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Dennis Williams II

The Content Engine, My New Co-Authored Book

“A fresh perspective and truly comprehensive guide on content marketing. It’s the perfect read for marketers at any size company across any industry looking to build their content marketing strategy.”
Josy Hamren, Retention Specialist at Foursquare

Content is king. Today, marketing teams seem to be in a rush to create content or aren’t intact with who they’re trying to reach. So how do you create a content marketing strategy that fuels your company’s broader business goals? That’s what you will find out here!

In this guide, you will discover how to craft your content marketing strategy—a content marketing strategy that drives engagement, not just clicks. From determining where that content fits your broader audience to distribution, you will learn how content works as the engine of your modern marketing machine.

Whether it’s about getting users to download your mobile app or your latest album, content is the center of growing your brand and your audience. Learn how to build a real strategy.


Here’s what’s inside:

  • What is content?
  • Content is central
  • Setting up your strategies
  • Business goals & Metrics
  • Content creation
  • Content syndication
  • Building a community
  • Case study
  • Tech stack

Read Content Engine

My Year of 23: Love, Work, Progress

I remember my life frequently and in chapters. Despite all of the hustle and bustle throughout the day, flashbacks still find their way into my head. Those moments are what I hope to capture here. The past year for me has been big. Bigger than big, it’s been huge. With so many ups and downs, I wasn’t sure if I’d reach the goals that I had set for myself. Yet, if you’ve been following my journey, then you see the joy I have in my work and the effort I put in; each and every day.

The past year for me has been big. Bigger than big, it’s been huge. But with so many ups and downs, I wasn’t sure if I’d reach the goals that I had set for myself. Yet, if you’ve been following my journey, then you see the joy I have in my work and the effort I put in; each and every day.

Storytelling for me has always been my outlet from day one,  I’ve always wanted to tell a good story.

Just a couple years ago that meant writing about love, tech, and society for The Huffington Post and a number of other outlets to help me pay the bills and also to create a voice through my experiences. Nowadays the writing is more tailored towards tech and business.

The last of couple of years have been tough; I had to find my way on my own, no different than the others. But as I approach my 24th birthday in preparation of renewing my lease  for another year out here New York, I take a real look back.

Last night I made a personal decision. If you know me you know that I’ve always felt the need to prove myself.  Regardless of the contest I wanted everyone to know that I was worthy. Whether that meant training countless hours to become better at my craft or keeping you updated on what I’m doing on social media – the urge was there. In today’s world that likely means FOMO, fear of missing out.  Over my years I’ve just been working too hard to stay in front of other people. And not enough time enjoying the fruits of my labor. So yesterday I signed off of social media for a few months and I felt that instead of turning to the social world I should recap my year here. A sense of closure I guess?

It’s been two years since I wrote what love would look like without smartphones. If you’ve been a follower of this site you know the doors that article opened for me, but more importantly you know the genuine opinion that it expressed. One day I hope to have the chance to write those kinds of things again but in the meantime I doubt you all want to hear about the business related articles so I don’t think I’ll be posting much here. But in an effort to keep you updated here’s where I’ve been throughout this past rollercoaster of a year.

As the year went on I found myself focusing a lot more on my work, which led to a content partnership with LinkedIn, a mentorship with a program called New York on Tech, Bando, Black Theory II, and now my role at Augment. Since October I’ve amassed over 800,000 views on LinkedIn pulse and Black Theory II is in contention for a handful of screenings/awards this upcoming spring and summer as well as educational installments. Bando, my passion project, is still growing organically and will be soon getting funding for an overhaul.

As my personal year comes to a close and I approach 24,  I want some break of the habits of before. This year I’ve seen a great deal of growth in expressing myself, a great deal of growth in my writing and I hope to further growth in my connections. Being 23, I’ve learned just as much as I’ve experienced and I hope to continue to become the man I’ve dreamed of becoming.  This may seem cliche to you all but right now I have a personal mission. This website has been my portfolio since day one, and if you go back and look at the first post it’s where I started on the ground level.  I hope there’s a beautiful ending to the story and I thank you all for your early support. If you only know of me through the internet then you should know that I’m an introvert, I don’t express myself well and I used to close off those who know me best. Sitting here on the other side of this computer with a broken arm not sure when I’ll be able to type fluently again is tough but I know I’ve grown because my outlook would be so much different just a year ago. If I’ve learned anything it’s that you should always speak your mind for the sake of your relationships, invest in yourself for the sake of your future,  and control what you can control; let go of what you can’t.

Until I sign back on again,

Best,

  • Dennis

 

How Soon We Forget

 When lies benefit us we rather accept that than the truth

Except, what still holds true?

The law is all presiding, right?

But I now fear the man with the gun and the badge

more than I do just the man with the gun.

The moral code of the streets seems more honorable than our justice system

If only the ones who took the bullet got the mulligan

How soon we forget the many (black) lives lost just last year

But how quickly do we recall when it’s convenient

Our feelings waiver but the divide never lessens

Black is the accumulation of all color, yet we support none

Not even black.

How soon we forget to support the ones that have already opened that door for us

How soon we forget to self reflect before outward blame

How soon we forget the ones that have fallen

Public support waivers and social media activism dissipates.

It’s rarely crowded on the extra mile.

A life behind bars or in the stars, our fate can be decided

Troubling that an oscars boycott ignited an internet rally. But some lives are no longer here to even watch the ceremony.

We rally for the trend not for the cause

Was there ever really grief when we move on so quickly?

Or were your condolences only honorable at the moment?

No huddle called when 14 cops were acquitted of murder

No huddle called when video evidence is ignored and hearsay is creed

Our biggest compliment is the imitation of our culture

The worst? The imitation of our culture

Yet we still decide not to recognize our own

How soon we forget

Why I Spent My Christmas Binge Watching Snapchat

“Mommy, even if none of those gifts under the tree are for me, I’m still thankful because I have family.”

True words from my cousin reciting her daughter’s first words from Christmas morning. The story took 3 takes, twice interrupted by the 5-year old’s closeup cameo in search for games on her mother’s phone. I had to have watched that story almost a dozen times. Yea, it’s a heartfelt video and I’m sure it warranted a slew of emojis. But it represented the household she’d built and the morals their family had practiced even at such an early stage.

This sparked a marathon of snapchats where I played wallflower to a number of families throughout the day.

It’s safe to say that everyday on Snapchat is a quick glance into one’s life. But today was different. Today, Snapchat had one theme and hundreds of versions of it. People’s stories would introduce a storyline that wouldn’t be continued until hours later. Regardless, I’d stick through the buffering just to catch the series finale.

I couldn’t describe the feeling other than nostalgia at its finest. I didn’t post one story but I poked my head into the window of over 20 living rooms. I saw every stage of the tradition. From young parents running their children through adventurous Christmas Eve journeys in hopes they sleep steadily through the night. Down the list, I saw a girl who had her first chance to treat her parents after her first “real world” check. I got to witness the surprisingly inconspicuous 11-year old kid rave about the do-it-yourself gift he’s been keeping quiet for his parent’s gift. One of my friend’s even posted one Snapchat from each of the five cities he traveled to with his family for the holidays.

The view was fulfilling to say the least because of the love and energy radiating from these evolving stories. I caught myself laughing as kids opened the gifts their mothers were so excited/exhausted from the night before.

Though I did take a quick intermission to see DJ Khaled water his inanimate lion.

The biggest realization of mine was the whole process of both the younger kids who snapchatted their Christmas experience and the others who did the same but gave me an entirely different perspective. The experience likened itself to a montage from the end of any Tyler Perry movie, your pick.

Since the teens, Christmas became less about the getting and more about the giving. The routine question of asking your brothers or sisters about your dad’s Christmas gift always comes up just days before. Still, if you’re lucky your stocking stuffers will come through in the clutch.

As one who started to slide into the feeling that Christmas is just another day, I admit listen to much holiday music or watch Home Alone this season. But even without the bells and whistles, I felt right at home watching Christmas through the eyes of friends and family.

Is this what Santa feels like?

Amazon’s Best Gift This Holiday Season Can’t Be Bought: Content

Amazon’s dominance among online retailers likens itself to Apple when it comes to consumer hardware. They support over 270 million active customers, with an expected 60-80 million involved in their premium service, Amazon Prime. To give you a comparison, Ebay currently has 157 million active buyers.

But Amazon’s presence in the e-commerce market isn’t by chance. Why? To put it simply, innovation. Not a buzz word, rather the definition of the term. Amazon has pushed the envelope to create new methods in every factor of their business.

From a marketing perspective, I’ll always feel that their greatest innovation to-date is how efficiently their retargeting can carry a prospect through a complete sales cycle; or how their use of customer data makes for better communication and user experience.

Though it’s hard to argue that their roll out of the one-hour delivery turn around and drone-powered service hasn’t vastly raised the bar of the product delivery industry.

As Amazon continues to innovate, their latest move to bring content to the forefront of e-commerce will give consumers a new perspective when it comes to online shopping. But more importantly it undoubtedly validates the presence of content marketing in 2016.

Native Advertising Retargeting

Amazon’s content platform quietly rolled out in Q2 of this year and it appears that Amazon is starting to develop this model into an inbound tactic rather than just for informative purposes.

The program includes a panel of experts who write about recommended products within their niche. Amazon is said to be in search of how to best integrate these list-style articles into the shopping experience. Writers include both notable individuals and brands — Bob Vila, home style blogger Laura Trevey, Amazon shop Canopy, interior design resource Remodelista, just to name a few.

Curated content obviously poses a value to online shoppers who are looking to get more information or a new perspective from an expert who understands that market. But is it more advantageous for Amazon? They’ve made their buck on retargeting and now it looks as if they are traveling into uncharted waters with native ad retargeting.

Learning what you like by way of what you read.

Native content has been touched upon by other brands, successfully with Thrillist and Conde Naste, but not as successful with others. Though Amazon’s expertise when it comes to data could bring a whole new aspect to the “native” trend.

Native ad retargeting has yet to be explored. Data from native content is usually used to understand the masses, not individuals, until now. Expert Articles from Amazon is bringing editorial to help sell products through a different experience. Retargeting consumers from their reading choices and routing them to said products could change the landscape of e-commerce.

Aligns Writers with a Brand

The usual progression of an online shopper tends to transition from a customer evaluating a product, then going to search for an expert’s input before purchase. Though Amazon’s introduction of content seems as if it could flip that transgression.

Expert Articles presents a way where content can in fact lead to the purchase of products. To me, this is a step beyond native ads because the ability to purchase is possible on the same platform.

Stephen Crowley, a designer at Amazon, says, “It was important for us to share the uniqueness Amazon brings with its products and information.”

At the same time, we can’t ignore the value proposition for the experts involved. They are positioning themselves in alignment with popular brands, in front of a global audience.

Currently, this content doesn’t appear on product pages, but rather associated with certain verticals on Amazon. Though the program is still in it’s early stages as far as author and content promotion. Amazon will prove to become an amazing platform to scale a writer’s audience because of their massive reach and association with recognizable brands at the point of purchase.

Marketing product through content is an approach that Amazon could revolutionize. To the consumer, they can seek a place of refuge in learning. Rather than being sold a product, they can easily review an experts opinion and possibly help them find products they didn’t know they were in search of. Associating content within the buyer’s experience also seems as if it could scale these experts towards a more global audience. But the biggest win may point in the direction of the marketing industry. Amazon’s use of big data has been immensely successful as far as digital advertising and that method could now transfer over to native ad retargeting.

In 2011, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos spoke in reference to his growing powerhouse, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.” The introduction of Expert Articles seems to be right in-line with that ideology and could drastically change the buying and product marketing experience.

This article reached over 49,000 views on LinkedIn.

 

Bando Grows to Over 1k Users in 60 Days with No Funding (UPDATE)

Bando, the iOS and Android mobile app developed solely by my co-founder and I — has just reached over 1,000 users in just a two month’s time without any money put behind the product.

Bando is the Flipboard for the urban culture. Bando brings real-time news for the urban culture from the top sources allowing users to get premium content first, save articles for later, or view our social media feed connected with Instagram and Twitter’s API.

We built the app ourselves without any funding and we’ve created a community where thousands of users are on Bando for over 2 hours a day. Bando users see, on avg., 6 screens/session and we’ve acquired an avg. of 20 users per day!

My goal with Bando was to create an extraordinary user experience within this niche so that our users would become inherent ambassadors of the app. I put a great deal of focus into establishing quality content, exposure through different growth hacking methods, and making our app easy to find for new users.

Learn more about Bando below: 

NEW VERSION IG AD

 

How to Grow Your Startup with No Connections to Capital (ARTICLE)

The road of travel from your startup’s inception into the glorious exits that we drool to become one day can be a confusing journey. There’s an array of elements your business has to encompass — let alone accomplish — to reach such a status. But in between the two polars is what we all like to generally refer to as funding, metaphorically, I like to reference as the grey area.

But more often than not, you’re not in the 5%. You have the idea but you need the resources to build the product. Or you’ve been skillful enough to create the product but in order to scale you need — you guessed it, the funding. All roads carry that dependent variable, regardless of if the seed comes from family and friends, early VCs or like options. The pool of good ideas are all going to need the backing sooner or later but when your network doesn’t present such a route, the effort put into your business often gears more towards gaining exposure during the early stages.

After working with a few fully funded startups and in route to expanding my second mobile app startup Bando, my co-founder and I have focused on establishing a core audience and charting traction from day one of our beta program. Bando is the flipboard for the urban culture and in just two months we’ve seen over 1000 organic users who are on the Bando app for over 2 hours a day.

 

Our iOS version released in early September and since then we’ve seen gradual growth in all metrics, the graph here shows our daily sessions for Apple users.

Though our numbers aren’t mind blowing, we’ve seen daily traction and built an impressive MVP without a lick of funding and those data points and intangibles alone have attracted VC attention.

Based on my experience, here’s a few ways to consider when seeking funding without any connections to capital:

Utilize your Online Outlets

The journey between good ideas and funding is becoming more of a recognizable issue but there are a couple platforms have stepped up to bridge the gap. Sites like Angel.co create a great way to set up a digital portfolio that organizes how to appropriately present yourself to investors.

Angel.co does a great job highlighting the important things that usually lead startups to funding, within an active community of other startups, entrepreneurs, and investors. It’s easy to identify individual VCs as well as accelerators or investment firms that may be interested in your business.

Venture Fund is another platform on the rise that has the same kind of focus except it allows you to connect your data so investors can see your daily growth. Focus on the right wording and metrics to focus on when approaching these two platforms so that it’s easier for outside parties to see your value.

Reach out to Alumni

Inevitably, the best way to reach a grab a VCs attention is through an introduction from someone they trust and respect and what better way to connect with those accomplished individuals than through your alumni network.

Reach out to alumni within your industry or professionals who have a network that could be of use to you. Sometimes this will require cold outreach but if you can establish common ground through your university then speaking about your product or service will be a much smoother transition. Using LinkedIn is a great way to find applicable alumni or pursue contacts via email.


Make a Name

Investors have quoted to me that they’ve seen thousands on thousands of pitch decks per year and one can see how that becomes diluted. What’s going to set you apart from the crowd? That’s the name of the game right? That one element that gives your business the competitive advantage is your job to identify and ultimately exemplify.

Without much capital it’s tough to scale a startup but if are able to somewhat establish yourself within a given industry then interested investors will find you. Focusing on organic growth could give you the opportunity to monetize early on.

Creating an organic following in any industry has always been a dependable route because even without funding, you can begin to monetize through the audience you’ve established.

Many times good ideas are stuck on an island where they need funding to produce any type of MVP, marketing for initial users and other intangibles needed for an early phase startup. But if you can create a functioning product and focus on a few metrics to develop steady traction upon then it’s inevitably easier for VCs to see the opportunity for revenue.

The seed round is always the hardest but doing the intangibles that matter is a necessity when you’re seeking funding without many connections to capital.

3 Professional Networks You Need to Know About (ARTICLE)

Maneuvering social media is much more than fitting a thought into 140 characters. Not only have the more mainstream platforms made a major push toward opening their advertising capabilities, but social networks centered on business are prominent in their own right.

From consumers looking for a direct connection with their industry peers to the startups looking to make a name for themselves, we’ve got you covered. We compiled a list of the top professional networks you might not be aware of. These sites are must join for informative content, and direct networking opportunities.

Angel.Co

Angel-Co

Angel.co is a social discovery platform for start-ups and investors. Forbes describes the site as, “an online matching-making site for startups and angel investors.” Thisoutlet was designed for start-ups looking to communicate with potential investors and other businesses within their industry.  The platform offers a number of benefits for all users regardless of your intent.

Every business completes a company profile with a team roster, company summary, past investors (if any), the level of investment sought, and other relevant information. Not only does this help new companies organize and structure their approach toward that someday glorious IPO, but it helps everyday users gain a great deal of insight.

Look at any Angel.co profile and you’ll find the profiles of their founders so you can take a deeper look into their resumés. You discover which ideas and companies are doing well in the website’s “trending” category.

Above all, you have the ability to connect with these people. Don’t be afraid to ask companies how they’ve reached their past milestones or business-minded questions, e.g., current marketing strategies. Angel.co is a great platform to learn about this growing market, but you also can use it as a tool to network.

CrunchBase

CrunchBase

CrunchBase.com is like Twitter for business investments. Similar to Angel.co, CrunchBase allows companies to create a company profile. The difference lies in CrunchBase’s live investment ticker.

The website’s ticker, or newsfeed, lists the most notable investments of the day. From Series A funding to the fifth round of a startup that has been around for a decade, you’ll find it here. CrunchBase is always rolling out new updates that cater to their audience, and you can learn about their newest features here.

Use this platform to learn about the pioneers in your areas of interest, but don’t forget to connect with others! You may meet your next boss, or the person who introduces you to your next boss.

Quora

Quora

Quora is a prominent question-and-answer community involving many well-respected industry experts. Users create and post questions, often those without definite or quantifiable answers.

Your questions are then associated with any relevant communities you choose. Most communities have thousands of members who all engage with questions posted on their community feed.

Most importantly, Quora gives users a place to learn from the educated answers of other members because the site houses a very intelligent audience. Soon enough you’ll answer enough questions to start building up your own profile.

Publishedhttp://www.skilledup.com/articles/3-professional-networks-know-4

Millennial Activism — A Look Into America’s Current State (ARTICLE)

America’s scouting report of recent has been a land of hills and valleys to say the least. We’re all well aware of the domestic issues at hand because every uproar comes with a hashtag in today’s day and age.

As a nation we’ve had to endure the terrorist acts of the Charleston shooting but we’ve also been able to relevate in the Supreme Court’s decision to declare same sex marriage as a constitutional right. The Supreme Court also worked to keep Obama Care alive.

As the Supreme Court continues to work for nationwide changes amongst all age groups and communities, our efforts from a millennial’s perspective consists of social media enthusiasm.

Times haven’t changed, publicity has. As a result my greatest fear is that we continue to confuse activism with socialization. The media has made it seemingly instant to turn a handful of witnesses into hundreds of thousands of innocent digital bystanders. But above all, the most troubling thought I’ve come across is – why is tragedy the real trigger behind love?

It seems as if we only see true unity after Dylann Roof’s moves towards separation. Before Bree Newsome’s spidey senses, retail stores only teetered on the idea of removing the Confederate Flag off of their online stores (where Nazi related items are still sold).

Black Lives Matter Black Friday

Prior to these events, our sense of urgency only extended as far as our keyboards would allow us for the most part. That Instagram post is the new protest poster and that tweet made is usually the degree of our personal contributions towards the bigger difference.

What change does social network activism really evoke? There’s no doubt that awareness is brought to these situations that need to be brought to light, but often that awareness substitutes action. We’re quick to assume someone else is making the needed change or that we aren’t enough to spur the change ourselves.

As you can see I didn’t dive into the depth of the troubling racial/social instances that have engulfed our country this year. I’m more focused on how we as the people can work together to preach pro-activism rather than action in hindsight.

Maybe these words will push the next person to make the change that we need to build systems in our nation that promote a more positive lifestyle for all. Or maybe these words will simply be appreciated for what they are and then brushed off. Either way, we can all agree that millennials have influence in numbers, but can we use it to make CHANGE rather than CHATTER.

 

Publishedhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-williams-ii/millennial-activism_b_7686964.html

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