This Week on Cinematic Slant

Girls Trip got a fun, sexually-empowered campaign about a group of friends having in fun in New Orleans. Dunkirk’s campaign, by contrast, was super-serious and steeped in history. The marketing of Landline was fun but sad as it sold a story of a family’s disillusionment. Finally, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ marketing made the case for an original, imaginative sci-fi adventure.

I also took a twopart look back at the last 10 years of movie marketing winners and losers at San Diego Comic-Con. And both Nolan and I reviewed War For The Planet Of The Apes, notably through the lens of having just watched the previous two installments.

How the Needs of the Industry Have Changed Over the Years

(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)

I’ve been doing content marketing for over 10 years, in some form. As I’ve said on a number of “get to know you” phone calls, that’s changed a lot over the years. It used to be about blogs, RSS and wikis. Then social networks started popping up and we needed to incorporate them. Then those social networks started adding photos, then videos and so on. So the platforms that have hosted the end result of the strategy I and my colleagues would develop certainly changed over time.

The skills and mindset necessary to do the job, both on a strategic and tactical level, also changed over time. Here are a few examples of how.

Visual Thinking

When I started out, it was mostly about text. Blogs offered writers a great outlet for their skills and if you were a decent writer you could get noticed in the early days. Eventually Flickr caught on with photographers and YouTube with video producers, but before mobile prevalence adding media to either was clunky, at best, and had to be done after the fact for the most part.

Eventually, though, the rise of Instagram along with more multimedia adoption by Twitter and Facebook along with YouTube’s mobile functionality meant text wasn’t enough anymore. People clearly responded more to photos, videos and eventually GIFs and that had to become part of the thinking that went into all content creation. That became even more important as Snapchat and other messaging apps that were built almost solely around media rose to mass adoption status. It wasn’t just about the update, it was about what graphic would accompany that update.

Get Over Content Permanence

Blogs and social networks promised you the ability to build up a whole history online. You could look back days, weeks, months and years to see what you’d posted and take it all as a portfolio with you wherever you went. We trained an entire group of young people to be careful what they posted online because it was going to follow them their entire lives. There were massive debates over whether to delete posts and how to mark edited posts to draw attention to the most relevant updates.

Again, tools like Snapchat have upended what used to be the law of the land. Now these shots you’re spending hours planning and setting up are gone in a heartbeat, as soon as they’re consumed. There’s no archive to go back to. The rules and best practices around creation might be the same, but there’s no record of it after it’s sent out to the audience. It’s lost, like teardrops in the rain…

Dig Deep Into the Audience

Let’s be clear, there was never really a time when knowing nothing about the target audience was acceptable. But now the extensive nature of the metrics and insights that are available either natively on social platforms or through third-party tools means there’s no excuse to not know a lot about who it is that’s connected with you on those networks and who’s interacting with the content being published.

That’s exactly what clients expect. “I’m not sure” is a terrible answer because the numbers are right there. It means things can be planned better and content more targeted for maximum appeal. It also means you’re that much further on the hook if things don’t turn out fantastically. It’s now table stakes for anyone at any level of a content marketing program to be able to navigate Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and other tools to extract audience data.

Pay Up to Achieve Reach

Remember the halcyon days of the social web, when all you needed to succeed was good content that was search-optimized? I know I do. But those days are long gone. Search is no longer the primary way people find what they’re watching or viewing, replaced by social networks. And those networks are increasingly putting restrictor plates in the form of feed algorithms in place to decide what is “important” for people to see based on mysterious factors.

As part of that, the promise has been that if you want to escape the shackles of the restricted feed all you have to do as a publisher is open your wallet. If you don’t, you’re saying you’re happy with reaching 1-2% of the audience you spent years building up on Facebook or elsewhere, versus the 8-10% that could be yours for a few sponsorship dollars. Again, content marketing pros at all levels now need to be well versed in the paid promotion options offered by social networks so they can make appropriate recommendations to their clients.

Do you have any further thoughts? What do you think has changed the most in your job over the last few years?

6 Tips For Clearing Your Head

I’m notorious for gripping the bat too tight when it comes to work things. I’ll sit here and turn a problem over and over in my head. I won’t allow myself to turn away until I crack the issue. I’ll get so deep into something that I can no longer see the forest for the trees or really see anything else. The creativity just won’t flow. Everything outside of that problem is a distraction, nothing is turning out right and the frustration levels are pretty damn high.

Over the years I’ve developed a few tactics for getting out of my own head on a specific issue and trying to get some perspective on things. That kind of perspective is essential and has often led to one of a few outcomes: 1) I have a breakthrough and finally arrive upon an approach that will deal with what needs dealing with or 2) I finally let go of my pride and ask for help, calling in reinforcements to provide the kind of outside thinking that’s sometimes necessary. Here are some of the ways I try to break out of a funk that’s too often of my own making.

Writing Something Else

Here’s a little truism about writers: We don’t always have fresh and interesting perspectives on every topic under the sun on-demand. Often I’m asked to weigh in on a topic that I want to opine on but am unsure what I want to say. Or I’m working on a client project and the angle just isn’t coming to me, no matter how many ways I turn things over in my mind. The best thing I’ve done in situations like this is to write about something else. Anything else. Movies, music, a personal journal…whatever. Just get words flowing in some manner on another topic, find the groove and let it play itself out. It’s often in the middle of this kind of distraction that I have an “Oh…that’s the key” moment, but I’ll write that down somewhere on the side and then come back to it when I’ve finished whatever it is I’ve started.

Take a Walk

I work at a standing desk arrangement so it’s not as if I’m sitting hunched over the computer all day to begin with. Still, sometimes the best remedy for loosening my grip is to stretch my legs a bit and go get some fresh air. I’ll have my phone with me, of course, but usually I don’t bring any headphones so I’m not listening to music or podcasts or anything while I’m doing so. Instead I’m more in the moment outdoors, taking in the sounds of the cars going by, the train passing a block over, someone cutting their grass, the squirrel running in the tree above me and more. This sort of giving myself over to the real world is essential sometimes and I’ll come back at least feeling like I’ve given myself a break from staring at the monitor and have used not only some different physical muscles but opened up some fresh neural pathways as well.

Do Some Physical Labor

Similarly, doing something that’s not writing has proven to be a valuable distraction. Maybe I’ll go pull some weeds or clean something dirty or move things around in the garage. This is more about redirecting my mind not on something that’s just a distraction but actually solving a new problem. Again, that sort of change will help loosen things up a bit and take my mind off the work-related issue, pushing it to my subconscious, which is often better at arriving at solutions than the conscious mind.

Read a Book

Sometimes the best solution is not an active alternative but a passive one. Reading a book means you’re sitting back and letting someone else take you on a journey, not actively foraging ahead on your own. That’s a much different experience than most of what I’ve already discussed. When I read I let myself be transported to that other world (especially with fiction) and being more passive about my distraction. Note that I don’t lump “watching a movie” in with this since for me, especially if I’m on my own, it’s hard not to pick up my phone or laptop when I’m watching a movie at home. I’ll eventually be fidgeting and looking to check Twitter or keep up on RSS or something. If I’m reading, I’m just reading. I can’t be poking around on Facebook *and* reading. It’s a much fuller distraction.

Turn On Different Music

When I’m working I’m usually listening to either music or podcasts. But sometimes what I’ve selected just isn’t working, it’s not conducive to giving myself over to the flow and it’s helping get any ideas started. So I’ll switch over from podcasts to music or vice versa. Or I’ll realize this album I’m listening to isn’t working and try something else. Just like Baby in Baby Driver had that one killer track that was his go-to when he needed to up the adrenaline and make the magic happen I have a few reliable options that will get me pumped up, which usually accompanies a spike in creativity. They act like the needle Vincent Vega jabs in Mia Wallace’s chest in Pulp Fiction and jumpstarts things.

Be Annoying On The Internet

This is going to sound a bit juvenile, but being kind of annoying has also helped me break out of a funk more than a few times. Sometimes I’ll go on Twitter and let loose with a tirade on one topic or another or just crack a few jokes I’ve been wordsmithing for a while. Or lately I might go on Slack and join a few conversations. Whatever the outlet, this has occasionally freed up some space in my mind and all of a sudden I come back to the project I’m working on and can come up with the fun, creative idea that I’ve been grasping for.

How about you? Are there tactics you’ve developed to make sure you can get things going when you feel like the creativity or insights just aren’t there? Share in the comments below.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Study: People Don’t Remember Who’s Sharing News On Social Networks

A new study is out from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford showing news readers who rely on social media for updates don’t remember the media outlet that shared that news. That’s bad news for media, especially as Facebook and other platforms consistently seek new ways to host the news themselves and act as the media’s native publishing platform, not just a distribution tool. Facebook wants to sell subscriptions, let Pages create special super-fan groups and more.

I’ve been beating the drum for a while now that the biggest danger to media companies presented by social media is that it’s disconnecting readers/viewers from the brands that are actually producing the news. “I saw a story on Facebook…” is how everyone prefaces their stories, not “I saw a story The Washington Post shared on Facebook…” Eventually – and the numbers in that story certainly point in this direction – those brands become completely irrelevant. This is part of why “fake news” has become such a problem in recent years, because there’s no discernment between outlets when it all comes through the same filter.

Everything Facebook in particular has rolled out in recent years has moved toward that end. They want to be a media publisher but want to sidestep the accompanying accountability because someone else is actually creating the stories. They’ve sold publishers on Instant Articles, native videos and other features, dangling the ad revenue it knows no one can turn down as well as other monetary incentives for first movers that are pulled away as soon as some level of critical mass is reached.

Media companies have always survived and thrived based on their brand awareness and reputation. Here in Chicago I grew up knowing the Tribune was staunchly conservative as it tried to reach a national audience while the Sun-Times was more liberal, more focused on Chicago area readers and always backing up the Democratic Machine. Things may have shifted a bit over the years, but the point is that these outlets were well known and you could select which kind of news coverage you wanted. It wasn’t all thrown together into a blender where the brands become irrelevant.

There’s no quick fix to right the ship of media outlets that have become dependent on the (ever-decreasing) traffic Facebook sends them organically or on the trickle of shared ad revenue Instant Articles promises them. At least they’ve owned their subscription database, but now Facebook wants access to that as well.

Reputations are built on brand awareness. Without that awareness and recognition, which now seems to be fading quickly, media companies will have precious little to look forward to.

Defining Core Versus Premium Content

Last week when I was taking issue with a point of view around focusing on “campaign” content at the expense of a steady content marketing cadence I used a couple terms: “Core content” and “premium content.” I offered brief explanations in that post but wanted to take the chance to offer some more in-depth definitions of what I meant with those labels.

Core Content

Core content is the meat and potatoes of any content marketing program. It may not be flashy, but it’s the foundation the program is built on. Without it, for a variety of reasons, the entire construct will come crashing down.

What’s the Cadence

Ideally, core content is being published multiple times most every day of the week. There are countless examples of best practices from various companies that say you should post on Twitter no more than X times per day, on Facebook no more than X times per week and so on as well as which time periods are best. What I’ve found over the years is that while those are fine guideposts, the best results come from digging into the metrics and adjusting your own program accordingly. If you find you get more engagement when you post twice per day on Facebook, post twice per day, assuming you have the content to support that. Don’t be beholden to general tips at the expense of your own program’s success.

Where is It Coming From

Hopefully the legwork regarding content sources has been done long before you’re having a conversation about post cadence. A full content audit of an organization will uncover what kinds of news is being shared internally (e.g. is someone putting together a recap of relevant news for their department that you can tap into), what the usual schedule of product announcements and other news is, whether you can curate news from outside sources and more. Whether it’s internally- or externally-sourced, all of it should – or at least can – feed into the content program. The determination can then be made as to when and where to share that news based on timeliness, which audiences are most likely to be interested in the story and how similar stories have fared on various platforms.

What Are the Benefits

Here’s where it’s important to remember that not all social networks are created equal. This isn’t like RSS or email, where content lands in an aggregator and is viewed by the recipient at a time of their choosing, regardless of when it was delivered. Social networks move fast and quickly disappear posts. On Twitter updates are lost to the stream, on Facebook and Instagram they have to fight their way through the algorithm and could appear hours or even days after they’re published. So an approach that includes multiple posts throughout the day provides more opportunities to reach someone at the time they’re paying attention to their social networks. Regular posting also creates more touchpoints for people to latch onto. That post from two hours ago may not have been interesting to them, but this one they just saw now is and so they’ll RT it.

Not only is relevance and engagement a major benefit of an approach that includes core content but so is audience acquisition. All those touchpoints that give people new chances to RT and amplify your message also mean they’re exposing your messaging to their own network. That means you’re reaching a new audience and potentially making some of them your own. If you’re not publishing regularly, you’re not taking advantage of organic audience acquisition.

How Is Success Reported

The metrics pulled here should be evident: Engagement, click-throughs, network growth are all basic numbers that are based just on the social aspect of the program. Digging in a little deeper, though, numbers can be reported on site visits, lead conversions and more that speak more directly to business goals like sales, leads and more. Here’s another benefit of a daily, regular, organic publishing cadence: Reaching people with specific and actionable messages that go beyond “news” and include sales, signups and lots more.

Premium Content

By way of contrast, premium content is bigger in scale. These are the big pops of more substantially content that’s been planned for a longer period of time and is generally tied to something that’s larger scale than the news that trickles out of a company regularly.

What’s the Cadence

This is largely going to depend. I’ve seen programs that have launched a premium content execution every quarter and others that save their powder for a once-a-year major event. The key point here is that everyone involved is in agreement that some upcoming moment – an industry conference, the release of a major new study, a new product announcement – is worth pulling out all the stops for.

Where is It Coming From

Most likely these moments are being sourced internally. Again, they’re going to come from Marketing, which lets you know a big campaign is coming up, or Product, which lets you know a new item is being made available or something along those lines. This is why it’s so important, when you’re setting up a program and aligning stakeholders around goals, for that conversation to involve representatives from as many different departments as possible.

What Are the Benefits

These are the moments that only have the potential to become big because of the daily work that’s been done on the core content program. It’s largely through those efforts that you have the audience that will now turn its eyeballs to these bigger moments. There are the same potential benefits – sales, conversions, engagement, time-on-site etc – but you won’t achieve any of them if the audience isn’t there. Conversely, these big pops can support the core program as more people become attached to the brand’s profile and so on. The best premium content moments, I’ve found, come along with traditional press outreach efforts that can result in industry or general coverage, increasing the benefits for the program.

How Is Success Reported

Success can be found in many of the same numbers as for core content, though there may be specific metrics you’ll want to track and report on that are dependent on what form this premium execution has taken. So if it’s a whitepaper, you’ll want to track downloads. If it’s a VR experience you’ll be tracking views. If it’s an interactive timeline you’ll be tracking site stickiness and specific engagement points. Again, though, these metrics should be agreed upon by everyone involved before launch so everyone knows what success will look like.

Conclusion

In most everything I’ve laid out here I’m assuming the program being run is primarily focused on organic – meaning non-paid – content. Many advocates of the campaign-centric mindset rely on paid promotion of social posts to boost the reach of the program. In my experience paying for bigger moments is fine and certainly recommended. But if you’re relying on it to achieve any sort of substantial audience reach or engagement it’s because you’re making up for not doing the hard work that’s involved in running an organic content program with a regular publishing cadence.

There are some who eschew the “core” and “premium” labels in favor of something like “Hero, hub and hygiene” but I’ve found the definitions don’t quite match up and are indicative of a different approach. Not worse, but different and not quite analogous to what I’ve laid out here. That’s a post for a different time.

Why The First Thing I Write In the Morning Is So Important

I’ve never been much for exercise. I tend to get winded quickly and easily when running and enjoy a good walk much more. My few attempts at series “get in shape” exercise have been frustrating as I realize after a period of time that maybe I’m just destined to be the kind of doughy guy you’d see being harassed by a gang of hooligans in a 1950s B-movie. Let’s just lean into that. I know enough about exercise, though, to know that warming up is a good idea. Do some stretching before you run and all that.

While I may not be a great example of discipline when it comes to physical exercise, I do a lot of writing, which should be obvious. What I’ve found over the years, particularly since entering the freelance market full-time, is that warm-ups are no less essential in this field.

At any given time I have a handful of things I *need* to write. That might be a movie marketing recap for Cinematic Slant, it might be a project for a freelance client or something else. Those things need to be done and there are deadlines associated with them. So it might make sense that they’d be the first things I tackled when I started the day or otherwise got in front of the computer.

For a while I did just that. I’d pull up the project or post I needed to work on and stare at it. Whatever inspiration I needed just wasn’t there, though. I’d pick at it for a while but only really made any progress after a substantial period of writing, deleting, reconsidering, clicking over to YouTube to watch Talladega Nights clips and other distractions.

Eventually I found inspiration for a new approach to productivity from an unlikely source: Comic book artists.

When I was working with DC Comics on their content marketing program I started following a number of comics writers and artists on Twitter from my own account. These were people I was a fan of myself so wanted to see what they were up to beyond the immediate client-based need to find opportunities to RT them or at least see what they were working on. What I noticed eventually was that many of these artists would post pictures of “warm up drawings” they did before they started in on their actual work. These were usually sketches of other characters they weren’t working on, sometimes tied to something happening in the entertainment industry. So they might sketch a Xenomorph when a new Alien movie was coming out. Or the other day a few did portraits of the newly-announced 13th Doctor. Sometimes they add color to their drawings, sometimes they’re just rough pencil sketches.

I realized that this was their own version of stretching before exercise. They were loosening up their hand, they were clearing the cobwebs out of their head, they were focusing on a task that didn’t carry the pressure of deadlines but was just for fun. It was about getting the muscles they’d need to do their job ready for what was ahead.

That’s why I recently gave myself permission to goof around a little when I’m first settling into the writing environment. I’ll write something that is just for me. It may wind up getting published or it might just sit in Google Docs or Evernote in perpetuity and never see the light of day. If I can pound up 300 or 500 words or whatever the muse is allowing me at any given moment, then I’ve straightened out my own mind. I’ve gotten my fingers warmed up and established the neural connections I’ll need later in the day to approach the project that’s important with a fresher mind.

What I’ve found is that my creativity and skills are much clearer and sharper after doing this. I’m able to approach a problem from a fresh perspective and get to the crux of the issue quicker. I’m able to tackle that client blog post with a better approach because it’s not the first thing I’m forcing myself to do. I’ve warmed up the engine a bit and now we’re ready to go.

Warm ups, in short, aren’t just for physical exercise. I’m not sure there’s an equivalent for someone in accounting or other fields. But for myself as someone who relies on my ability to communicate creative ideas in fresh, interesting and compelling ways, that time spent stretching the muscles important to my job have become an essential part of my day.

How Did I React When I Suffered An Injustice

(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)

The world isn’t always fair, right? That’s the message we learn as we get older and find that everyone’s actions don’t always revolve around us and aren’t geared solely toward providing for our own happiness. As parents, we try and teach our kids that someone else’s success is not a slight on you, necessarily, it’s just because they did something that helped them get ahead. Hopefully, we’re able to couple that with lessons about what they can do differently next time that will help them secure the same advantage or promotions.

So how do you handle an instance where you feel – rightly or wrongly – you’ve been slighted? More specifically, how have I handled times in my professional life where feel I’ve suffered a real or perceived injustice? There are usually stages to my emotions:

Disappointment: Let’s just be honest and admit that the first thing I (and I’m guessing many other people) feel when I perceive I’ve been wronged is that I’m bummed. That recognition or whatever it is should have been mine and I’m disappointed it went to someone else. Or I’m upset because something went wrong that I’m being held responsible for when it wasn’t my fault.

The best remedy for this, at least for me, is one of two things: Either go for a walk and clear my head or dig into writing something, which has roughly the same effect.

Acceptance: OK, so I didn’t get the promotion I was hoping for or the job I wanted. But I still have (fill in the blank) so am still doing alright. This mindset is the direct result of the above described actions, the perspective coming from getting outside my own head for a bit and realizing that this wasn’t a personal slight against me but instead the result of someone else’s efforts. Just as I would tell my kids, the world isn’t against me, it’s just not opening this particular door for one or more reasons.

Planning: Fine, I didn’t get X but someone else did. I no longer see this as a direct affront to myself and my skills but as a recognition of someone else’s hard work. So now my mind turns to figuring out how they were able to get that recognition and what I can do to replicate it for myself. Even if it’s not related to that directly, what areas can I grow in? What can I do differently? How can I further attempt to differentiate myself?

Basically I’m looking at this point for things I can do differently, opportunities to shake my own routine up a bit. These aren’t moments to wallow, they’re moments to grow. Some great stuff in my career has come out of times where I feel I’ve been passed over for recognition or had my hand-slapped for something I felt was undeserved. As Tom Sr. says in Tommy Boy, if you’re not growing, you’re dying and there’s nothing quite as motivating as the desire to be the next one who’s recognized in a positive way.

This Week on Cinematic Slant

Both Nolan and myself reviewed Spider-Man: Homecoming, which we both liked very various reasons.

I reviewed the marketing campaigns for Lady Macbeth and War For The Planet Of The Apes and flashed back 25 years to the campaign for Cool World and 75 years to the campaign for The Magnificent Ambersons.

On the newsier front, here’s what studios are bringing upcoming movies to San Diego Comic-Con and I’m surprised Quentin Tarantino wants to be constrained by telling a true-life story.

Marketing Endings When Nothing Really Ends

war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-hed-2017

My latest post at Adweek is about the marketing of The War For The Planet Of The Apes and Hollywood’s rule about how nothing can ever really end:

There’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood—or it may actually be written down, considering how pervasive it is—that nothing can ever end. Franchises built on existing intellectual property, whether adapted from previous media or sprung wholly on film, are the key to success, according to the big movie studios.

Not only can the marketing never tell the audience this is the last time they’ll see these characters (they may not feel it’s worth the effort), but you have to actively take the opposite approach and make every movie a small part of a bigger picture. It’s an approach perfected by Marvel Studios, and since used in the campaigns for The Mummy, King Arthur and other movies, though those efforts have largely failed to launch.

Source: How Hollywood Markets Final Chapters in a World Where Nothing Can Ever End – Adweek

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Event Hashtags

This time next week San Diego Comic-Con will be in full swing, opening to the public after Wednesday’s Preview Night events. I’ve written before about how I attended five years’ worth of SDCCs, from 2011 to 2015, on behalf of Voce client DC Entertainment.

The first year I did so I had to swallow a pretty big pill. Namely, I had to accept the fact that I was going to use a hashtag for the posts that made up that coverage.

My attitude toward hashtags was, for a good long while, pretty antagonistic. I didn’t like them, felt they were being used poorly by people to intrude on other conversations with inappropriate material and were just ugly in how they cluttered up the feed, particularly on Twitter. Over the years I’ve slowly come to a level of neutral acceptance toward them. I still don’t like the form factor involved. While hashtags are pretty popular on Twitter and Instagram, they’re dead-on-arrival on Facebook and LinkedIn, with almost no one using them.

I get, though, that they do form some sort of taxonomy for the social web. Back in the day we used to have tags that were added to blog posts (we still do, of course) and that you could search Technorati for. Now we have Twitter Search as well as other enterprise-level tools like Union Metrics, SimplyMeasured and others that will tell you how many times that hashtag has been used, what the impressions for Tweets including the hashtag were and more important numbers.

That’s largely what prompted me to reconsider my position and embrace the hashtag: Metrics.

One of the goals of most event coverage by a brand – including media companies – is to focus fan/attendee conversation in a way that most directly benefits the brand. The best way, I’ll argue, to do that in a disintermediated media world is through the use of hashtags that are unique to both the event and the brand.

Let’s the event in question is Big Time Convention. The event organizers might encourage people to use #BigTimeCon17. That’s great and any brand participating in and updating from the event should definitely use that. But when the social media team gets home at the end of the week they’re going to be asked to report on how many people were specifically talking about their news.

That’s where something new needs to come into usage. If AB Company is publishing from the event and wants people to be talking about their news announcements, it could encourage people to use #ABBigTime17. So a Tweet from AB might look like this:

We just announced our new Gizmo 7000 and people are anxious to hear more about it! See pics from our #BigTimeCon17 event. #ABBigTime17

That update not only respects the wishes of the organizer but also helps focus the conversation around the company and its news specifically.

By choosing and using an event-specific hashtag, reporting can be done after the fact. As I stated earlier, metrics tools will let you pull the number of people who used that hashtag, how many impressions all those tweets accumulated and more, all of which can (hopefully) be used to prove how your recommended strategy and tactics were successful. And as I did so repeatedly for multiple clients, I was able to build Storify collections recapping not only my own updates from an event but also including those from fans in attendance.

While I still think hashtags are ugly and that the overall user experience involving them could be vastly improved, I’ve come to understand and accept they have some utilitarian value. I’ve even begun (gulp) using them for my own purposes to make my Tweets more discoverable to anyone searching for popular industry-specific topics like #contentmarketing and more.

I realize that, to some extent, my push-back on them was the result of being a big stick in the mud. They were, after all, not that different from the tags used on blogs that help expose them to search results more efficiently. It’s just that, unlike on blogs, social media has no native taxonomy associated with it. So this tacked-on tool has always struck me as a bit wonky.

Despite that, I see the utility, especially when it comes to organizing people around something big. They may still be ugly, but they work.