This is Why I Speak at Conferences

Last week I spoke at a panel at the SMX conference in San Jose on the topic of retargeting. When I'm visiting a conference, I always make an effort to meet new people. Breakfast, lunch or dinners are best to exchange names, stories and problem solutions. Sessions are there to fill up the time, and pick up some latest new testing other speakers have done. It was at one of the breakfast tables I got the best feedback of the week; somebody who had seen me speak at the Copyblogger Authority Intensive last year at my very first keynote. Based on my presentation, they made some radical changes to the way the company approached SEO, UX and design. These changes had the desired results for the company website: bounce rates dropped, user engagement up, growing SEO traffic.

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Dennis Goedegebuure keynote authority intensive Airbnb

As I'm planning to relaunch my website dennisgoedegebuure.com, I asked Jimmy if he could write me a testimonial for my new site. Yesterday I received the email with the following write up of what had happened after the company, GetVero, made the changes.

I heard Dennis speak at Copyblogger's 2014 Authority Intensive event. The topic, experience as SEO, was one I'd never considered. As our blog struggled to gain traction, we took Dennis' advice and invested heavily in design and user experience. The results have been incredible. Immediately, our bounce rates dropped and time on page increased. We even got press from a few design sites that loved the new site. Search traffic has steadily increased and we attribute much of that to the look and feel of the site.

Jimmy Daly - GetVero

Jimmy even added two screenshots, a before and after of the website:getvero-pre

getvero-post

This is one of the main reasons why I like to speak at conferences. Helping people to succeed online. Even when it slightly helps my competition, or I might be competing with myself later on, it feels good to contribute to a better web, better user experiences, and one more company which becomes more successful. The problem with getting these testimonials or feedback, is that it takes time for companies to implement your learnings, see results, and then report back to you. The ROI of a conference can not always measured directly the following day, week or month. Sometimes it takes a full 6 months to fully understand what you learned there, how it impacted your business.

The tools to give feedback to speakers are limited. So here it is:

If you ever have seen me speak at a conference, or have spoken with me during a lunch, and the conversation was helpful to the point you became more successful, I would like to hear from you. You can use the form below here, and let me know. I might use your testimonial on my site, and you might get a link back in return...

Can you write me a Testimonial

  • Drop files here or
    If you have screenshots of success stories, please share if I can use these
  • Write a short testimonial for my website dennisgoedegebuure.com I will be relaunching later this year. Specifically, where you've seen me speak, what you learned, what actions you took based on my talk, and the results you've seen. I really would appreciate it, and will link to your website of choice!
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Competing with Yourself, Do You Have What It Takes?

Oh the irony. I’m competing with my own SEO strategies from years ago. When I was working at eBay, creating lasting strategies to bring mountains of free SEO traffic to the platform, across multiple categories, I could never imagine I would curse the success I’ve had as I would be competing with my own strategies. At Fanatics, I will make it my mission to de-crown eBay on a number of Pet-Peeve queries I’ve had some success at while I was at eBay. Sometimes, I took it to the extreme, and made it a topic in my presentations at a number of conferences, in the hope any blogger in the audience would pick up the story, and live blog a link to some of the examples on my slides.

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Ernie Banks Baseball Cards

Almost 5 years ago, I got the chance to present in front of the whole eBay executive staff on the SEO opportunity for eBay. At that point, I learned a valuable lesson on enterprise in-house SEO: Know your audience, or even better; know the favorite queries of the top executives in your company.
For John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, it was clear to me I didn’t do my homework. When he asked me: “Why is eBay not ranking for Ernie Banks Baseball Card, while we have +6,000 collectible baseball cards on the site?”, the only response I could give him was a technical SEO explanation. The message was received with mixed emotions, as the limited attention span of CEO’s of a Fortune 100 company are not well suited for something like; Discoverability of a page, Topical relevance vs User Intent, or External- & Internal link distribution.
When we walked out of that meeting, the first thing I did was making a phone call to the team, order a page to be created for Ernie Banks Baseball Cards, and start to include the page into our internal link optimization. Luckily our team had built a flexible platform for long tail keyword targeting, using top of the page relevant content, and an API call to include live items on the site to keep the inventory on the page fresh. With little to no help from the main engineering teams, the platform had been driving massive amounts of ROI for several years, where now the system could be useful to create the perception with the CEO of eBay, his SEO team could actually deliver.

Instant results within a week

And guess what, within a day, the page was up. The following week, the page was ranking on the 1st page for the query Ernie Banks Baseball Cards. After 2-3 weeks, the page was #1. Awesome to be writing an email to your CEO and declare you conquered the topic he is so passionate about. After this, we pulled this trick many times more on executive favorite searches.
Ernie Banks Baseball Cards ranking #4 after 1 week

Lasting results, dominating the top of the SERP's

For years, the page we created was ranking on 1st position, paying back the initial investment many times, like money in the bank! And even the normal search page started to rank, where for the query Ernie Banks Baseball Cards, eBay dominated the first 2 positions for years!
Ernie Banks Baseball Cards page ranking #1 & #2 for eBay

Competing with Yourself

Fast forward ~5 years, and I just ended up starting with Fanatics to work on it’s SEO. Fanatics powers many sites, among the league site for MLB. In the sports collectible arena, we have a good horse in the race with Fanatics Authentic. And YES, we do have Ernie Banks Baseball cards on the site for sale (and Ernie Banks Jerseys, Baseballs, Vintage Trading Cards), which brings me to the moral of this story; I’m currently competing with my own work from years ago.

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Many SEO’s out there are competing with other SEO’s. But have you ever thought about being your own competitor, and look at your strategy from a different angle? How would you try to beat yourself? What tactics would you deploy, and what amount of resources do you need? It’s an interesting question I would love to get more input on from you. If you would like to share some of your thoughts, feel free to add it in the form at the bottom of this post here, and I will make sure I mention you in follow up blogposts.
As I’m battling my own SEO work, I’ve been helped by the large bureaucracy and in-efficiency of a large company like eBay. I normally wouldn’t diss a former employer which has been so good to me, but this is just plain stupid what has happened. Just 2 months ago, I noticed eBay had taken down the platform described earlier. The pages return a 404-error code, not even a 301 redirect. And where eBay used to have double rankings on top on profitable, long-tail keywords, driving a ton of free traffic, these have all been removed from the Google Index due to a block in Robots.txt and the platform been taken down.
Ernie Banks Baseball Card page gives a 404-error
A former colleague called it the greatest ROI project ever! With an initial investment of $250,000, eBay consistently pulled in $20m in GMV per year. As the platform was running for more than 6 years, the payback on the investment must have been 75X the initial investment. How about that for ROI.

Lessons learned

  1.  Always know your audience, know what they might be searching for, and be prepared to rank a page to point out the quality of your work, pro-actively!
  2. When competing with large companies, do not under estimate the stupidity of their actions. You might get ahead, just because the executive team in that company things certain pages need to be taken down. Don’t forget, SEO is a zero sum game, when the #1 ranking page falls out of the index, some other page takes it’s place.
  3. Do you have what it takes to compete with yourself? If your the best in what you do, can you beat your own tactics, strategies and smarts? This opens up a whole new way of thinking how to set up your campaigns, because if you don’t compete with yourself, others might, and they might win!

Share your thoughts here:

  • What would you do to compete with yourself, and win!
  • name isn't required
  • I might use your example in a follow up post, and link to your website/post you would like to get featured

Google Now Is A Mobile App Disrupter

My friend Jeremiah Owyang has been focusing on the sharing/collaborative economy for the last two years. In my time at Airbnb I hosted him a number of times at our HQ, and had some interesting conversations with him. Today he wrote a blog post on how Google is entering the collaborative economy in a big way. Of course, as a Google watcher I've been following this story, and see some similarities between the way Google is using Android as a platform to hook companies into a new service. For free, for now... See below my comment on JO's blog post. My earlier post on Google, self driving cars and Waze is also somewhat relevant in this whole discussion.

I see the extension of brands into Google Now more like an advertising play. It will become a way for Google to monetize Android, as it's now given away for free.

Let me explain; Google has been notorious for introducing new services for free, killing off whole industries. Look at companies like Shopping.com or other price comparison sites. By introducing Google shopping search, for free, these sites became irrelevant when the intro was combined with a de-ranking of these sites in the natural search results. As soon as Google had eliminated the competitive thread of these companies in the shopping comparison space, Google introduced pay-to-play in Google shopping.

With a prominent position at the top of the SERP's for any ecommerce query, the service is secured with a decent amount of web traffic.
Same will happen with the integration of Google Now. Brands integrate their inventory for free, at the moment, where Google will send them a lot of "free" traffic.

Here is a piece on the WSJ about it: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/20...

Most notable paragraph:

"The move to bring third parties into Google Now is aimed at making to tool more useful, and thus more popular among users. But it will also bring to Google Now, for the first time, prompts to spend money. For now, Google is not charging the third-party providers for the referral traffic."

Keywords you need to pay attention to here are:

  • more popular among users
  • for now, Google is not charging

Classic move, build the audience first, make companies addicted to the “free” traffic, start charging companies for the traffic once audience is big enough. I expect it will eat up all your mobile SEO traffic, and will be pay-2-play in the future... They teach your users to circumvent your app, and go to Google first, which is their problem right now as Google is lagging on mobile IMHO. Habits are hard to build, but as soon as these are established, habits are also very hard to break! As a brand, putting your content into Google Now seems like a smart thing to do, as you get a short term boost in direct App traffic, for free! However, long term Google will become the tax man, collecting for every visit into your app taking its cut, completely shutting down your mobile "free" SEO traffic. Big mistake!

What do you think? Where will this move from Google lead to? 

Leaving @Airbnb, Joining @Fanatics – Oh My!

goodbye Airbnb - Signing offThe year 2015 begins with a lot of change, something I’m quite familiar with since I’ve done major changes all at once in the past; i.e. in 2006 I met Fiona, moved to the US to take on a new job, got married and had a beautiful daughter. Yes, I like to shake things up sometimes! Moving to the US was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but in the end it all worked out. Just recently, I was confronted with a similar hard decision I had to make; and it was more a luxurious position I was in that made me uncomfortable what to pick. I had to choose between staying at Airbnb, or take on a new dream job at a different company with a team I worked with in the past. I picked the latter, and in December I joined Fanatics Inc. as the VP of Growth & SEO.

What made it extremely hard, is that I loved working at Airbnb, as you could tell from the many blogposts here, the Facebook posts of all my guests in between the Cereal boxes or all the tweets I’m still sending out when it comes to Airbnb. I mean, who doesn’t want to work with a company which enables Treehouse adventures for kids, story 1 & 2 here. At the moment, Airbnb is one of the hottest startups in the world, growing like a rocket ship, and is able to hire some of the most talented people in every discipline. So why leave..? And how do you come to such a decision? My former boss at Airbnb, Juney Ham,  has a good piece on it was well. I have had similar reactions and feelings.

Dennis Goedegebuure in between the Airbnb Cereal boxes, Obama O's & Cap'n McCain's

I never thought I would leave the company so quickly, especially after the success I recently had with the Berlin Wall film - Wall and Chain, and a 2014 year that Rocked! Working with people like Jonathan & Willow made the decision even harder. What incredible smart and talented people! When I wrote the post I joined Airbnb a little over 2 years ago, I was thinking it would be at least 4-5 years I would hang out here, maybe even longer. So why leave?

While working at the Wall and Chain film, I realized I have been standing still for a while. Last year I realized I’ve had been working on SEO for 10 years. That makes 11 this year. And while I love what I do, working on new marketing campaigns which extend beyond SEO, accelerated my thinking in new frameworks. At this moment in my career, I believe I will need to learn as any new things as much as possible! The combination of EPIC content, with data inspired stories and social media amplification, which were are combined in the Wall and Chain campaign, made me change and adapt some of the frameworks I’ve been using for years. On top of my LUMPS framework, I’ve built the Content-Brand Pyramid, which I will describe in a later blogpost.

Back in August I received a Facebook message from my old boss at eBay, who had just recently joined Fanatics together with a bunch of other ex-eBay people. He made it perfectly clear from the start that he was in it to recruit me. Very transparent. The more I was digging into the company, Fanatics, the more I liked the opportunity. As part of the Billion Dollar Startup Club, Fanatics flies most of the time under the radar. When I was asked to put the ideal job description for my role together myself, I knew it was going to be a very difficult decision. At first I didn’t really wanted to leave Airbnb, but how many times in your career will you get the chance to determine what you will be doing, where you will be able to grow, and have a big impact on an already large and further growing company?

The role I described is focussed around the new SEO; Where the worlds of SEO, Content & Social are diverging. The Berlin Wall campaign is an example of the new SEO, where we combine three key elements of content and social amplification:

  1. Disproportionate amount of media attention
  2. Social engagement & amplification
  3. Ultimately; long term SEO impact

I see the new SEO as the outcome of a very well designed product and EPIC content. This includes all the technical aspects of site structure, speed and technology, as well as the relevance of you content, mapping keywords and concepts to user intend, while building the authority of the sites through real smart brand marketing. Airbnb was able to match some of the requirements for what I wanted to do, but not all.

The final straw in the decision making process, was the picture below;

49ers game with the kids

I took Miss J and Mr D to a pre-season game of the 49ers in the new Santa Clara stadium. As some of you might now, D is absolutely crazy about every sport, but especially NFL football. The whole day he is walking around with, and throwing a ball in the air. But don’t think J is not interested. She amazes me with her deep knowledge of player and coaches names, and how the game is played. This picture made me realize an important fact in my life; I want to connect on a deeper level with my kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the mission of Airbnb, make everybody around the world they can feel they can belong anywhere. It’s an exciting higher objective to work on, and I know Airbnb will succeed! I’m rooting at the sidelines for the team, and as I have a vested interest in the success of Airbnb, I will do anything I can to help them further. Thanks to Brian, Joe & Nate for giving me the opportunity to work at such an amazing company, and thank you Jonathan for the new learnings I received working with you, although it was just for 6 months.

This time I'm choosing to connect with my kids on a topic they are really passionate about; Sports. And with so many people around the world, sports runs deep in their blood. Real passion is hard to fake.

I’m sure I can do something with that passion in sports of all the people to tell wonderful creative stories...

Stay tuned!

About Fanatics Inc.

Fanatics is currently one of only four $1B, profitable, private internet companies globally.
Fanatics is a leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise and provides the ultimate shopping experience to sports fans. As a Top 50 Internet Retailer Company, Fanatics comprises the broadest online assortment offering hundreds of thousands of officially licensed items via its Fanatics (http://www.fanatics.com) and FansEdge (http://www.fansedge.com) brands. In addition, the company powers the e-commerce sites of all major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA), major media brands (NBC Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports) and e-stores for over 150 collegiate and professional team properties.

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Top 7 Projects for 2014 – Annual Performance Self Review

At the end of every year, normally your company expects you to write up a self review on your work and performance. While re-reading this wonderful post on how to hack your annual self-review by my buddy Jonathon I got inspired to take this self review thing one step further. This time I decided to highlight some of my accomplishments from the last year publicly here on my blog, and will continue to do this in the next years. I hope this will serve me in understanding the progress I want to make in learning new skills. As one of my colleagues, in a conversation about career and development, said to me last year; “You need to make sure you have projects you’ve worked on which you are proud of to add to your resume, at least a couple each year!” So here goes, this is the list of my accomplishments at Airbnb in 2014, with a little explanation around it why I believe it was significant for me to add to this list, and possibly to my resume.

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Airbnb Economic Impact Interactive Infographic.

I've been doing infographics since the first iPad launched back in 2010. These tactics don't always work that well anymore, where a static image is not being picked up broadly to get more links or attention. The Infographic has been used so many times with poor content, hardly anybody still pays attention to again another Infographic. Which is why I wanted to experiment with the technologies the modern web can offer a better way of storytelling while also getting SEO value out of your efforts. Introducing the Interactive Infographic, all coded in html 5, with CSS3 and responsive design.
 Airbnb economic impact infographic. Showing traveler econmic impact on local economies in cities around the world.
Given the economic impact studies Airbnb already had done, I saw an opportunity bringing this content onto the web to a much broader audience.  What better way to showcase the impact Airbnb travelers have on a local economy than through a great interactive page, which looks beautiful and is chock-full of interesting data points! The Infographic page launched in early March at Airbnb Economic Impact.

The results we got were pretty decent, given that we picked up a good amount of external links to the page (649 links from 102 different domains according to Majestic), which was built with the intention to do a 2-step link-building strategy. Far after the IG was published, it keeps picking up nice links and citations. Here are some of the great media outlets the piece was featured in Times Magazine; The Washington PostLocalSEOGuideMashableVirginCNetStartup BootcampContently

Landing Pages for SxSW in Austin

Probably one of the projects I can say I learned the most from. For a large campaign at SxSW in Austin, I jumped in to help a different team to get a landing page up on the Airbnb blog, just 3 days before the campaign would kick off. With a tied schedule, the teams got full on in planning mode for the event to be memorable, some might even call it remarkable since they would meet up with their favorite celebrity. Crazy tight timeline, which forced me to cut some corners. And as SxSW is very important for Airbnb, the cutting corners and the feedback was a good learning! At the same time, the project also was my starting point for new learnings and critical input for my presentation I did later in the year at Authority Intensive in Dallas!

Brian Chesky tweet SxSW Austin Airbnb

The Campaign was centered around 3 main celebrities who decorated Airbnb pop-up listings at the Airbnb Park.

Amidst the chaos and commotion of SXSW this year, Austin visitors and locals alike found respite at our pop-up Airbnb Park in East Austin. Over the course of five days, Airbnb Park offered up games, refreshments, unexpected acts of hospitality, and special events to attendees... We worked with special new hosts Snoop Dogg, Capital Cities, and Allen Stone to create unique Airbnb pop-up homes to feature at the Park. In collaboration with designer Emily Henderson, our musical hosts created three pop-up homes in their own unique design aesthetics. Two weeks prior to opening the Park, we launched an Instagram contest, #AirbnbMusic, prompting people to create a special “welcome” that spoke to the distinct style of each artist. Our Instagram community snapped some amazing photos of their welcomes, and three creative winners received VIP trips to SXSW to meet their artist hosts in person and get the full Airbnb at SXSW experience.

Snoop Dogg Airbnb park SxSW Austin

Snoop.. meeting the contest winners, having a good time..! Well you know what that means, right! The whole event got a lot of attention in the press, Twitter/Facebook. In my old days, this would have meant a homerun...

Although we got the campaign pages live on time for the events in Austin to kick off, there was a major thing I overlooked. The pages were not mobile friendly, where all people at SxSW are mobile and on the move. How in the world can you read the program and timing for events to kick off on a small screen which is such a bas user experience! Ouch!

SxSW Airbnb park campaign website mobile miss

If we would have worked on a story board for SxSW, and considered all people are on the move from point a to point B, we might have been in a better place from there... Would have planned for the prototype and design reviews with the understanding of how our guests would access the information about the event: on a mobile phone...Where the product design and user experience was optimal, AND have SEO success on top of that...

Still, due to working with celebrities, we got great coverage in major news outlets. For SEO I made sure we would redirect the Austin-2014 page to a blog post describing the whole event. You can read it here.

Authority Intensive

Over the years I've learned a lot from Brian Clark, Copyblogger.com. So when I learned his company was organizing a conference, I reached out to share some of my knowledge with him and his audience to give back. I landed my very first 45 minutes keynote, just one speaking slot after one of my all time marketing hero's: Seth Godin. Yikes, I better bring my A-Game! And what an intro Brian gave me, wow, I couldn't ask for a more generous introduction and testimonial.

I first met Dennis at a conference, when he was director of SEO for eBay, pretty serious position, and he was just sitting at a table speaking with his Dutch accent, and just mind blowing stuff. I sat there, slightly drooling, just listening to the stuff he was talking about. Very creative solutions, nothing black hat but very creative. And the best SEO’s out there I've always found to be the most creative thinkers. And that is why a lot of them are having a good time with the transition to content marketing, even if its against their will.

-- Brian Clark

Dennis Goedegebuure keynote authority intensive Airbnb

The topic I picked was inspired by the example of my campaign page for the SxSW event, and the design focused ethos at Airbnb; Snow White.

  • What is the person thinking & feeling in each frame?
  • What motivates these characters to progress in their journeys?
  • What opportunities exist to improve or enhance the experience for them?
  • How does your work influence what the character feels, knows, thinks, decides, or does?

This resulted in a new line of thinking I developed, which has been further refined over the course of 2014!

SEO is the outcome of a great product, designed to maximize the user experience

Really these sum it all up:

  • SEO is the outcome of a great product experience. Not the objective.
  • The key to a strong brand is sweating the details behind the user experience.
  • Critique and review, and storyboarding are critical components of web product design.
  • Context matters if you want to get found — Design and SEO working together.
  • Short-term SEO tactics don’t work very long.
  • Stop focusing on “SEO” and instead focus on people searching. What are they thinking and feeling? What is motivating them to take action?

Superbrand Marketing Offsite

While I was traveling for the Authority Intensive conference, news broke internally at Airbnb we hired a new CMO. Wow, we hired Jonathan Mildenhall from The Coca-Cola Company. Why was I getting excited? Well, here I am, at a content marketing conference hearing the news the God-Motherf***-Father of content marketing is joining Airbnb to lead the marketing efforts. I mean, from the moment Coke published their Content 2020 strategy I felt I could work with the man who inspired the whole revival of Coke as a creative marketing company. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you just need to review the Content 202 video below here on YouTube (17 minutes)

In the first week, I got the privilege to get Jonathan up to speed on Airbnb's Online Marketing initiatives, and he proposes I would organize an offsite for the full team, what is now called Superbrand Marketing. He must have read my LinkedIn profile, as I have some experience in this field in my past jobs.

For 6 weeks I worked on this project. Finding a location, matching the agenda with external speakers, booking catering with the Airbnb chefs and much more. The result; 2 days of inspiration, hard work and a read map to the end of the year with processes, plans and performance metrics.

Airbnb Superbrand Marketing offsite - Dennis Goedegebuure

Behind the Content

While I was visiting Denver for Authority Intensive, I connected with Jason Miller, who was also a speaker. Our paths had crossed before, but we never really connected at the level we did at this conference. So many aspects of Jason's talk resonated with me, I just had to connect with him. At while at an informal speakers dinner I grabbed the chance. And guess what, we totally clicked. We ended up talking about content marketing, social media and online for a long time.

For one of his projects, Behind the Content, Jason asked me if I could provide him with some good Airbnb examples of content marketing campaigns, and the story behind it. Since we just launched the Economic Impact Infographic earlier in the year, I proposed we would use this project, especially as I was already cooking up my next one.

Taking a cue from VH1's Behind the Music, we've teamed up with our pals at LinkedIn to bring you Behind the Content. In this new guide, we expose the true stories behind how (and why) some of the web's most captivating content came into existence. While Behind the Content does not featureMilli Vanilli or M.C. Hammer, it does showcase some of the coolest content creators around from big brands, to agencies, to individual designers and developers.

Behind the Content of the Economic Impact Study from Airbnb

The white paper was distributed through LinkedIn and Hubspot, with a pretty nice teaser to drive downloads;

Where did the inspiration for the campaign come from?

"Over the last two years, Airbnb has been working with an external research and consulting firm to map out its economic impact.

We found that Airbnb’s guests have an impact on the local economies of a city’s neighborhoods. As Airbnb listings are more spread out over a city, the Airbnb guests bring more tourist money into neighborhoods which usually are not often visited by guests of the city who typically stay in a hotel. The data shows that 76% of the Airbnb’s you can rent in these eight cities are actually outside the main hotel districts.

So after conducting eight studies of several large cities around the world, we aggregated the information we found into the Economic Impact content piece."

- Dennis Goedegebuure (Head of Global SEO, Airbnb)

The lesson learned; great content will get you additional exposure through your relationships. Everybody likes to share EPIC content!

Wall and Chain - Berlin Wall story

Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign.

This video sums it up nicely.

I will go deeper into the specifics of this campaign, with the whole strategy behind it from a content marketing perspective, as well as the social content amplification strategy, and the results in a later post, which you can find here; Berlin Wall and Chain. For now, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter to get that post automatically delivered in your inbox through email. The full campaign website is still up and running at BelongAnywhere.com

Wall and Chain - A story about belonging by Airbnb. Dennis Goedegebuure

Working on this project was my biggest jump in experience and learnings this year. I've had some great successes so far in my career, but I believe I can call this campaign my best creative work yet! And others agreed that the campaign was some great work...

 

email Brian on Wall and Chain

As I mentioned, I will devote a full blog post on the whole Wall and Chain campaign.

Berlin Economic Impact Infographic

Next to the animated video of the Wall and Chain story, we combined the whole campaign with an Interactive Infographic of the Airbnb Economic Impact study for Berlin. This time, the design team hired a local designer to get the best local flavor in the full story telling of the infographic. The attention for detail here speaks to what is one of the core values for Airbnb: Every frame matters.

By hiring a local designer, you stimulate the local economy. The designer for this piece is an immigrant in Berlin, originally from Israel.

  • Having an economic impact on local economy; check
  • Cultural relevant; check

Airbnb's impact on local economy in Berlin. Economic Impact study Infographic as content marketingYou can find the full infographic at: Airbnb's Economic Impact on local economies in Berlin.

Conclusion

I'm sure I can call 2014 one successful year when it comes to projects I initiated and was leading. The list of 7 successful projects here does not even include the major brand relaunch Airbnb did, for which I worked on the blog redesign. There is so much more I could mention here, but I will stick to the big rocks that made the year successful.

Obviously I couldn't do this all by myself. I'm so blessed with a great team at home, who make my life enjoyable outside of work. Furthermore, there are teams and specific colleagues at Airbnb who have worked with me. These people make Airbnb a special company. More specific: Willow, AlexD & Jonathan all played a major role in my success in 2014. Thank you for that!

As I only highlighted the successes here, there were a couple of valuable lessons learned as well. Based on these lessons, 2015 might look completely different, where we have started the new year with some major changes. But thats for a next blogpost!

Wall and Chain – Berlin Wall Campaign Best Work in my Career

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Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign. This video sums it up nicely.

Twitter Engagement Testing > Are you using images for maximum impact?

Based on a post from MG Siegler, in which he describes the practice of posting images with text on Twitter, I wondered how my tweets with embedded images did in terms of engagement. A quick check with Twitter analytics gave me two interesting data points of last week tweets; One tweet got a massive engagement rate according to Twitter analytics. Normal tweets I post most of the time get around than 3-4% engagement rates, outliers are scoring up to 10%! This one got a whopping 17.5% in the first 24 hours!
Tweet with crazy engagement
A couple of things...
  1. The tweet was posted on a Sunday, as I shaved my head that day, this might have limited the number of people who saw my tweet! Overall, the number of impressions this tweet got was around 40% lower than tweets I post during the work week.
  2. It had an embedded picture of my freshly shaved head, however the picture was cropped as it was showing a criminal in it. A large number of the engagements came from people who clicked to see the full image
  3. The engagement could be higher than my average, just because I have a lot of followers who know me. Shaving my head was a first, so it could be the engagement was just off the charts because they wanted to see my bald head.
  4. All of the engagements were organic. I did not pay for any of the engagements.
Funny enough, a tweet from a week later, during Stormageddon here in San Francisco, actually received almost as high engagement as shaved head tweet. This one was a picture from Sharknado, a couple of sharks swimming in the basement of a shopping center. Obviously this was a test to see what kind of engagement I could score on said tweet. Pff what do you think, sharks swimming in the streets of San Francisco...
Testing engagement on Image tweet
With these detailed Twitter analytics, it's becoming easier to start optimizing for engagement on your tweets. More visuals, less boring content!Twitter Engagement Testing > Are you using images for maximum impact?
Let me know what your engagement looks like on your tweets, would love to hear!

How @Buffer Made My Day, for Days in a Row

Vanity, my favorite sin. This is a quote from the movie: Devils Advocate. The vanity has definitely worked on me, as I've been walking on clouds for the last couple of day. Ever since one of my favorite web apps, Buffer, has put one of my posts on their list of suggested post for their Buffer community.



Buffer suggested posts

The reason why I'm so happy about this; simple! I creatively worked on this system to stitch webapps like Pocket, IFTTT & Buffer together, to make it easier for you to share your curated content on social media. The fact the post was liked by Buffer is a huge statement for me.

And it brought some nice traffic to my little site, which I'm not even writing so much on.

Buffer traffic outbreak

And the Buffer gift keeps on giving over the last couple of days:

Buffer keeps on giving

Main source of traffic is Twitter, where the post have been massively retweeted. Now the URL has been tweeted over 1,000x according to Topsy:

Tweet results tracked by Topsy

Whenever something like this happens, I get fired up with new ideas to blog about. The automatic sharing system has so much potential, especially now that everybody on Twitter has access to the analytics. With a simple VLook up in Excel, I'm sure I can do some magic for a follow up post!

Get into the Buffer Suggestions, and expect a massive amount of traffic and Tweets of your post. You can pick up a decent amount of new followers as well on the way. Thanks @Buffer

Thanks Buffer for your support! I'm a happy paying customer, and love your service!

Buzzfeed Love or Hate? How a Buzzfeed article made me open my mind for more Pulp

A number of people who I work with everyday have heard me saying this; I don't particular like Buzzfeed (yep, no linking here). The click-bait article publishing website which polluted my newsfeed on Facebook for a long time, until I blocked anymore links from Buzzfeed. So when I saw the article: BuzzFeed: An Open Letter to Ben Horowitz published by Frederic Filloux over the weekend, I said to myself, "Finally somebody invested the time to write about this!" and stood up to give the writer an applause. My favorite passage:

I spent some time trying to overcome my reluctance to BuzzFeed’s editorial content. I wanted to to convince myself that I might be wrong, that BuzzFeed could in fact embodysome version of journalism’s future. But if that’s the case, I will quickly resettle in a remote place of New Mexico or Provence.

BuzzFeed is to journalism what Geraldo is to Walter Cronkite. It sucks. It is built on meanest of readers’ instincts. These endless stream of crass listicles are an insult to the human intelligence and goodness you personify. Even Business Insider, a champion practitioner of cheap click-bait schemes, looks like The New York Review of Books compared to BuzzFeed. And don’t tell me that, by hiring a couple of “seasoned editors and writers” as the PR spin puts it, BuzzFeed will become a noble and notable contributor of information. We never saw a down/mass market product morphing into a premium media. You can delete as many posts as you wish, it won’t alter BF’s peculiar DNA.

Fact is, quality content does exist in BuzzFeed (an example here), but in the same way as a trash can contains leftovers of good food: you must go deep to find it.

Exactly how I think about Buzzfeed. Why do I think this way; well, before I blocked Buzzfeed in my Facebook newsfeed, I was confronted with two articles which made me really sad about the state of the Internet, humanity and most of all, the friends who liked it, shared it or commented on it which made these post appear in my newsfeed:

  • 26 People Who Are Too Stupid For Their Own Good
  • 20 People We Hope Never To See Promoted On OKCupid

Ok, the first one might be a little funny, where most of the names of the 'stupid people' were blurred. The second is just offensive. Who made the editor of this piece of garbage the coolest kid on the block to bash other people who are searching for love? And most stupid of all is Virgin Mobile, who are sponsoring this article, and position their brand next to a blog post trashing other people based on their picture...Yuk! See what it says:

OKCupid is letting users pay to promote their profiles. Let’s hope these guys don’t decide to take advantage.

 

Buzzfeed OKCupid trash article

 

Ok, so it's clear why I don't like Buzzfeed. But what peaked my interest, was what the people on HackerNews were saying about it, the place where I found this open letter to Ben Horowitz. See the post on HN here. With all the hate for SEO normally get as being a deceptive practice from the HN community, I would have expected nothing less for the Click-Bait machine, abusing and making fun of normal people to pump up their Edgerank. As I read the comments, I was surprised to read no haters comments on the low quality editorials Buzzfeed so many times is pushing;

The author is shorted sighted. I'm surprised so many people on HN following his thought patterns, because what Buzzfeed is doing is nothing short of classic disruption.

In a disruptive startup, you always start with a _worse_ product that appeals to a marginally group of users who'll fervently love you.

The demographic that's on Buzzfeed all the time, is the type who wouldn't be reading news anyways. So what if they look at cats and take quizes, and once in a while eyeball an article about Ferguson / Ukraine / ISIS that they wouldn't have done anyways. Look at http://www.buzzfeed.com/world, how many of those are linkbaits? How many are quality contents? It's not unimaginable that overtime, the (vegetable news) : (shitty news) ratio can increase....

...Why can't people accept that Buzzfeed, at its current state, isn't meant to appeal to everyone? Those who bash at Buzzfeed sound like the mindless YouTube comments on Justin Bieber's videos saying how shitty his music is. It's not for you. Don't listen to it...[1]

or

Jonah Peretti figured out how to spam the web better than anyone with the Huffington Post. He also figured out how to get away with it. It's been called the veneer strategy. The idea is to take a little bit of legit content and make it look like that's the site. In reality all of your real traffic comes into your many thousands of shitty linkbait articles. This throws off Google's spam team and confuses people about what you're doing. Hopefully you sell before the house of cards comes crumbling down.

There's a reason McDonald's sells salads and it's not because they believe it's the future of fastfood. It provides cover when the idea of sickening billions with shitty food occasionally heats up. [2]

 

And

This is a perfect combination of every short-sighted, angry old media, and old man rant I've ever come across. I mean, to go from hating on BuzzFeed to somehow ending up on the "Africa is one single country and let's help it" trope is quite impressive.

Best article that sums up what Buzzfeed is really about, and why I believe it is incredible for the future of journalism is this piece by Felix Salmon. Basically, he makes the point that Buzzfeed is in effect a massive advertising agency, and their content efforts are all experiments to better understand how to reach younger people. They then make money off of selling that expertise to brands.

... [3]

And although these comments made me think about the post which started this whole rant, it does not change my general thinking if any brand would be smart to put their name next to the pulp articles Buzzfeed is pushing online. Even if the content is improving, the Buzzfeed brand still carries their history with it, and you cannot easily shake of your history and reputation with adding more quality in the mix.

So is there more quality on Buzzfeed?

If I have blocked Buzzfeed from my Facebook newsfeed, how would I be able to know when the inflection point for the quality on Buzzfeed is? Well, I cannot block the entries of Buzzfeed on my favorite technology news aggregator: Techmeme.

And guess what, today Buzzfeed made the homepage of Techmeme with a more quality and informed article on the settlement in the Tinder sexual harassment case. Go figure. [4]

Buzzfeed article makes Techmeme homepage

If the Hackernews community can have an open mind about Click-Bait articles, I guess even I can be open to some higher quality Buzzfeed Pulp!

Real Winner of Panda 4.0 Correlation is Causation

I can't believe this was missed by all those SEO experts writing their analysis posts about the latest Google Panda update, this is Panda 4.0! They all are focussing on the wrong stuff. You need to put your thin foil hat on to be able to see it, but it's pretty obvious once it is pointed out to you. The real winner from the Panda 4.0 update is Google!

Here is how this is played out. Google updates their index, shifts a couple of large companies around. Naturally, all SEO's trying to get into the spotlight of mainstream media, throw out a quick headline with a poor analysis of who is the biggest loser. Something like; "Brand X just lost 80% of their rankings, once you find out which company it is, it will blow you away...!" This is all the big smoke screen to hide what is really going on.

However, seasoned SEO's, who have learned the law of correlation = causation see right through this smoke screen.
Tweet: Correlation = Causation?

Here it goes:

My friends at Search metrics wrote an extremely helpful data analysis showing the biggest losers and winners of the Google Panda 4.0 update. As you can see in the losers row, large brands are used to pull up the smoke screen. You will need to pay attention to the winners of this update. Which company is close at the top of the list..? Right, it's Glassdoor.com

Glassdoor winner of Panda 4.0

Glassdoor, off course is the company where we all go to rate the company and our bosses, not using our real name off course!  Well, Glassdoor won in this update BIG TIME! Is Glassdoor so good in SEO, that they had to win? Not sure, as I received an invitation to apply to their head of SEO not that long ago, so they must still be looking for somebody setting out the strategy.

It clicked with me once I saw the headline this morning at the Wall Street Journal;

Google Rated Top Employer for Pay and Benefits by Glassdoor

Google Rated Top Employer for Pay and Benefits by Glassdoor

You see, there is an epic battle going on in Silicon Valley, the way for talent. Free food, free transportation, multi million dollar stock packages, you name it. These are the perks thrown in by tech companies to get the best people to work for your company.But a company get's really the most and best resumes if the perception in the market is that it's the best place to work.

I know a trick when I see one, and by the law of correlation = causation, this must be true. Google has given Glassdoor a giant lift in search rankings to get the #1 spot of best place to work, while pulling up a giant smokescreen so that every SEO analyst will focus on the losers. In the process, Google will safe giant recruiting budgets.

Well played Google, I guess I saw right through your trick!

 

Disclaimer: This obviously is a parody post, to make fun of all the so called "SEO experts" who do half baked analysis on an update just to get the attention. One of the only post I believe describes the facts, is the one from Search metrics, rewarded with a link here