The 7 Fastest Ways Leaders Kill Company Cultures Without Realizing It

Culture is critical for your business’s long-term growth and profitability.

Ultimately, businesses with strong company culture perform better than companies without it — for instance, organizations with deliberately developed company cultures experience a 14 % turnover rate , compared to a 48% turnover rate at companies without strong culture.

Those same culture-strong businesses also see a 19 % increase in operating income , as well as a 28 % boost in earnings growth.

Many organizations might look at high turnover rates and believe that the issue is their workforce quality. However, that is not the real cause of turnover rates. High turnover rates, as well as other operational issues, are often reflective of bad company culture.

To fix an organization’s culture, you must start at the top — which is why I’ve cultivated this list of the seven ways corporate leaders unwittingly erode trust and create a toxic company culture. Keep reading to make sure you’re not accidentally making one of these grave mistakes.

1. Allowing “helpfulness” to go awry.

No one likes being micromanaged. It clearly implies a lack of trust.

Sometimes, managers nitpick every task and assume they’re assuring success — but, instead, all they’re doing is aggravating their employees.

Additionally, those managers have created an opportunity for team members to simply follow directions, contribute the bare minimum, and collect a paycheck.

“In an environment of trust, employees have the freedom to explore, innovate, create, stretch, and yes, sometimes make mistakes,” says Bob Whipple of Leadergrow Incorporated .

“These mistakes can be thought of as waste, but enlightened leaders think of them simply as learning opportunities.”

Instead of detailing how every assignment should be completed, managers should establish clear goals and ensure employee preparedness to undertake the job at hand. Managers should express trust, encourage creativity, and push for safe, thoughtful risk-taking.

2. Encouraging hasty hiring.

A bad hire is literally no good for a company. Few veteran staff members are going to want to work longer or harder to carry a bad hire’s dead weight, and few established teams want to adopt a new member who doesn’t add value or mesh well with the culture.

Additionally, a bad hire could lead to lost revenue, or a bad reputation with certain customers.

While it might be tempting to cut corners when recruiting for positions that must be filled quickly, it’s never a good idea. There’s far too much at stake.

“A comprehensive company-wide background screening policy can help to mitigate this risk by verifying the information that candidates provide before hiring, rather than finding out about issues afterwards,” says Scott Girdler of HireRight .

When screening for future employees, always do so in a way that correlates to their prospective duties and responsibilities.

3. Showing blatant favoritism.

Awarding a favorite employee with promotions and bonuses.

Ignoring when a certain high-performing employee breaks dress code.

Looking the other way when that golden team member keeps irregular hours.

Ultimately, this kind of behavior is frustrating to other employees, and leaves them feeling neglected and unmotivated. It can also lead to lawsuits.

Humans are innately biased, so leadership and organizations as a whole must adopt more awareness when making decisions. The best way to avoid inherent biases is by practicing decision making across multiple, diverse leaders instead of leaving those choices to a single supervisor.

4. Bucking the spirit of teamwork.

A company’s leadership may often mistake cooperation with collaboration — a big no-no.

Whereas cooperation involves individuals working independently alongside each other, collaboration involves collective work.

Cooperation leads to individual achievement, which can breed competition and contempt.

Collaboration, on the other hand, creates a culture of sharing where individual success is reliant on group success.

Building a collaborative spirit starts with creating optimized communications. “Having a central place for teams to collaborate, brainstorm, exchange ideas and keep track of progress is absolutely crucial,” shares Raphaela Brandner of MeisterTask . Nothing builds more trust, camaraderie and a shared sense of purpose than supporting open exchange among team members.

5. Encouraging gossip.

Gossip is simply an element of the human experience — but its one that managers frequently ignore.

Additionally, depending on the gossip, and whether it is about personal matters or the company itself, some managers may even engage in it.

A certain amount of gossip is always going to exist. However, what lies at the heart of rampant gossip in the workplace is the desire to know exactly what is going on. Leadership should curb gossip whenever possible by making sure to disseminate and broadcast information thoroughly and effectively.

For example, managers can prevent rumors of layoffs by being frank and open about potential downsizing.

If certain employees are at the root of the workplace gossip machine, employ coaching, progressive discipline, and warnings to stop the behavior.

6. Sending mixed messages with employee recognition.

If an employee excels in an organization by operating outside of what the company culture prescribes, then that behavior is what will truly define the company culture.

“Boards and compensation committees need a complete picture of the relationship between compensation as it relates to corporate culture,” says Pearl Meyer’s David Swinford. “One that includes both financial and non-financial rewards, and that goes beyond the board’s statutorily-defined responsibility for oversight and compensation of talent.”

It is paramount to define compensation, accolades and recognition based upon long-term business and leadership strategies throughout the organization.

7. Putting up with bad behavior.

Company leaders often believe that tolerating certain behaviors is part and parcel of being open-minded and promoting diversity. Again, this is a misconception. Whatever a manager tolerates will ultimately determine the company culture.

Micromanaging, rewarding bad behavior, favoritism, and gossip — if you tolerate it, it will take root and proliferate.

Confronting and eliminating bad behavior may be the most difficult aspect of leading a workforce team because it involves having hard, honest conversations. But those difficult conversations are necessary because there is much more at stake than being uncomfortable.

Don’t take the easy way out by saying nothing. Speak up, act, and promote the culture you want your organization to develop and maintain.

Take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Company Culture to learn more about different types of cultures, and get ideas to improve your own workplace culture today.

The General Data Protection Regulation: One Year Later

One year ago on May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect and replaced the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive (DPD) with the goal of significantly enhancing the protection of the personal data of E.U. citizens and increasing the obligations of organizations who collect and/or process personal data.

Although the GDPR is an E.U. regulation, its rules still apply to any business that markets or sells their products to E.U. consumers and/or that monitors the behavior of people in the EU. Basically, if you’re located outside of the E.U. but you control or process the data of E.U. citizens, the GDPR applies to your organization.

The GDPR ensures eight rights for individuals, including granting consumers easier access to the data companies hold about them, requiring companies to inform consumers about such data collection, and necessitating companies to obtain consumer consent before data collection occurs.

If you’re curious, take a look at how HubSpot navigates the GDPR .

Since going into effect last year, the GDPR has already made headlines — regulators fined Google $57 million in January of this year for not properly disclosing to users how the company collected their data for personalized advertisements.

To mark the one year anniversary of the GDPR going into effect, HubSpot partnered with Professor Nicole Votolato Montgomery at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia to evaluate E.U. versus U.S. consumers’ perceptions of the current organizational data practices, online consumer-company interactions, and organized responses to privacy regulations. We wanted to explore how (and if) consumer attitudes have changed a year later, since we last conducted a survey on GDPR .

We surveyed a group of 1,115 subjects across the U.S. and E.U. (United Kingdom, Germany, and France).

Consumers’ focus on the GDPR has declined.

In 2019, consumers aren’t as focused on the GDPR as they were before its implementation in 2018. In the E.U. overall, the number of respondents reporting that they were familiar with the GDPR dropped by 13.6%.

In the U.S., consumers’ focus remains relatively consistent, but overall, far fewer Americans are familiar with the GDPR than in European countries.

Fewer consumers report that the GDPR has improved their interactions with companies.

Since 2018, the number of E.U. and U.S. consumers that claim that the GDPR improved their interactions with companies decreased, with France experiencing the largest decrease of 6%. While the U.S. saw a decrease of less than 2%, more American consumers report improved interactions in both 2018 and 2019 than E.U. consumers.

However, when asked whether they believe that something similar to the GDPR should be instituted in the U.S., only half of American consumers responded positively.

Additionally, while most consumers report that the GDPR hasn’t improved their interactions with companies in the past year, over 63% of E.U. consumers believe that the GDPR has had a positive impact on consumer data privacy in 2019 — fewer consumers in the U.S. and Germany versus other E.U. countries report this belief.

Fewer consumers are concerned with how companies are collecting their personal data.

Even though the majority of E.U. and U.S. consumers report that the GDPR hasn’t improved their interactions with companies since 2018, fewer consumers responded that they’re likely to opt-out of company data collection, with U.S. and U.K. consumers remaining relatively consistent.

Plus, the number of E.U. consumers who report that they’d go a step further to request that companies delete all the information stored about them decreased in the last 12 months , yet increased by almost 5% in the US .

Fewer consumers expect companies to alter their behavior because of the GDPR.

Consumers in the E.U. and U.S. express lower expectations when it comes to companies changing the way they demonstrate, update, and even change the way they address data privacy. Fewer E.U. and U.S. consumers over the course of the last year expect companies to educate them on how they plan to follow the new GDPR regulations.

Fewer still expect organizations to update their data protection policies since 2018 or to stop selling data to other companies.

Additionally, fewer E.U. consumers expect companies to change the consumer data they’re collecting – only the U.S. saw an increase in these expectations, but by less than 2%.

Plus, while one of the main tenets of the GDPR is to illuminate data collection transparency, the number of consumers across the E.U. and U.S. who expect this transparency decreased in 2019, compared to 2018.

Consumers’ expectations about companies’ responses to the GDPR are country-specific.

While consumers across the EU and US are mostly unified in their perceptions of the GDPR, their expectations for companies in response to the privacy regulation differ by country.

U.S. consumers’ primary expectation about these regulations from 2018 to 2019 remains unchanged — that companies would update their data protection policies. Meanwhile, E.U. consumers in 2018 expected companies to stop selling data to other companies, and in 2019, their expectations mirror those of U.S. consumers.

In the U.K., consumers value the transparency of company data practices more over the past 12 months, while French consumers value transparency less. German consumers’ expectations, however, remain consistent.

Research Methodology

HubSpot Research partnered with the University of Virginia to survey consumers in the U.S. and Europe in 2018 and 2019. 540 consumers in the E.U. and the U.S. were asked to respond to survey questions about organizations’ data collection and usage practices and privacy policies in 2018 (the year GDPR went into effect).

1,115 consumers in the E.U. and the U.S. were asked to respond to the same questions in 2019 (one year after GDPR).

7 Ad Design Tips to Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise

Before your copy can persuade an audience to buy your product, your design must persuade them to buy your copy . In advertising, your design catches your audience’s eye and points their attention to your copy. Then, it’s your copy’s job to hold your audience’s attention.

To help you grab people’s attention in your advertisements, we’ve put together a list of seven ad tips, supported by examples, that’ll help your brand cut through the noise. Read on to learn how to craft creatively refreshing ads that will convert your audience into customers.

7 Ad Design Tips to Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise

1. Stand Out From The Crowd

Image Credit : VeryGoodCopy

In a world where countless brands fight for a limited amount of attention, the only way your advertisement can grab people’s attention is by being original.

As a marketer, though, it can be tempting to leap onto the latest trend that all your competitors have already pounced on. If everyone else is implementing the latest tip or trick, it must work, right? To captivate an audience, though, you must resist this urge.

Cliches repel attention. They sap your advertisement’s creativity and can’t activate the prefrontal cortex , which is the part of the brain responsible for experiencing emotions. But how exactly do you create an original advertisement? Consider one of Estee Lauder’s print campaigns from the 1960s.

Back then, Estee Lauder’s main competitors like L’Oreal, Revion, and Helena Rubinstein all ran vibrant, colorful ads in magazines. Every makeup ad was beautiful and rich. But even though they seemed eye-popping at first glance, audiences became accustomed to these types of ads — they all looked the same. They started blending in with each other.

Realizing that no one could differentiate between the brands running full-color makeup ads flooding magazines during that time period anymore, Estee Lauder did something so controversial it was deemed “radical”, “stupid”, and even “ugly” : they ran their ads in sepia.

Estee Lauder’s print advertising move received its fair share of criticism, but they’re ability to be original helped them immediately stand out from the crowd and rake in 25% more responses than their previous color print campaigns .

2. Turn Your Ad Into a Game

Image Credit: AdWeek

The brain is wired to predict things. It’s an evolutionary trait that allows us to anticipate what’s going to happen next and quickly react to it. That said, advertisements that are predictable only require a shred of thought to understand, so they’re too easy to grasp and, in turn, boring to engage anyone.

With this in mind, if you can scrap predictability from your advertisements, you force your audience into a deeper level of thinking to digest your message, compelling them to pay more attention to it.

One of the best ways to ensnare your audience attention and get them to interact with your advertisement is by turning it into a game. By framing your advertisement like a game that can be beat, just like Fisher-Price’s ad above, your audience has the opportunity to earn an intellectual reward if they spend just the right amount of energy and thought playing your brand’s game and grasping your advertisement’s message, which is something most people won’t ever pass up.

3. Convey One Message — And One Message Only

Image Credit: VeryGoodCopy

Sometimes, marketers think the more benefits and features they include in their ads, the higher their conversion rate will be. But trying to read a jumbled ad requires a lot of thought and energy, so cramming an ad with a ton of copy doesn’t actually grab people’s attention. It repels it.

To immediately hook people and persuade them to read the rest of your ad, consider conveying one message per ad. Spotlighting your product or service’s main benefit or feature will make it easy for your audience to understand its value and increase the likelihood of doing business with you because they’ll leave your ad remembering only one message: your product’s or service’s main feature will benefit their lives somehow, someway.

For example, in Citizen’s ad for their Eco-Drive watch, they only use a single line of copy and a simple image to convey their product’s value to their audience — the watch is powered by light.

4. Make It Visual

Image Credit: VeryGoodCopy

When we were babies, we relied on vision to associate objects with behaviors, like a ball meaning play time. Vision was the only way to learn about the world.

That’s why you can understand visual information in 250 milliseconds and why your visual system activates over 50% of your brain . Visual storytelling is the best way for people to grasp concepts and data easily.

For instance, in LEGO’s ad, they only use two images, a simple lego creation and a shadow of a dinosaur, but you can instantly form a concrete understanding of its core idea — with Legos, you can create anything.

5. Leverage Hyperbole

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Exaggerating your product’s benefits, in a clever and obvious way, is one of the best methods for slipping some humor into your advertisement, which can capture your audience’s attention and trigger an emotional response from them.

For instance, Nikol’s paper towels obviously can’t turn grapes into raisins, but this ad highlights the product’s absorbent powers in such a clear and artful way, they didn’t need to write a single line of copy.

6. Show, Don’t Tell

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Showing your audience something is much more engaging and interesting than telling them it. Relying on implications to convey a message is mysterious, making it more fun for your audience to figure out.

For example, in Siemens’ creative ad, they show the benefits of their product by unexpectedly placing their washers and dryers in a library to show you that they’re so quiet, even a librarian wouldn’t need to shush them.

7. Swap Connotations

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

In relation to food, the word “hot” has multiple meanings: having a high temperature and being spicy. Heinz brilliantly used the connotation of high temperature to highlight the spiciness of their ketchup, and their creative method of communicating the value of their product helped them instantly attract people’s attention.

4 Key Lessons Content Marketers Can Take From Data Journalists

Posted by matt_gillespie

There’s an oft-cited statistic in the world of technology professionals, from marketers to startup founders to data scientists: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.

This instantly-Tweetable snippet was referenced in Forbes in 2018, mentioned by MediaPost in 2016, and covered on Science Daily in 2013. A casual observer could be forgiven for asking: How could that be true in three different years?

At Fractl, the data makes perfect sense to us: The global amount of digital information is growing exponentially over time.

From Seagate

This means that the “90 percent of all data…” statistic was true in 2013, 2016, and 2018, and it will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. As our culture continues to become more internet-integrated and mobile, we continue to produce massive amounts of data year over year while also becoming more comfortable with understanding large quantities of information.

This is hugely important to anyone who creates content on the web: Stats about how much data we create are great, but the stories buried in that data are what really matter. In the opening manifesto for FiveThirtyEight, one of the first sites on the web specifically devoted to data journalism, Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver wrote:

“Almost everything from our sporting events to our love lives now leaves behind a data trail.” 

This type of data has always been of interest to marketers doing consumer research, but the rise of data journalism shows us that there is both consumer demand and almost infinite potential for great storytelling rooted in numbers.

In this post, I’ll highlight four key insights from data science and journalism and how content marketers can leverage them to create truly newsworthy content that stands out from the pack:

  • The numbers drive the narrative
  • Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words (especially by brands!)
  • Great data content is both beautiful and easy-to-interpret
  • Every company has a (data) story to tell

 By the time you’re done, you’ll have gleaned a better understanding of how data visualization, from simple charts to complex interactive graphics, can help them tell a story and achieve wide visibility for their clients.

The numbers drive the narrative

Try Googling “infographics are dead,” and your top hit will be a 2015 think piece asserting that the medium has been dead for years, followed by many responses that the medium isn’t anywhere close to “dead.” These more optimistic articles tend to focus on the key aspects of infographics that have transformed since their popularity initially grew:

  • Data visualization (and the public’s appetite for it) is evolving, and
  • A bad data viz in an oversaturated market won’t cut it with overloaded consumers.

For content marketers, the advent of infographics was a dream come true: Anyone with even basic skills in Excel and a good graphic designer could whip up some charts, beautify them, and use them to share stories. But Infographics 1.0 quickly fizzled because they failed to deliver anything interesting — they were just a different way to share the same boring stories.

Data journalists do something very different. Take the groundbreaking work from Reuters on the Rohingya Muslim refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, which was awarded the Global Editors Network Award for Best Data Visualization in 2018. This piece starts with a story—an enormous refugee crisis taking place far away from the West—and uses interactive maps, stacked bar charts, and simple statistics visualizations to contextualize and amplify a heartbreaking narrative.

The Reuters piece isn’t only effective because of its innovative data viz techniques; rather, the piece begins with an extremely newsworthy human story and uses numbers to make sure it’s told in the most emotionally resonant way possible. Content marketers, who are absolutely inundated with advice on how storytelling is essential to their work, need to see data journalism as a way to drive their narratives forward, rather than thinking of data visualization simply as a way to pique interest or enhance credibility.

Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words

This is especially true when it comes to brands.

In the era of #FakeNews, content marketers are struggling more than ever to make sure their content is seen as precise, newsworthy, and trustworthy. The job of a content marketer is to produce work for a brand that can go out and reasonably compete for visibility against nonprofits, think tanks, universities, and mainstream media outlets simultaneously. While some brands are quite trusted by Americans, content marketers may find themselves working with lesser-known clients seeking to build up both awareness and trust through great content.

One of the best ways to do both is to follow the lead of data journalists by letting visual data content convey your story for you.

“Numbers don’t lie” vs. brand trustworthiness

In the buildup to the 2012 election, Nate Silver’s previous iteration of FiveThirtyEight drew both massive traffic to the New York Times and criticism from traditional political pundits, who argued that no “computer” could possibly predict election outcomes better than traditional journalists who had worked in politics for decades (an argument fairly similar to the one faced by the protagonists in Moneyball). In the end, Silver’s “computer” (actually a sophisticated model that FiveThirtyEight explains in great depth and open-sources) predicted every state correctly in 2012.

Silver and his team made the model broadly accessible to show off just how non-partisan it really was. It ingested a huge amount of historical election data, used probabilities and weights to figure out which knowledge was most important, and spit out a prediction as to what the most likely outcomes were. By showing how it all worked, Silver and FiveThirtyEight went a long way toward improving the public confidence in data—and, by extension, data journalism.

But the use of data to increase trustworthiness is nothing new. A less cynical take is simply that people are more likely to believe and endorse things when they’re spelled out visually. We know, famously, that users only read about 20-28 percent of the content on the page, and it’s also known that including images vastly increases likes and retweets on Twitter.

So, in the era of endless hot takes and the “everyone’s-a-journalist-now” mentality, content marketers looking to establish brand authority, credibility, and trust can learn an enormous amount from the proven success of data journalists — just stick to the numbers.

Find the nexus of simple and beautiful

Our team at Fractl has a tricky task on our hands: We root our content in data journalism with the ultimate goal of creating great stories that achieve wide visibility. But different stakeholders on our team (not to mention our clients) often want to achieve those ends by slightly different means.

Our creatives—the ones working with data—may want to build something enormously complex that crams as much data as possible into the smallest space they can. Our media relations team—experts in knowing the nuances of the press and what will or won’t appeal to journalists—may want something that communicates data simply and beautifully and can be summed up in one or two sentences, like the transcendent work of Mona Chalabi for the Guardian. A client, too, will often have specific expectations for how a piece should look and what should be included, and these factors need to be considered as well.

Striking the balance

With so many ways to present any given set of numbers, we at Fractl have found success by making data visualizations as complex as they need to be while always aiming for the nexus of simple and beautiful. In other words: Take raw numbers that will be interesting to people, think of a focused way to clearly visualize them, and then create designs that fit the overall sentiment of the piece.

On a campaign for Porch.com, we asked 1,000 Americans several questions about food, focusing on things that were light and humorous conversation starters. For example, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” and “What do you put on a hot dog?” As a native Chicagoan who believes there is only one way to make a hot dog, this is exactly the type of debate that would make me take notice and share the content with friends on social media.

In response to those two questions, we got numbers that looked like this:

Using Tableau Public, an open-source data reporting solution that is one of the go-to tools for rapid building at Fractl, the tables above were transformed into rough cuts of a final visualization:

With the building blocks in place, we then gave extensive notes to our design team on how to make something that’s just as simple but much, much more attractive. Given the fun nature of this campaign, a more lighthearted design made sense, and our graphics team delivered. The entire campaign is worth checking out for the project manager’s innovative and expert ability to use simple numbers in a way that is beautiful, easy-to-approach, and instantly compelling.

All three of the visualizations above are reporting the exact same data, but only one of them is instantly shareable and keeps a narrative in mind: by creatively showing the food items themselves, our team turned the simple table of percentages in the first figure into a visualization that could be shared on social media or used by a journalist covering the story.

In other cases, such as if the topic is more serious, simple visualizations can be used to devastating effect. In work for a brand in the addiction and recovery space, we did an extensive analysis of open data hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States is an emotional story fraught with powerful statistics. In creating a piece on the rise in mortality rate, we wanted to make sure we preserved the gravity of the topic and allowed the numbers to speak for themselves:

A key part of this visualization was adding one additional layer of complexity—age brackets—to tell a more contextualized and human story. Rather than simply presenting a single statistic, our team chose to highlight the fact that the increase in overdose deaths is something affecting Americans across the entire lifespan, and the effect of plotting six different lines on a single chart makes the visual point that addiction is getting worse for all Americans.

Every brand’s data has a story to tell

Spotify has more than 200 million global users, nearly half of whom pay a monthly fee to use the service (the other half generate revenue by listening to intermittent ads). As an organization, Spotify has data on how a sizeable portion of the world listens to its music and the actual characteristics of that music.

Data like this is what makes Spotify such a valuable brand from a dollars and cents standpoint, but a team of data journalists at The New York Times also saw an incredible story about how American music taste has changed in the last 30 years buried in Spotify’s data. The resulting piece, Why Songs of Summer Sound the Same, is a landmark work of data-driven, interactive journalism, and one that should set a content marketer’s head spinning with ideas.

Of course, firms will always be protective of their data, whether it’s Netflix famously not releasing its ratings, Apple deciding to stop its reporting of unit sales, or Stanford University halting its reporting of admissions data. Add to the equation a public that is increasingly wary of data privacy and susceptibility to major data breaches, and clients are often justifiably nervous to share data for the purpose of content production.

Deciding when to share

That said, a firm’s data often is central to its story, and when properly anonymized and cleared of personal identifying information, or PII, the newsworthiness of a brand reporting insights from its own internal numbers can be massive. 

For example, GoodRx, a platform that reports pricing data from more than 70,000 U.S. pharmacies, released a white paper and blog post that compared its internal data on prescription fills with US Census data on income and poverty. While census data is free, only GoodRx had the particular dataset on pharmacy fills—it’s their own proprietary data set. Data like this is obviously key to their overall valuation, but the way in which it was reported here told a deeply interesting story about income and access to medication without giving away anything that could potentially cost the firm. The report was picked up by the New York Times, undoubtedly boosting GoodRx’s ratings for organic search.

The Times’ pieces on Spotify and GoodRx both highlight the fourth key insight on the effective use of data as content marketers: Every brand’s data has a story to tell. These pieces could only have come from their exact sources because only they had access to the data, making the particular findings singular and unique to that specific brand and presenting a key competitive advantage in the content landscape. While working with internal data comes with its own potential pitfalls and challenges, seeking to collaborate with a client to select meaningful internal data and directing its subsequent use for content and narrative should be at the forefront of a content marketer’s mind.

Blurring lines and breaking boundaries

A fascinating piece recently on Recode sought to slightly reframe the high-publicity challenges facing journalists, stating:

“The plight of journalists might not be that bad if you’re willing to consider a broader view of ‘journalism.’” 

The piece detailed that while job postings for journalists are off more than 10 percent since 2004, jobs broadly related to “content” have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. Creatives will always flock to the options that allow them to make what they love, and with organic search largely viewed as a meritocracy of content, the opportunities for brands and content marketers to utilize the data journalism toolkit have never been greater.

What’s more, much of the best data journalism out there typically only uses a handful of visualizations to get its point across. It was also reported recently that the median amount of data sources for pieces created by the New York Times and The Washington Post was two. It too is worth noting that more than 60 percent of data journalism stories in both the Times and Post during a recent time period (January-June, 2017) relied only on government data.

Ultimately, the ease of running large surveys via a platform like Prolific Research, Qualtrics, or Amazon Mechanical Turk, coupled with the ever-increasing number of free and open data sets provided by both the US Government or sites like Kaggle or data.world means that there is no shortage of numbers out there for content marketers to dig into and use to drive storytelling. The trick is in using the right blend of hard data and more ethereal emotional appeal to create a narrative that is truly compelling.

Wrapping up

As brands increasingly invest in content as a means to propel organic search and educate the public, content marketers should seriously consider putting these key elements of data journalism into practice. In a world of endless spin and the increasing importance of showing your work, it’s best to remember the famous quote written by longtime Guardian editor C.P. Scott in 1921: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

What do you think? How do you and your team leverage data journalism in your content marketing efforts?

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The 20 Best Video Editing Apps for 2019

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already know you should incorporate more video content into your marketing.

But like most new strategies, you might need to prove its ROI before you get budget. And that can be tricky, because to make a great video, you need a few things — like a camera and editing software.

You might already have a high-quality camera built into your smartphone, but editing your raw footage and preparing it for publication requires a third-party mobile app. You might even need to hop on the computer for the more extensive post-production projects.

There’s a good chance you already have video editing software installed on your computer. For Windows, that’s Windows Movie Maker , and for Macs, it’s iMovie . But depending on the purpose your video is serving — and the content channel to which you’re distributing it — you may find that these options aren’t packed with enough features.

The good news: There are several free and inexpensive video editing apps and tools you can download that run the gamut from super simple to Hollywood-level powerful.

The following 20 solutions can help you make video magic — whether your video is meant for Instagram, YouTube, or a similar channel where you audience is hungry for content. Click one of the links below to jump to a specific type of app, or keep reading to learn about them all.

Instagram Video Editing Apps

Top Free Video Editing Software

Best Video Editing Apps for YouTube

Video Editing Apps for Android

Instagram Video Editing Apps

The following apps allow you to edit and quickly upload beautiful videos to Instagram. None of these apps are limited to Instagram, but are known for their support of this social network.

1. Magisto

Free | iOS , Android

Source: Google Play

Video automation is here — in the form of the Magisto video editor.

Magisto allows you to make incredible videos without ever leaving your smartphone in three easy steps: First you’ll choose your video editing style (the type of story you’re telling), then you’ll choose the photos and video clips you’d like included, and lastly you’ll pick your music from Magisto’s built-in music library.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), this intuitive app helps organize your footage in a video that best delivers the message you have in mind. Why not stop at the free version? Upgrade to Premium or Professional for a small monthly fee and make longer movies with more of your own content.

2. Hyperlapse

Free | iOS only

Hyperlapse is an app created by Instagram itself that condenses videos into brief, hyper-speed videos that you can upload to Instagram or Facebook.

You can choose among a few different speeds, and the app will show you how long the hyperlapsed video will be for every speed in comparison to the length of the video in real time. (So a 40-second video in real time will become roughly a seven-second video in Hyperlapse at 6X speed.) It’s a really cool way to capture something that usually lasts a while — like a sunset or an event setup.

See what happened when I used Hyperlapse to film daybreak at 12X in the video above.

3. Wondershare FilmoraGo

Free | iOS , Android

Source: Google Play

Wondershare Filmora (formerly Wondershare Video Editor) is the perfect option if you want to start out with basic video editing functionality with the opportunity to get more advanced as you go. The app is perfect for Instagram, but can create audience-ready videos for numerous platforms.

Filmora is available for Windows and Mac computers, whereas the company’s FilmoraGo mobile app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

Filmora’s “Easy Mode” strips away the complexity so you can drag and drop video clips, add some music, and produce a finished video in a matter of minutes. The FilmoraGo app has many of these features, plus an Effect Store where you can incorporate preset intros, themes, and transitions into your video creation.

Sound too good to be true? Well, you’re right: The free version of Wondershare Filmora adds a watermark to your videos that you can only remove through upgrading to their paid service .

4. InShot

Free | iOS | Android

There are the times when you just want to edit a video — no fancy collages and no splicing. For that, there’s InShot, a handy app that lets you trim, speed up, or add music and filters to video. It’s pretty fundamental, but with that comes a high ease of use. You can also add a background, if you like, though we think it’s pretty cool to have an overlap of images, like we did with the video below.

In the video above, I took a simple video of a tranquil beach scene, but enhanced it with InShot’s “warm filter” and added a fitting musical track to it — a song called “Pikake Stream,” by Kalani . (I recommend viewing the video in its entirety with headphones, especially if you’re having a stressful day.)

Top Free Video Editing Software

The following tools are most versatile mobile apps of all the free software listed in this article.

5. WeVideo

Free | iOS , Android

Source: Google Play

Cloud-based video editing software (i.e., software that you access via a browser instead of downloading directly to your hard drive) is growing more and more popular. One of the programs leading the charge is WeVideo .

WeVideo definitely offers some advanced features and functionality, including audio editing capabilities, a library of commercially licensed music, and the ability to share videos in 4K resolution. However, the free version of WeVideo isn’t without its limitations.

One major downside is that you’re only given 10GB of cloud storage. If you’re making a one-off video, this is fine. But if you’re planning to edit multiple videos, you’ll definitely need more space. The free version also puts a WeVideo watermark on your videos, which isn’t ideal.

WeVideo is also available as a desktop computer product, and comes with free and paid plans. For complete breakdown of the differences between these plans, check out WeVideo’s pricing page .

6. Splice

Free | iOS only

It only seems fitting that the makers of GoPro would also release an app that allows you — as the name suggests — to splice together different video clips on your phone to create a moving collage.

We had a lot of fun playing with this one, especially since Splice even contains a library of musical tracks that can be used as a background for your finished product. You can also use the app to trim and edit the different pieces of video, and customize transition lengths from one scene to the next.

My colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener , experimented with Splice by compiling the above 15-second video of her dog — using only an iPhone 6.

7. Adobe Premiere Clip

Free | iOS , Android

Source: Google Play

Adobe’s popular video editor, Premiere, isn’t just available on your mobile device — it’s free.

Melissa Stoneburner of Examiner.com calls this app a “gateway” into the full Adobe Premiere Pro video editor for desktop, and we can see this for ourselves. Similar to Magisto (the first video editor on our list), Adobe Clip automatically sets your video to the music of your choice (using Premiere Clip’s library or your own), and offers a Freeform editor that allows you to customize your edits further after this initial audio sync.

Premiere’s equally robust video editing features help you trim, drag, and drop multiple video and image clips — right from your mobile device’s photo and video album — in the order you’d like.

Then, just add proper lighting, manipulate the speed of the video, and share your final product directly on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

8. PicPlayPost

Free | iOS , Android

We’ve already covered the coolness of photo collages. But what if you could make a video collage? PicPlayPost is a simple app that lets you do exactly that. Just remember that the sound from both videos will play at the same time, so be sure they won’t clash with one another.

There are many uses for a video collage app, but my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich , particularly likes the way fitness professional Melissa Made uses it on her Instagram account. She posts video collages with her performing a workout on one side, while she explains the workout out loud on the other.

Best Video Editing Apps for YouTube

Although the video editing services below do not offer mobile versions, they do offer easy-to-learn functionality at minimal cost. These apps are the best for sitting down at your computer and editing amazing video content for your YouTube channel.

9. Blender

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

Source: Blender

The open source program Blender is more than just a video editor: It’s a full-blown 3D animation suite, which allows for modeling, rendering, motion tracking, and more.

On the video editing side, there are a ton of features, including transitions, speed control, filters, adjustment layers, and more. There are also 32 slots available for adding video clips, audio clips, images, and effects, which means you can produce some incredibly complex video.

For the amateur video editor, all the functionality that’s available can be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re looking to produce truly professional-quality video — without having to deal with watermarks — Blender is a solid option. The best part: “You are free to use Blender for any purpose, including commercially or for education,” according to its website. For the fine print, check out its licensing info .

10. Lightworks

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

Source: ZDNet

Like Blender, Lightworks is definitely on the more advanced (and powerful) end of the video editing software spectrum. In fact, it’s a program that’s been used to edit some well-known and award-winning films, including Pulp Fiction , The Wolf of Wall Street , and The King’s Speech .

There are two different licenses you can choose from with Lightworks: “Free” and “Pro.” (The latter of which, as you might have guessed, requires that you cough up some cash.) The main difference between the two licenses is that the Pro version offers more features, including stereoscopic output and advanced project sharing. But the free version is still quite powerful, providing 100+ effects and supporting multicam editing.

11. Shotcut

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

Source: Shotcut

Shotcut is another open source video software — and it’s completely free. It’s possible to use Shotcut to create professional-looking videos, but the interface is tricky to use. Perhaps that’s because it was originally developed for the Linux platform , which looks and feels a lot different from the typical Windows or Mac UX.

With dedication — and time spent in the Shotcut frequently asked questions and how-to guide sections — it’s possible to use this software to create and export high-quality videos, completely for free.

12. VSDC Free Video Editor

Free | Windows Only

Source: Softonic

In experienced hands, the VSDC Free Video Editor can produce some seriously professional-looking video. In addition to supporting nearly every major video format, the program offers advanced video effects, including object transformation and color correction, as well as advanced audio effects like volume correction and sound normalization. And unlike WeVideo, the VSDC Free Video Editor is truly free. You can use the program’s full feature set without having to deal with pesky watermarks.

Unfortunately, there is one catch. If you want technical support, you need to pay. (And because there is a bit of a learning curve, there’s a good chance you’ll need to.) Support for the VSDC Free Video Editor costs $9.99 for one month and $14.99 for one year.

13. Machete Video Editor Lite

Free | Windows Only

Source: Softonic

At the simple end of the spectrum is Machete Video Editor Lite , a free program allowing you to cut, copy, and paste different sections of video. As the Machete website puts it, Video Editor Lite was “designed for quick and simple ‘slicing’ of your video files.”

The program’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to waste time shuffling through technical support documents. And because Video Editor Lite doesn’t re-encode your video files when you slice them, you don’t have to worry about losing video quality.

The main downsides to the program? It only supports the AVI and WMV video formats, and it doesn’t allow for audio editing. Still, if you have zero video editing experience and only need to make simple edits, it’s a great option.

14. Avidemux

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

Source: Softonic

Like Machete Video Editor Lite, Avidemux allows you to do basic video editing (no audio editing) without having to worry about loss of video quality. But Avidemux also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, the program supports multiple video formats, including AVI, DVD, MPEG, QuickTime, and MP4. What’s more, Avidemux comes with several filters that allow you to perform a host of different functions, from flipping and rotating clips, to adding subtitles, to adjusting colors and brightness levels.

And while the learning curve for Avidemux is slightly steeper compared to Machete Video Editor Lite, the upside is that there’s an extensive Avidemux wiki that covers everything you need to know.

15. HitFilm

$99 | Windows, Mac

Source: HitFilm

HitFilm Express is a free video editing and visual effects software — which means you can use it to add more than 180 special effects to your videos, including 3D editing.

Possibly the coolest HitFilm feature is its wealth of tutorial videos — users can practice applying special visual effects in movie tutorials based on Star Wars, Westworld , and more.

Of course, upgrading to HitFilm Pro grants access to more visual effects, better high resolution and 3D rendering, and better audio syncing between audio and video files. It costs $300 , but if you’re not ready to fully invest, HitFilm Express users can purchase lower-cost expansions to use more tools in their software.

To see the complete list of differences between HitFilm Free and Pro, check out their “Compare Versions” page.

Video Editing Apps for Android

These video editing apps are particularly appealing for Android mobile users, though some of them are compatible with more than just the Android operating system.

16. VideoShow

Free | Android, iOS

Source: Google Play

VideoShow allows you to edit video content in a number of creative ways beyond cutting and pasting scenes together. The award-winning app , which has more than 400 million users, allows you to include text overlays, stickers, music, filters, and sound effects to your footage. Because of these features, it lends itself to video producers who want to add a bit more creativity to a vlog series , where the video is primarily of one person speaking directly to the camera.

17. PowerDirector

Free | Android, Desktop

Source: CyberLink

This robust video editor has a suite of creative design tools just for Android and desktop users. Developed by CyberLink, the app can help you create 4K-quality videos from footage taken with numerous devices. Special features include motion tracking, which helps you focus on specific subjects in each frame; video collages, which help you piece together numerous photos into a motion video; and video stabilization, allowing you to remove moments of “shaky camera” in your footage. PowerDirector can also help you add voice overs and creative sound effects using  chroma key.

Many of PowerDirector’s features are completely free in  the  Android app . For a more advanced suite of editing tools, you can invest in one of  CyberLink’s paid products   starting at $99.

18. Quik

Free | Android, iOS, Desktop

Source: Google Play

Quik is a video editing tool developed by GoPro, making it the software of choice for people who are editing footage from their GoPro camera. But yes, it can edit content from any source. 

The app can manage up to 75 photos and video clips in one project, and can even comb through this content to help you make smart editing decisions based on what the app detects in the footage. From time lapses to panoramic pieces, Quik can manipulate your media in lots of creative ways. The app has more than 20 preset themes to choose from and supports eight common file types.

19. KineMaster

Free | iOS, Android

Source: Google Play

KineMaster is a super-versatile video editing tool that allows you to edit videos on “multiple layers.” What does that mean? Content creators can add an unlimited amount of text overlays, images, audio, and even free handwriting onto their footage for the artistic detail they or their brand needs. You can also blend multiple pieces of footage and use double-exposures  to customize the background in a load of creative ways.

For simpler editing tasks, of course, this app offers intuitive trimming and splitting features to make your video progress just the way you want it to.

20. VivaVideo

Free | iOS, Android

Source: Google Play

VivaVideo  makes professional-level edits easy for content creators. Free for all mobile devices, the app allows you to trim, merge, speed up, slow down, and reverse clips and images in a short amount of time. The app also comes with a simple collage- and slideshow-maker, and offers a variety of camera lenses to capture new, edit-ready footage directly in the app. 

Want to learn more about video editing? Check out the best editing apps for photos .

 

WHOA! That’s a mouthful! . Grab a heavy dumbbell, bag of rice or book and complete this circuit several times to work ALL those muscles listed plus some added cardio! . 1⃣ Squat and bicep curl 2⃣ Bowler lunge and row right 3⃣ Calf raise, overhead press and tricep extension 4⃣ Bowler lunge and row left 5⃣ Deadlift and back row . The key is to make your range of motion BIG. But as always, keep your chest lifted, abs in tight and knees behind toes. . Put in a good song and do it half tempo a few times and then tempo a few. The variety will definitely benefit both strength and cardio!!!💪🏼🏃🏻

A video posted by 🌸Melissa McAllister🌸 (@melissamade) on Aug 25, 2015 at 6:27pm PDT

Online video content isn’t just watched more — it’s expected more. Luckily, you have the video editing tools above to help you. And the sooner you download one, the sooner you can sharpen your audio/video skills.

Grab the guide below to make the video learning curve easier.

 

The Non-Programmer’s Guide to Using APIS

Even if you don’t know what an API is, you’ve undoubtedly interacted with one.

Today, we take connectivity between technology largely for granted. For instance, we don’t question when we use OpenTable to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant.

Alternatively, if you use Kayak.com to book flights, you’ve probably never wondered, Wait a minute … how does Kayak know JetBlue has an open seat in 27A?

Ultimately, any time you need applications to communicate with one another, you need an API, or application programming interface.

Here, we’re going to explore what an API is, and why you’d need to use one. Even if you’re not a programmer and don’t need to know extensive technical jargon, you should still understand the basics, since nowadays, integrations between technology are often critical components of anyone’s job.

What is an API?

At its most basic definition, an API lets one piece of software talk to another piece of software.

To understand an API in action, let’s consider a real-life example — HubSpot’s integration with Typeform . Typeform, a tool that supplies mobile-ready quizzes, contact forms, and signup forms, needs to integrate with HubSpot’s Forms API to to interact with the forms tool and seamlessly send submissions from Typeform forms into the HubSpot CRM.

To do this, Typeform’s API and HubSpot’s API need to talk. An integration can act as a translator, ensuring each API’s information is correctly translated for the other application — in this case, the integration may ensure that Typeform form fields are correctly mapped to the corresponding HubSpot fields.

Isaac Takushi, a HubSpot Developer Support Specialist, explains — “You can think of APIs and the ‘endpoints’ they comprise as access points for different information. Each API endpoint may only have one specific job. When combined, however, different endpoints can support powerful, multifaceted integrations.”

Kayak.com, for instance, needs some API to communicate with JetBlue’s systems. When you search “Boston to Charlotte” in Kayak, JetBlue’s booking API will essentially receive this request from Kayak, pull up information related to that request, and send it back. However, Kayak will need its own API or code to understand and act on the information the JetBlue API returned.

To use an API, you’ll want to check out the API’s documentation for access requirements. For instance, HubSpot’s Contacts API requires authentication :

Similarly, you’ll need an API key to access Google’s API , Facebook’s API , and Twitter’s API .

Once you have access requirements, you can use a tool like Postman or Runscope to manually interact with an API. These third-party tools, or “REST clients,” allow you to make one-off requests to API endpoints without coding. They’re great for getting a feel for what your backend systems may do automatically. Check out this resource on how to make your very first API request with Postman.

If you’re not quite ready to jump in on the deep end with a REST client, try punching the following into your browser:

https://restcountries.eu/rest/v2/name/united

This is a public API endpoint from the free REST Countries service. Specifically, we’re using the “Name” endpoint, which accepts country names as search queries. A successful search will return potential country matches, along with key information about each nation. In this case, we’re searching for countries with names that contain the word “united.”

You should see following block of JSON data returned:

Congratulations! You just made an API request from your browser!

The endpoint returned raw data (formatted in JSON) on countries with “united” in the name.

It may not look pretty, but remember that APIs are designed for applications, which don’t require the styling humans expect on an HTML web page. While you can easily Google “countries that begin with ‘united’,” applications cannot. They might have to rely on services like REST Countries to look up that information.

If you’re unsure whether you should use your in-house developers to create APIs or look externally, check out First vs. Third-Party APIs: What You Need to Know .

ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), Explained in Less Than 500 Words

With over 7,000 MarTech companies battling each other to win a spot in the technology stack of businesses today, sticking out from the crowd has never been more difficult. Almost every industry under the MarTech umbrella is saturated, so traditional inbound marketing can only turn so many heads.

Fortunately, computer hardware, operating systems, and cloud platforms have decided to help their smaller tech counterparts out. In recent years, these platforms have built marketplaces where MarTech companies can offer their software solutions to the platforms’ unique customers, which has increased a lot of MarTech companies’ visibility and, in turn, their revenue.

These MarTech companies who partner with computer hardware providers, operating systems, and cloud platforms to resell their software solutions on their marketplaces are called independent software vendors. Read on to learn exactly what an ISV is, what it means to be ISV certified, and what an ISV partner is.

For instance, any company that offers their software solution on a marketplace like HubSpot Connect or Salesforce AppExchange is an ISV.

For example, Microsoft, a company that develops computer hardware (Xbox), operating systems (Windows), and a cloud platform (Azure), offers silver and gold ISV certifications to independent software vendors whose products can pass their rigorous quality tests and prove they can offer the top software solutions to Microsoft’s customers on each of their marketplaces.

For instance, if you want to get into Dell’s or Red Hat’s ISV partner program , you just need to verify your organization, apply to the program, get accepted, agree to their terms and conditions, and stay in good standing with the platform to maintain your membership.