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Networking is a lot like planting seeds

Here’s why you should never stop networking

By Dave McGurgan
Photo: surajith s

As humans, we all crave and need social interactions. Without these personal connections, we do not exist or function very effectively. We must never stop networking.

Our network of people that we interact with expands and contracts over time. If we don’t nourish our network on a regular basis, one can become disconnected from others. It can keep one from thriving in a meaningful way.

Networking is a lot like planting seeds. In most cases, it rarely produces immediate results. What you do today as you network may not come to fruition for many weeks or months to come.

When you plant a seed, you are creating opportunities for yourself and others in the future.

The more you nurture your network, the more opportunity to plant seeds and meet interesting people along the way.

Whether it’s a LinkedIn connection request, a referral or a get-in-touch e-mail, it’s important never to stop engaging with your networks of people, places and things. As humans ,we crave and seek out that engagement.

Woman at computer

Manage a PPC campaign without breaking a sweat

By Dave McGurgan
Photo: Tatiana Niño

Here’s a blog post I wrote for the good folks over at Demandwave about Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. This guide helps Pay Per Click noobs kick off and execute a successful PPC campaign.

“PPC has become an effective channel for marketers to reach target audiences in the places where they spend the most time online. As prospective buyers begin their research process, vendor websites that rank high in search results are among the top sources of information that influence their decision-making. Along with organic ranking, PPC campaigns help position businesses as key players and subject matter experts for the search queries performed.”

The Beginner’s Guide to PPC Campaign Management [Demandwave]

Thomas Hughes and Gretchen Lohse of Carol Cleveland Sings

Soundtrack of Our Office: Carol Cleveland Sings

By Dave McGurgan

At Four Dog Creative, we listen to a lot of music because it provides us with endless inspiration and keeps our creativity elevated.

We listen frequently to Carol Cleveland Sings, whose album “Effervescent Lure,” made our (unpublished) list of Best Records of 2016.

Soundtrack of our office: Carol Cleveland Sings “Effervescent Lure” LP @carolclevelandsings #vinyl

A photo posted by Four Dog Creative (@fourdogcreative) on

The delightful video for their song, “Run to Your Bedroom,” features Sylvio, a gorilla who unleashes a big surprise after interacting with a computer he finds during a walk.

Slightly surreal and thoroughly enjoyable, it’s a delightful creative collaboration between Thomas Hughes and Gretchen Lohse of Carol Cleveland Sings and filmmakers Albert Birney and Anne Horel.

But wait, there’s more. “Slyvio The Movie” a full-length film which premieres at SXSW 2017 and features music by Hughes and Lohse.

Buy: Carol Cleveland Sings “Effervescent Lure”

House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration

House Industries book chronicles transforming artistic curiosity into satisfying work

By Dave McGurgan

Hiding in plain sight for nearly 25 years, House Industries might be the coolest brand and company to emerge from Delaware. The highly innovative design company began as a type foundry, but has made its mark by innovating and evolving at a rate that Miles Davis would have had trouble keeping up with.

Early on, founders Rich Roat and Andy Cruz took a pass on going the typical agency or creative shop route, instead, they followed their most personal passions and eclectic interests and allowed those to influence the direction of their company. As a result, House Industries created their own opportunities to work in disparate mediums such as fashion, product design and even cycling gear.

House Industries takes a look back at their history in “House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration.” The 400-page book weaves the narrative of the company’s unlikely ascent to become of America’s top design thought leaders along with many of their most visually-engaging projects. The book is an intriguing collection of valuable lessons, anecdotes and case studies that describe how one can transform obsessive curiosity into personally satisfying and fruitful work.

We’ve already pre-ordered our copy for the Four Dog Creative office. We recommend you do the same.

Amazon.com: House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration

The Dark Knight alternative movie poster design

Fan-made alternative movie poster design is delightful, sometimes beautiful

By Dave McGurgan

With classic movies often getting the reboot treatment, why shouldn’t posters for classic films also get the same treatment? That’s where fan-made alternative movie poster design comes in. Made by a variety of artists and designers, these posters re-imagine the visual identities of the films we know and love.

While some of these designs are based on or reveal essential plot twists, movie fanatics may disapprove. And some of them just miss the mark. But from a design perspective, these alternative movie posters are at the very least, fresh eye candy.

h/t NegativeMagenta via Reddit

Alternative Movie Posters

Woman taking photo mobile phone

More than 100 facts on how social media has impacted the business world

By Dave McGurgan
photo: Annie Spratt

Here are some social media insights that you can use to drop some social media knowledge on your boss and help you geek out with the social media managers in your life. The important takeaways that you’ll want to note for the business world include:

  • Spending on social media marketing is expected to double in the next three years
  • Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the social sites most likely to influence purchasing decisions
  • Facebook has 1.59 billion registered users
  • Instagram has 600 million registered users
  • Twitter has 320 million registered users
  • 43,000+ photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute
  • For every one photo uploaded to Instagram, 10 are uploaded to Snapchat
  • Social media penetration is nearly 60% in the U.S.
  • YouTube is big with kids: 85% of them report watching videos on the social network

Social Media Strategy twitter bird

Eight ways to optimize your social media strategy

By Dave McGurgan

More and more businesses and organizations are committing more budget and resources for social media as part of their overall marketing strategy. It’s no longer a question of “Is there value in being on social media?” It’s more of a question of, “How do we get the most value out of our social media strategy?”

Align your social strategy with your business plan

Perhaps the biggest misstep we see organizations making with their social media strategy is that it is not properly aligned with their business plan. In the worse case scenario, there may be no social media strategy in place at all, or it has gotten seriously off track! Other challenges can include lack of training and not allocating enough resources to empower those responsible for executing on social media to effectively move the ball down the field.

Nonprofits and small- and medium-sized businesses may find that they have been too busy managing their day-to-day operations and that they haven’t been using social media to market themselves and to engage and interact with their customers, prospects and the world at large. It’s a common scenario.

There’s an analogy I like to use for businesses that are active on social media but don’t have a strategy in place or haven’t allocated proper research. Imagine setting out to drive across the United States, but failing to map out what the routes will be and how you’ll get from point A to point B.

You’ll start off strong and with a lot of enthusiasm. You’ll do a lot of driving and begin to make decisions based on hunches (“I think we go this way”) instead of relying on the data (“The GPS says to go the other way”) or referring to your road map (i.e., strategy). What happens is you end up expending a lot of energy. And you’ll certainly go “somewhere,” but ultimately you’ll end up lost, begin to encounter frustration and eventually throw up your hands in defeat and unsure how to get your social program back on track.

Does that sound like a good game plan?

Make sure your social media strategy supports, is aligned with and runs parallel to your business plan.

Define your goals

Once you’ve aligned your social strategy with your business strategy, defining the goals of your social strategy will be your next step. At the risk of greatly oversimplifying, the goals of your social strategy should align with and support your business goals. It doesn’t have to be much more complex.

Many businesses are looking to acquire more qualified leads, engage prospects and convert leads into customers. But your social media strategy can (and should) also include things such as positioning your company as subject matter experts, answering questions and providing value to your audience. If your company’s business goals aren’t clearly defined, be sure to push back (on your boss) and ask, “What are we trying to accomplish with our social media program?”

Listen, listen, listen

Before you do anything on social, make sure you understand that your audience, peers, potential customers and existing customers are already conversing on social media. They may even be talking about you, your brand and their experience with your brand or product.

Please, oh pretty please, do not make the mistake of presuming you can jump right into conversations on social networks, blast your marketing message and expect that you’ll see results. You won’t. Read those last two sentences over again.

Social media marketing is very rooted in two-way conversation; listening is one of the cornerstones on which engagement occurs. When you’re listening, you’re laying the groundwork of providing value to your target audiences and participating in the conversation.


A successful social media strategy is one that is engaging. Using social media to shove your marketing messages in as many people’s’ faces as you can isn’t very effective. Do you want to risk alienating the audience you’re trying to reach? Then don’t show up on social and don’t just shout your buy-my-product spiel.
Engagement helps humanize your brand, build trust and fosters genuine interaction with your brand. Your social stream of outgoing messages should have not only your marketing messages but also provide engaging posts that demonstrate you’re listening to others, that you’re participating in the conversation and that you’re involved. More importantly, it’ll show that you’re there to provide value through your social media program.

Provide value

Let’s talk a little bit more about what is meant by value. Users are often searching for answers online through web searches and turning to social media for solutions. It’s rooted in customer service: Providing answers, insight and support. Delivering exceptional customer service on social media is still an often-overlooked tactic and is an excellent way to give value to your audience. And don’t forget about content curation. Spend time gathering (and creating) content related to your industry/audience. Liberally share useful articles and information.

Participate in industry events (conferences, meetups)

Participating in industry events such as meetups, conferences and Twitter chats is an excellent way to increase reach and visibility for your brand. Did you know when you attend industry conferences and events, there’s a parallel discussion occurring on social media and that is now part of the event experience?
These events are fantastic opportunities to specifically connect with individuals or companies you’re not already connected with, for prospecting and identifying subject matter experts in your industry. Engaging with these folks after the event is a great way to build long-term relationships online and create opportunities for engagement long after the event is over.

Rely on metrics to help tell the story

Analytics should determine your social media program’s performance. Rely on metrics to tell the story of what and how your social program is performing. Make decisions based on metrics and use analytics to derive insights into what content is working, what types of posts and interactions drive engagement and what things don’t resonate with your audience.

Don’t fall into the trap of relying on your gut or anecdotal thoughts about your social program such as, “Well, I think that most people follow us on social because of _________,” without having the stats to back it up. You can keep your social media program moving forward based on data and not assertions, which usually aren’t supported by facts.

Revise your strategy and tactics as needed

Social media strategies can and should evolve over time. A good program will be nimble enough to respond to changes in tools, additions of new networks and experiment with delivery of content. A good social program is responsive, rather than set in stone.

Ready to optimize your social media strategy? Call us today at (302) 367-4023 for a free consultation about your social media program.

Khun Narin Electric Finn Band

Soundtrack of our office: Khun Narin Electric Finn Band

After listening to Khun Narin Electric Finn Band‘s 2016 album “II,” we were once again reminded what a great delight their music is.

It blends psych rock and world music and western and eastern approaches to music-making.

Here is Khun Narin’s story told in two-and-a-half minutes.

And here’s a very psychedelic and inspiring 24-minute long megamix of Khun Narin’s music which you may enjoy.

File under: Psychedelic music from Thailand.

Stop working long hours

Please stop working long hours, nights & weekends

By Karl Smith

You have them in your office. We all do.

They work crazy hours during the week and work nights, weekends and during their vacation to boot. And they make sure you know about it.

As a leader, I have always gone out of my way to let my team know that that sort of behavior is not impressive, nor is it expected. Not that there aren’t times when you have to work well past the end of a typical 8-hour day. Not that there aren’t times when you have to crack open the laptop on the weekend. But on a day to day, week to week basis, that sort of thing shouldn’t be expected.

And lately, it seems other people are starting to see the light.

At the beginning of September, in preparation for Labor Day, Jena McGregor offered up a piece with this straightforward headline: Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

McGregor tees off with some of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s over-the-top views on being “strategic” with things like when you use the bathroom and, God help us, sleep, but hammers it home with, well, some facts.

Research, time and time again, shows the problems with overwork — on people’s health, on turnover, on absenteeism, on productivity. Studies have shown that after about 50 hours a week, productivity decreases, and it plummets after 55 hours, leaving no detectable difference between those who work 56 hours and those who work 70 — or 130, as Mayer suggested may be needed for successful startups.

McGregor’s piece was a follow-up to an article that explained those long hours are bad for you in a lot of ways. Again, the facts bear that out.

So why do people do it? To pump up their self-worth? To try to get people to work harder? The truth is, every one of these folks probably has a somewhat unique set of reasons. And they shouldn’t be the ones who identify the problem. People working these crazy hours aren’t helping you, or your organization, so it’s up to their organization’s leadership to recognize this for the symptom it is and get to the real underlying problem, then solve it.


Karl Smith writes frequently about leadership. His posts can be found on LinkedIn.

Social Media Marketing

What 2017 has in store for social media marketing

By Dave McGurgan

In the world of social media and social media marketing, one constant you can count on is constant change. New social media tools rise to the surface, while others reach the end of their lifespan. Meanwhile, major players such as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat continue to roll out new features. These changes can often shake up your organization’s social media strategy and playbook from year to year.

In 2017, we expect to see continued innovations in the social sphere and the continued evolution in being able to target, message and market to highly defined audiences. And here are some of the ways it’s all likely to unfold.

Video is about to hit the peak! Now’s the time to get on

“When asked which type of content they would like to create more of if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget, 83 percent of [the] marketers surveyed said video content.”

What 1,200+ of the world’s best marketers think about the future of social media [Inbound.org, Alfred Lua]

The status quo on social is shifting

“For marketers, social media in 2017 will be a challenge and opportunity. With the decline of content marketing and the rise of new technologies, like virtual reality and artificial intelligence, marketers will have to create new strategies to keep up.”

Social Media in 2017 [Crowdbabble, Katie Meyer]

New areas of communication will emerge

“Historically, social media existed as a way for individual people to communicate online. When brands caught on, it also became a way for brands to speak to and advertise to consumers. But now, social media is evolving in new communicative areas. Some platforms are offering means of customer service, increasing the significance and interactivity of exchanges between brands and consumers. Others, like Facebook, are delving into more professional communication. Expect to see more diversity here as more brands catch onto the potential.”

7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2017 [Forbes, Jayson DeMers]

The social media skills gap widens

More companies than ever are using social channels for marketing, customer service and sales: around 90 percent, according to the latest data from eMarketer.
But a curious thing has happened: training and resources for frontline employees have been largely ignored. Research from management consulting firm Capgemini Consulting says nine out of 10 companies report their workers don’t have the requisite skills to leverage social media as a business tool.

Top 5 Social Media Trends for Businesses in 2017 [Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes]

Employees Turn Into Beacons For Their Brand

“If you are working for a company that considers itself “connected”, you might be encouraged to share business updates. This is because brands have now started turning to employees as brand ambassadors to further their brand image. In other words, using employee social advocacy programs has grown about 191% since 2013.”

5 Trends That Will Transform Social Media in 2017 [Social Media Explorer, Nancy Grace]

Chatbots Take Over 1:1 Conversations

Automated communications are here to stay. Facebook’s Messenger app now enables brands to build their own chatbot response services, helping to automate and direct communications with customers that don’t require major human influence. This month, the network even announced that payments will be supported in the feature.

So far, the majority of chatbots on the network seem to be experiments with the potential and range of the feature, but that’s bound to change. As savvy marketers and developers begin to catch up with the possibilities, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see chatbots begin to automate communication in 1:1 conversations. If that happens, 2017 will be the year we begin to see tangible effects on your social media marketing strategy.

5 Predictions For Social Media Marketing In 2017 [Social Media Today, Brad Friedman]

Leveraging live video within social media

“In 2017, one of the marketing trends we’ll continue to see the increasing adoption of live video for businesses that are marketing themselves through social media. It’s a powerful tool. I think smaller companies are likely figuring out how they can leverage it. I expect we’ll see more experimenting with live video for sure. I also believe that we’ll see more tools or add-ons that help make the production of live video even easier. It’s pretty amazing: You can launch a live video stream with one click and a mobile device.”

Marketing trends to watch for in 2017 [Four Dog Creative, Dave McGurgan]

If you’re not sure where and how you should be focusing your social media marketing efforts, call us at (302) 367-4023 for a free consultation and see how we can help.