete with fierce markets such a K-Mart and chose horizons sure to win!

    Source

    3.    Standardize Work Habits

    Many amateur entrepreneurs aim at scaling with the misconception that standardization limits creativity. Habits are scientifically proven to ease up the brain, helping it to focus on graver things.

    In the same way, by creating regular routines and streamlining processes, you will save time, energy and money. Using automated processes for everything from project management to marketing to social media can help you focus on the newer possibilities for applying sustainability to your business.

    In fact, opposite to the consensus, standardization nurtures creativity. Moreover, automated tools are renowned for giving deeper insights about the customer engagement ratio of any business nowadays.

    4.    Re-establish the Personality of your Business

    Referred to as core competence by Forbes, scaling can be used to focus growth by harnessing the core traits of the business.

    You must revamp the aims of your company to gain the competitive strength in what you’re best at, depending on the market you’re aiming to penetrate. To exemplify an imaginary way to implement any strategy, you can start by hiring people with an expertise in interior designing, if you’re starting an interior designing firm.

    Blackberry is one of the infamous failures in the corporate sector. It failed due to lack of realistic vision, which led them to ignore the likes and dislikes of the emerging mobile audience.

    5.    Collaboration Network

    Another way to scale your resources for an exponential increase in revenue is by collaborating with other market partners and distributors who can uplift your business. You can begin by building a collaborative team or staff and then extend your community to established companies who would vouch for your services.

    Collaborating with industry experts gives you a better edge over the competitors as well as the target reach. It can even open your product to new types of customers!

    When you venture outside the business for collaboration, it creates professional alliances as well. Up to 60% startups work together and gain cost-efficiency to cross promotions and marketing bonuses. A successful scaling can be seen when Apple collaborated with Nike for producing fitness accessories for a mixed demographic!

    In a Nutshell

    We obviously recommend scaling your business if you haven’t started already. So, if you’re finding it hard to figure out distinct traits that signify the functionality of scaling over growth for businesses, now you have your answer. Oh, and you also have a few little bits of actionable advice as well because these five strategies above are customized to help businesses just like yours.

    Sources

    https://www.conversational.com/the-difference-between-growth-vs-scaling/

    https://www.inc.com/jason-albanese/how-to-scale-a-business-not-all-business-models-are-created-equal.html

    https://medium.com/evergreen-business-weekly/scale-as-competitive-advantage-when-scale-is-your-ultimate-weapon-and-how-to-use-it-917d0d0c58d5

    http://mashable.com/2011/03/14/small-business-collaboration/#827Ut2Ooz8qd

    https://www.businessbusinessbusiness.com.au/growth-vs-scale-business/

    https://joshlowryblog.com/2012/03/15/what-does-scale-mean-in-business/

    http://www.edisonpartners.com/blog/5-strategies-scaling-growth

    http://www.aberdeenessentials.com/cfo-essentials/scale-vs-growth-for-the-midsize-enterprise/

    https://www.fundable.com/blog/post/growth-vs-scaling

    https://www.techstars.com/content/homepage/statistics-scaling-startups-growth/

    https://productive.speedlancer.com/what-does-it-actually-mean-to-scale-your-startup-8cc17682b28e

    https://shockwaveinnovations.com/2013/03/16/the-difference-between-growth-and-scalability/

    https://hbr.org/2016/07/midsize-companies-shouldnt-confuse-growth-with-scaling

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/philipsalter/2016/05/02/the-six-steps-to-scaling-a-business/#40cc13a01ca9

    https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/ten-pitfalls-of-strategic-failure-3225#p0j0rY8qWxoptBzY.99

    https://www.fastcompany.com/1614223/eleven-lessons-scaling

    https://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing-strategy/cost-effective-marketing/how-to-set-up-a-successful-marketing-collaboration

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