Team Gonzos’ Lessons Learned

Team Gonzo had a number of learnings over the course of our Digital Marketing Competition over the past month:

Content Creation

We were proud of our content and felt we developed solid digital marketing and social media posts. Our titles could have been more enticing, we could have formatted content more effectively with more use of images and white space, and we could have given ourselves more time for content development and promotion.


With the varied content on the blog, we felt it was challenging to determine the right audience for promotion of our posts and didn’t post as broadly as we could have. Part of this was due to discomfort using our own personal brands and social channels to promote content we didn’t have complete control over. Among other issues, we had technical issues creating the links, didn’t utilize best practices in timing of posting and promoting.

Google Analytics

It look us most of the length of the competition to figure out how to use Google Analytics. It was helpful to look at past posts to determine patterns for success and explore what our competitors were up to. With more time, we could have learned to better track our views, identify patterns in differences between channels, and apply our additional learnings.


Strategy and Lessons Learned – Team Turbo

Our Strategy

Develop interesting content to engage the reader.  Our posts were designed to be topical and catchy.  Our themes ranged from politics, technology, millennials, dieting, pets, social media and Lebron James while finding ways to relate the content to marketing

We targeted a wide variety of readers and aimed to keep them engaged with quality content once they hit our page.  More importantly, we wanted to establish credibility with our audience to develop a relationship that would encourage them to come back for more

We used a variety of platforms to promote our posts

Since we designed our content for mass appeal, we used an assortment of websites and social media platforms to reach a large audience.  Our goal was to cast a large net, learn from our successes and failures, then apply this knowledge to our latest post.

How our strategy evolved

Target a specific audience

Our content and our promotional efforts evolved by becoming more specialized and focused.  We learned that writing content for a smaller segment would yield better results and allow us to target our promotional efforts more effectively.

Plan ahead

We made the mistake of writing content without having an established channel in place to reach our audience.  Knowing the specific method we planned to use to reach our audience enabled us to write content directly catered to our readers and the platform.

Key takeaways
    1. Do your research
    2. Know your audience
    3. Know your platform
    4. Gather metrics
    5. Performance analysis

The brief description of our posts


5 ways to use social media like a pro

The idea behind this first post was to create something that would satisfy the Listicle requirement and at the same time provide us an opportunity to learn more about social media marketing.  We wanted to create content that was beneficial to the reader as well as for us.  We applied what we learned from this listicle to our marketing campaign

Review Items:
Stop doing: hard to promote content 
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: good content 

5 reasons the Lakers should not have signed Lebron 

For this post, we picked Lebron James because of his popularity and knew that most sports fans either love him or hate him.  We wanted to grab potential reader’s attention with our title, but then tie it back to marketing with the content.

Review Items:
Stop doing: poor content
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: interesting content 

Product Review

The future of Apple products is clear

We chose earbuds primarily due to their popularity.  By now, pretty much everyone in our target audience would have seen or heard about these snazzy little devices but may not have taken the time to read up on them.  We wanted to give an honest, first-hand review that cut out the bs and was straight to the point.

Review Items:
Stop doing: better team collaboration
Start doing:  better promotion, more interesting content 
Continue Doing: interesting content 

Original Video 

When it comes to marketing pet products, should we focus on the owner or the pet?

In this furry post, we wanted to show our audience the power of pet persuasion.  We followed Edson and his pup Mia on their journey to the pet store.  We loved this local company’s marketing strategy for getting customers (2 legged and 4 legged) in the door and wanted to share.

Review Items:
Stop doing: better team collaboration
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: interesting content 


Love him or Hate him – Donald Trump is a marketing magician

Donald Trump is in the news no matter where you look.  We wanted to piggy-back on his popularity while exploring his marketing genius.  This post dives into how Trump used various marketing techniques to get elected as President of the United States.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, you must give him credit for his success.

Review Items:
Stop doing: nothing
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: interesting content 

Millennials are killing the value of college degrees

This post was aimed at drawing attention to the college debt issue and the growing need for skilled workers.

Review Items:
Stop doing: nothing 
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: interesting content 

Click Bait 

weight-loss using your marketing knowledge

Who doesn’t want to learn more about the latest fad diet?  Oh wait, that’s not what this post is about?  This post is intended to simplify the weight loss strategy and give the reader key insights leading a more healthy.

Review Items:
Stop doing: but poor content, post kept being flagged as spam
Start doing:  better promotion
Continue Doing: reddit promotion  

The 5 Cs of Personal Branding: The Most Important Story is Your Own

If you’re like me, you’re far more comfortable talking about others’ success than your own. You’re focused on marketing your company, understanding the benefits your products offer, tailoring your messages perfectly to the right audience, and delivering them through the right channels.

But, there is an important element to your work that you may not be considering: your own personal brand. Taking time to curate your reputation as a marketer can yield returns in the form of career prospects, effectiveness, and influence in your field.

I attended the Digital Marketing Summit in Portland recently (which, side note, also included a hilarious keynote from Chelsea Handler), where I heard Monique Hayward, Intel marketing maven, speak about using your storytelling skills to build your brand. Here’s my recap of Monique’s 5 Cs of personal branding:

    1. Competence: Clearly, a foundation of competence is key. To build your reputation you must be authentically skilled at your craft. Master the principles of marketing and sustain an intellectual curiosity to keep learning as much as possible.
    2. Cachet: Your skill and competence will drive your cachet; as you build your brand, others will come to trust your expertise. Your personal brand is the currency you trade for influence, and you must carefully and intentionally build and cultivate it.
    3. Coaching: Seek out and learn from mentors and coaches, both inside and outside of your field. Collaborating with others is a great way to learn and build your network. Identify leaders you admire, reach out to them and create a relationship.
    4. Connections: Work your network. Create authentic connections to build your cachet and advance your reputation. Make strategic connections and ensure you’re visible in circles where it matters.  
    5. Communication: Flex your storytelling muscle to tell your own. Identify what differentiates you and makes you unique. Think about what you have to say, who cares about what you have to say, and why it matters that you’re the one who’s saying it. From this, create your 60-second elevator pitch and practice it. Use personal and professional conversations and social media to share your story and build your brand. 

Thanks to Monique for sharing her presentation with me for this post!

— Jessica Bowersox

For further reading:

Digital Marketing: Lessons Learned by Team Saga

3 Big Takeaways


Social media and digital marketing takes a lot of time and planning to be successful.


Know what your goals and objectives are, and what the value is for your audience


Match your promotional techniques to what your are providing

Our Strategy:

  • Get it done
  • Stay on-topic for the overall blog
  • Insert humor into every post
  • Produce largely unique content
  • Promote however we feel comfortable


Our Blog Posts:

The User Experience – 6 Tips to connect! (Listicle)

One weird trick to picking a smart phone…(Product Review)

How to Reach People to Grow Your Business (Original Video)

He Was Raised by a Family of Wolves- READ MORE! (Click Bait)

Op-Ed: GIF vs. GIF – How do you pronounce it? (Op-Ed)

Lessons to Take to the Real World

  • Make a clear plan and schedule – stick to it!
  • Develop your format in advance (plug and play)
  • Develop clear objectives & meaningful outcomes
  • Define and target a specific audience that you can actually connect with


Lessons to Take to the Real World

  • Develop audiences on multiple platforms (This will take time)
  • Build trust and develop a true inbound channel
  • Know your goals & the value you are providing your audience


Lessons to Take to the Real World

  • Know what you are wanting people to do
  • Develop pathways and hooks to keep people on your website

Op-Ed: GIF vs. GIF – How do you pronounce it?

Op-Ed: GIF vs. GIF

How do you pronounce it?

From one of our first meetings, our team fell into the perennial debate of the “correct” way to pronounce GIF. In my 5+ years working online and with social media, I have watched as colleagues have hotly debated this acronym’s pronunciation in the real world.

Here to continue the debate is myself and one of my colleagues. We will each provide our quick case in support of the way we say GIF, and let you vote on who you agree with (or at least how you pronounce it).

GIF: pronounced GIF

Dating back to the 1980s GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and allows for short video like files of images to be looped on the internet – like this:

For years we were left to guess how to say this word that we all knew so well via our active use, we rarely had to say it out loud, but when we eventually did and were surprised to find that we did not all say it the same. Many people pronounced it with a hard “G” as in “Graphics” while some pronounced it with a soft “g” as in JIF peanut butter.

While the inventor of the GIF came out in 2013 saying:

“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

I say, “sorry sir, you waited too long.” While he may have birthed the GIF, he sent it out into the world with nothing, and the world took on the challenge of calling it something.

Acronyms stand for a series of words, and as the “G” stands for Graphics, it makes the most sense to pronounce it the same, just as you do in the word “gift.”

If you need an extended argument, here is a great article from Gizmodo: The Creator of the GIF says it’s Pronounced JIF. He is Wrong

GIF: pronounced JIF

Steve Wilhite, left, received a Webby Award from Tumblr's David Karp for his invention of the animated GIF format.

Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from none other than David Karp of Tumblr on May 21, 2013, Steve Wilhite accepted the Webby for his 1987 invention of the GIF while employed at Compuserve.  As required by the Webbys, his acceptance speech consisted of only five words and they were:

jif GIF

Over the years, Mr. Wilhite had pushed the soft “g” pronunciation through many interviews which were less publicized than his acceptance speech.  He did not wait until recent years to clarify the pronunciation; he had done so all along, and for those who like my colleague believe Mr. Wilhite gave up his right to establish the correct pronunciation of the GIF due to some ambiguous statute of limitations,  I would posit, “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”

gif not jif GIF

Finally, I would point out that Mr. Wilhite has said all along that, “Choosy programmers choose jif” referencing the 1977 ad campaign by popular American peanut butter company, Jif.  This reference clearly predates the invention of the GIF, and may in fact predate the internet itself.

I know for myself that I will be taking a respite from this heat and pouring myself a double of ice cold gin.

8 things we learned from writing digital marketing blogs

1. Social Media presence and experience







Prior to writing a blog online, it is important to have some experience with social media platforms. Each social media platform is leveraged in a different way (Reddit vs. Twitter vs. Facebook as examples). It is a good idea to have existing social media accounts and access to existing online social networks.  More importantly, ensure you understand how audiences on each platform might react to your content and promotional efforts. A Reddit user may be more likely to engage with a targeted and specific post curated for their interests while a Facebook friend may be more likely to engage on broader messages in support of the friend’s blog.

2. Social Media strategy is key






As you head down the exciting path of writing a blog, it is important to not only have a content strategy, but also have a promotional strategy. The content strategy should outline the types of topics to write about and the social media platforms on which to post. A promotional strategy should identify the intended audiences  and how you expect to reach them via the social platforms.

As you develop your plan for building a great social media marketing blog, be thoughtful about your posting cadence (posting twice a week is a good start) and your subsequent promotional strategy (promote heavily immediately after you post to ensure your fresh content is delivered on time).

Without an initial strategy that outlines the topics of interest, the frequency of the posts, the promotional campaigns, and the target audiences, you may find it challenging to get enough people reading, following, sharing, liking and talking about your posts.

3. Identify a topic







Invest the time to identify a topic that is not only interesting to write about but also provides a connection to an attentive audience.   While you may think you have a great idea for your blog, if there aren’t enough people interested in the content you may not get anyone to read it.

4. Understand various blog types and select one





Before writing a blog, it is important to understand the various blog types such as: Listicle, Click Bait, Op Ed, or a Product Review. Once the blog types and formats are understood, you should then select the appropriate format for the topic.  For example, you can write a product review on something of interest and relevance to you as the writer.  This will result in more honest and engaging content that can serve to connect with a targeted audience.  Another approach is to choose a topic that is of interest to the intended audience.  You may decide that a Click Bait post with nostalgic images or humorous content may be an easier way to promote to a broader audience as a means to drive traffic to your blog.

5. Writing a blog can be time consuming






Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to research, write, review and edit a blog before posting it.  To demonstrate this, consider a blog that includes original video content.  While videos can be an effective way to drive traffic and session duration, they are also very time consuming to produce.  Effective videos require frequent editing, re-shoots, voice over sessions, more editing and then copy overlay.  Finally, you put it all together, post it to your site and promote it to the masses.  While it can be fun, don’t underestimate the time commitment needed to pull it off!

6. Find audiences to drive traffic






With so many different channels available, deciding on the right platforms for promoting your message is an integral step in a successful campaign.  Email, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram and Tumbler are a just a few of the options available and all have may seem to have benefits.

You might think that email is a great channel for promotion because you have lots of friends and family interested in your content.  However, you may find that people often don’t read blogs in their email as frequently as they check their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.

The trick is finding the right social media platform and the right audience to post and promote your blog.

7. Leverage Google Analytics





Through Google Analytics, identify the key metrics that allow you to monitor your blog site’s performance and measure how well you are reaching the intended audience. Some examples of effective metrics include: number of sessions, bounce rate, average session and duration. Number of sessions measures the number of visitors to your site or campaign (i.e how effectively are you driving traffic).  Average session duration provides you with a measurement of how long on average people are viewing your blogs (i.e is your content interesting to the reader). Bounce rate represents the action of leaving the site immediately after clicking on a campaign (i.e is your content relevant to the visitor).  To measure how effectively your targeted audience is engaging with your blog, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible.

8. Adjust your approach if it doesn’t drive enough traffic





There are times when it seems like the topic is relevant to many audiences and the execution of the promotional strategy seems correct. However, something didn’t work. It could have been an issue with the blog title, the blog content, the target audience or the promotion. When this occurs, you have an opportunity to make adjustments to the blog, the social media platform and/or the promotional campaign to a more appropriate audience.  If you can learn from your missteps and quickly address any issues, you can develop into a more effective social media marketing blogger.

Good Luck!

SpaceX Op-Ed: The Man or the Method?

It seems as a week can’t pass without SpaceX hitting the media. They’ve not only been able to reinvigorate the concept of pedestrian space travel but also inspire the minds of younger generations to follow their dreams and careers to the stars. At first glance their mission statement seems pretty straight forward and then takes a most unique turn; people living on other planets.



Ambitious? Sure. Innovative? You bet. Necessary? Up for debate. What we do know is that space travel has been revived and is sexier than ever. But how? Numerous factors play into this; branding, content, relationships, media. What we want to focus on is the man behind the company and his social media presence.

The Man or the Method?

How do we know the in’s and out’s about what is happening with SpaceX? It could be the millions of followers they have on Instagram and Twitter in tandem with news coverage. But let’s take a closer look at their maverick CEO, Elon Musk. His followers more than double what SpaceX has. Yet NASA’s following blows them out of the water! But when you take a look at their Administrator Jim Bridenstine he maintains only mere thousands of followers.

Breaking down the numbers:

SpaceX Elon Musk NASA Jim Bridenstine
Instagram 3.5M 8.3M 33.9M 1.2K
Twitter 7.1M 22.2M 29.2M 10.5K

So what are we really watching in social media? Announcements for the next big thing or the next controversial post or sub-tweet from Elon Musk? Although NASA is the staple name there are many who don’t even realize they are continuing their journey to Mars efforts. Elon Musk’s accessibility is arguably one of the most appealing parts of following this SpaceX mania. His interviews are genuine and awkward which gives you insight into his inner ‘nerd’. Whether this is a cognitive part of their marketing strategy or not, it’s working.

It’s hard to look away from a company pushing the envelope in almost every possible way and looking so far into the future. I mean really, how can you not get even the slightest enjoyment of watching a Tesla floating in space with a ‘Starman’ knowing that David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is blasting in the background? Genius.