Got That?  The Complex Story of African Mammal Evolution

first_imgThe article by Jean-Jacques Jaeger in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1 is pretty upbeat about the evolutionary history of African mammals, but takes a bit of untangling to follow.    He begins confidently, “For some 40 million years, the Afro-Arabian landmass existed in splendid isolation.  A newly described fossil fauna from the end of that time provides a window on the evolution of the continent’s large mammals.”  (He refers to a fossil group named the Chilga biota, found in the Ethiopian highlands by Kappelman et al., described in the same issue.2)  Let’s take a look out said window and see how evolution has unfolded:During most of the Cenozoic era, from the Cretaceous�Tertiary boundary 65 million years ago until roughly 24 million years ago, Afro-Arabia was an island continent drifting steadily northwards towards Eurasia.  Fossil mammals documenting this period are scarce and belong almost exclusively to endemic forms restricted to Afro-Arabia, such as proboscideans, hyraxes and elephant-shrews.  But by around 24 million years ago, a permanent land bridge had formed between the two landmasses.  A burst of faunal interchange followed: many Eurasian mammals, such as rhinos and ruminants, dispersed into Africa, and some Afro-Arabian mammals, such as elephants, migrated in the opposite direction.  (Emphasis added in all quotations.)That forms the plot line, but there are problems.  The Chilga specimens he describes seem to fit the story, but there are puzzles among the bones:Among the proboscideans recorded are primitive forms such as Palaeomastodon and Phiomia (also known from older deposits in Egypt).  But there are also representatives of modern families, for example taxa such as Gomphotherium, the earliest proboscidean on the branch leading to extant elephants.  Another surprise is the oldest occurrence of deinotheres, peculiar proboscideans with downward-curved lower tusks, which were previously recorded only from rocks younger than 24 million years old.  The new species of deinothere displays molars that are more ‘bunodont’ in form (that is, made of several distinct cusplets arranged in transverse crests) than its descendant, whose molars display plain transverse crests.  This discovery seems to rule out the possibility that deinotheres are derived from an ancestor bearing plain, transverse-crested molars, as was formerly supposed, and provides new evidence about proboscidean evolution.Jaeger bemoans the scarcity of the fossil record for this period, but claims, “Nonetheless, considerable information has been inferred from the evidence we do have.”  He talks about how systematists have grouped the African fauna into a superorder Afrotheria based on fossil and molecular evidence.  Though “African mammalian faunas are dominated by these endemic forms,” a few other groups did get over to the big island somehow, including our alleged remote ancestors, the catarrhine primates, fathers of hominoids.  These “newcomers” went through “rapid evolution” on the landmass, he claims.    Even though the Chilga fossils are supposed to pre-date the land bridge, Jaeger says, “The Chilga mammals also yield insights into the dynamics of the faunal interchange between Afro-Arabia and Eurasia.”  How is that possible?  By seeing what pre-existed before the interchange, he feels it is possible to document that “the ensuing ecological competition ended with winners and losers.”  I.e., some animals were destined to fall in numbers, others to multiply and diversify.    The Chilga fossils do leave a few research items for paleontologists:Finally, the discoveries of Kappelman et al. highlight two other palaeobiological issues.  First, on northern continents glaciation caused a significant cooling around 33 million years ago, which resulted in numerous extinctions among mammalian communities.  From these new data, however, it seems that large Afro-Arabian herbivores were not affected, either at that time or later, implying that the climatic changes were less severe on southern continents.  Second, the fossil record of the Afro-Arabian continent is not only scanty but also largely concentrated on the northern edge.  This has led to the proposal that other groups of mammals existed in Afro-Arabia during its period of isolation, but that they were restricted to more southern latitudes.  However, the Chilga mammal community is rather like that found at Fayum in Egypt, which is some five million years older, providing hints that there was little provinciality among Afro-Arabian mammals at that time.  As yet, though, we have unveiled only a few of the secrets of mammal evolution on the Afro-Arabian continent.  Many more surprising discoveries are to be expected.Got that?1Jean-Jacques Jaeger, “Mammalian evolution: Isolationist tendencies,” Nature 426, 509 – 511 (04 December 2003); doi:10.1038/426509a.2Kappelman et al., “Oligocene mammals from Ethiopia and faunal exchange between Afro-Arabia and Eurasia,” Nature 426, 549 – 552 (04 December 2003); doi:10.1038/nature02102.Our policy before commenting on a paper is to approach it with an open mind as much as possible, and give the author the benefit of the doubt.  We give the author or authors their day in court, and begin with the premise innocent till proven guilty.  But we also want to see hard data that support any conclusions, and the conclusions must survive the Baloney Detector to be granted any credibility or respect.  Bluffing is a big turn-off.    With that in mind, not much survived in this paper.  Jaeger sounds very confident that evolutionists are very well on the way to understanding mammal evolution; it’s just a matter of time, cleaning up a few remaining puzzles.  His position is typical of evolutionists.  The story only makes sense to someone already convinced evolution is true.  The puzzles outnumber the confirmations, but since non-evolutionary alternatives are disallowed from the outset, no amount of negative data can ever falsify their claim that all animals have bacteria ancestors.    How Jaeger can keep from biting his fingernails at the sheer number of puzzles is the real puzzle.  With your critical, open-minded eye, consider his confessions of these non-evolutionary observations:The fossil record is scanty.Known fossils are restricted to isolated locales on the northern periphery of Africa.“Modern” representatives are mixed in with alleged “primitive” specimens, even though the Afrotheria were supposedly isolated from Europe and Asia for millions of years and had plenty of time and space to evolve all they wanted.The teeth of the deinotheres evolved from complex to simple, not the other way around.Some critters managed to get to Africa, while others remained isolated.  Was there some kind of discriminatory ferry system operating?After the land bridge formed, there were winners and losers, but no way to predict according to evolutionary theory who would win or lose.A long global ice age seemed to have no effect on the Afrotheria.There was little provinciality among African mammals (i.e., geographic isolation; the animals were free to roam widely), yet fossils are rare in the interior.    Anyone see evolution here?  From just a few bones, at a few locations on the northern edge of the huge continent of Africa, Jaeger proceeds to weave a magical mystery tale out of thin air (and hot, spinning air at that).  He daydreams about floating continents, selective weather, selective migrations, selective fossilizations, selective winners and losers, and land bridges that both increase and decrease the evolutionary adaptations of immigrants.  Almost every observation is counter to what was previously believed.  Nowhere does the reader see any hard evidence of transitional forms.  The only solid evidence points to are dead things; remnants of advanced, complex, large, healthy, well-adapted mammals.  The dates are part of the myth; they are made up, based on methods that depend for their validity on evolutionary assumptions and wild extrapolations into the unobservable past.    In a courtroom, the attorneys have the opportunity to give an opening statement.  These are usually overconfident claims that the facts of the case are going to prove their side.  But then, witnesses have to submit to cross-examination on matters of fact, and the attorneys are prevented from spin doctoring, asking leading questions, or going beyond the evidence.  Unfortunately, the news media often take the opening statement of the Darwinist lawyer at face value and parrot it uncritically to their readers.  Here at Creation-Evolution Headlines, we feel our readers deserve to watch a fair trial.  Jaeger is charged with five counts: doctoring evidence, manufacturing just-so stories, refusing to consider nonevolutionary alternatives, making inferences beyond what scientific caution would allow, and assuming what needs to be proved.  We have swept away the storytelling elements and stared at the evidence, and have reached our conclusion.  Guilty, your honor.    For more examples of evolutionary storytelling contrary to hard evidence, see these other recent headlines on supposed mammal evolution: 12/12/03 on marsupials, 11/17/03 on Smithsonian’s Mammal Hall, 10/30/03 on cave packrats, 10/13/03 on monkey color vision, 07/16/03 on development, 11/22/02 on dogs, 11/01/03 on placentas, 06/04/02 on tooth evolution, and especially 03/18/03, National Geographic’s embarrassing April 2003 cover story on “the rise of mammals,” and the PNAS hall of shame from 05/28/02.  For that matter, how about the next headline below? 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Tau Ceti a Star for Life to Avoid

first_imgTau Ceti, a star with a dust disk astronomers had hoped might be an example of a planetary system under construction, is more like a war zone.  A press release from the Royal Observatory calls it “Asteroid Alley – an Inhospitable Neighbor.”  Using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, the astronomers detected 10 times the quantity of asteroids and comets as around our sun.  Jane Greaves, the lead scientist, explained the implications of this finding: “We don’t yet know whether there are any planets orbiting Tau Ceti, but if there are, it is likely that they will experience constant bombardment from asteroids of the kind that is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.  It is likely that with so many large impacts life would not have the opportunity to evolve.”    The press release says, “The discovery means that scientists are going to have to rethink where they look for civilisations outside our Solar System.”  Another astronomer suggests that our solar system may have been swept clean of impactors by a passing star.  Whatever the reason for the difference, Tau Ceti is “clearly a place you would not wish to be,” concludes Ian Holliday, Chief Executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.Evolution: always assumed, never demonstrated.  Dinosaur extinction via impact: a media mythoid that persists despite falsifying evidence (see 12/03/2003 and 06/02/2003 headlines).    Tau Ceti was the darling of astrobiologists who assumed its dust disk was evidence of an evolving solar system similar to ours.  Now chalk up another tally for the Privileged Planet hypothesis (see 06/24/2004 headline).  Even so, these measurements are too indirect to know for sure what it’s like out there at the Whale, without Han Solo to drive us through Asteroid Alley.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Does Evolution Need a Helping Hand?

first_imgNew Scientist didn’t think about that question, because reporter Ewen Galloway he said, “If humans want to persuade microbes to produce vast quantities of fuels or pharmaceuticals, we may need to give evolution a helping hand.”    His article was about researchers at Harvard Medical School using computers to do “rapid evolution.”  How this can be called evolution is strange when they spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars on a rapid genome-sequencing technique called MAGE – “multiplex automated genome engineering.”  One would think any engineers would like to hear that their work was intelligently designed, but then if an intelligent designer oversaw their evolution, would not the NCSE complain?  Anyway, they can “create hundreds or thousands of mutations in a few days” and search through them for variations that increase the production of desirable substances.    Presumably they use the term evolution because it has something to do with mutations and selection.  But the selectors are humans who have an outcome in mind, even if they don’t know the way to get there except through a speeded-up random search.  “There might be cells out there that may have these properties, but what we’re trying to do is accelerate this process to find the specific traits we’re interested in,” a team member explained. Folks, we’re not laughing loud enough yet.  They still say these things in public.  Enough laughter should make it dawn on them that these silly statements are self-refuting nonsense.  It is not a loving thing to leave them clueless.  So show them some tough love: laugh loud and long.(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South Africa’s next Oscars entry revealed

first_img23 September 2015 The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has named the indie drama Thina Sobabili (The Two of Us) as South Africa’s entry into the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. The announcement came on Monday, 21 September.The movie, from first-time filmmaker Ernest Nkosi, is set in Joburg’s northeastern township of Alexandra. Its gritty plot follows the story of two siblings, Zanele and Thulani, who try to escape tragedy and poverty, and build a life together.But things are not easy for them. Along the way, Zanele starts an affair with an older “sugar daddy” and it strains her relationship with her overprotective brother, Thulani, who is also her guardian.Watch the trailer here:The movie has an all local cast. Emmanuel Nkosinathi Gweva played Thulani and Busisiwe Mtshali took the role of Zanele.Previous accoladesThe movie has already made an impression. It won the Audience Choice awards at two film festivals: the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the 2015 Jozi Film Festival.It was also named Best Feature Film at the 2015 Rwanda Film Festival and made the cut for a screening at the 2015 Urbanworld Film Festival, taking place in New York City from 23 to 27 September.“It also enjoyed some success at the local box office, coming in at eighth position at the South African box office on the weekend of its theatrical release in July – the only independent film to make the top 10,” said the Gauteng Film Commission.The OscarsIf Thina Sobabili does get the nomination nod, it’ll join the ranks of other South African entries Yesterday, which was nominated in 2004, and the 2006 Oscar winner, Tsotsi.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will only announce the nominations for the 2016 Oscars on 14 January. The awards ceremony will take place on 28 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.Of course! So proud of the #ThinaSobabili team! Y’all r already winners:) https://t.co/TLsRBoJCe0— Vuyiswa Mutshekwane(@VieArem) September 22, 2015#ThinaSobabili is a really good movie. I hope they get that Oscar Nomination — Lesedi (@Lesedi_S)September 22, 2015SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Why are we hog wild over bacon?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest While growing up my brothers and I had a running joke that, when asked how much bacon we wanted, we would answer, “Yes.” The idea was that whatever amount of bacon that was available is the amount that we wanted. The Reese brothers (and our father) REALLY enjoyed bacon growing up, and still do. Apparently, we had cutting edge culinary tastes, because bacon has since become quite trendy.“Bacon is hip. It’s cool. It is kind of the Band-Aid of the kitchen. If you burn a roast, you wrap it in bacon and you’re good to go. Bacon just works. It is a super food in terms of how it can be utilized,” said Quinton Keeran, bacon fan extraordinaire. “I’m a backyard BBQ warrior kind of a guy and I have yet to make one thing that I couldn’t improve vastly by wrapping it in bacon.”Keeran has, to some degree, built a fair portion of his professional career in Ohio agriculture around bacon.“I’ve got a unique experience being a professional in social media in agricultural and I spend a good bit of my time talking with consumers and learning and connecting to build online relationships. I spent about six years at the Ohio Pork Council where we built a Facebook following of about 300,000 people based on the premise of building relationships and having conversations about food and where it comes from. Bacon was an integral part of that. We wanted to talk to people about what they really enjoy and bacon was a key,” Keeran said. “I have since moved on and work with clients in agriculture around the country with FLM+ telling the story of how food is grown and raised. Bacon has certainly been at the forefront of several initiatives and campaigns. It is all about connecting with people and talking about what they care about. People have such a nostalgic, emotional connection with bacon. We can all remember waking up and smelling bacon in the frying pan and that is how you start your day. It is going to be a good day after that because bacon is the fuel for positive energy in my opinion.”Bacon’s meteoric rise as a food juggernaut has not gone unnoticed by Nick Dekker, a.k.a. “Dr. Breakfast.” Dekker authors the popular blog “Breakfast with Nick,” primarily focuses on breakfast haunts in and around Columbus.“There are always multiple trends happening all at once. Bacon seems like it is a long-running trend but in the past five or seven years it became really trendy. Every generation looks to have fun with certain foods or dishes and bacon is something you can do all sorts of fun and crafty things with,” Dekker said. “From what I’ve seen, bacon is showing up on all sorts of menus, so clearly restaurants are seeing a demand and catering to it. You still see fun, trendy things like crumbled bacon on doughnuts. One of the best sellers at Buckeye Doughnuts in Columbus is the maple bacon. People still go nuts for that. People will whip out their cameras take a picture and buy a dozen of them.”Dekker speculates that there are several reasons behind the incredible popularity of bacon. First, there has been an increase in the popularity of dining out early in the day, which boosts bacon sales.“Breakfast, and in particular brunch, is becoming more popular and bacon is a mainstay,” Dekker said.But, it seems the popularity of bacon cannot be contained to just the a.m. hours, after all, Dr. Breakfast cannot live on just one meal day. Fortunately, he can find one of his favorite breakfast staples in dishes better suited for later in the day.“One of my personal favorites is at Katalina’s — a trendy quirky place in Columbus with really good food. One of their features is a sweet and spicy bacon, which they rub with brown sugar and something spicy, maybe Cayenne or Jalapeno. It is a sweet sticky mess, but it is great with nice thick slices of bacon,” Dekker said. “I have had a couple of bacon ice creams, some really bad. There is one that is really good, though, at a Jewish-style food truck in Columbus called Challah. They have lamb bacon that is really good and bacon ice cream that is just fantastic. It is sweet ice cream that is a little bit salty from the little pieces of crumbled bacon. You think, ‘Oh I don’t know if that works,’ but then you taste it and ‘Yep.’”Bacon also fits into a larger trend of broad protein popularity.“We’re all protein crazy right now, and that includes bacon. Kale is another one of those things that is high in protein and has a very specific flavor that you can do a lot of stuff with. You can throw it on burgers, you can add it to a salad you can blend it in smoothies,” Dekker said. “Quinoa is another one right now that is popular.”Another reason for the bacon boom is that, when compared to fellow breakfast meat sausage, bacon has some inherent advantages.“Bacon is a distinctly pork product while sausage can be a combination of meats and it can be made different ways. You could get three different kinds of sausage or you can get bacon. You never know what you’ll get with sausage but typically you know what you’re getting with bacon,” Dekker said. “No matter what they do to it, it is still going to be awesome bacon.”In addition, bacon is highly adaptable to changing consumer trends.“Consumers have really changed in the past 10 years or so. Food culture has changed. Think about how many restaurants this generation of consumers goes to compared to previous generations. Now we have the Food Network and the Travel Channel that have made food into entertainment. And we have phones that we can take out to take a picture of every meal,” Dekker said. “Bacon is fun to look at and fun to feature.”The other day, like generations of Reeses before me, I was whipping up some delicious breakfast. I asked my son how much bacon he wanted. His reply: “Do we have any sausage?”I nearly dropped my spatula. I guess the times may be changing. “Oh, well,” I thought to myself while browning some sausage links, “at least he didn’t ask for kale.”last_img read more

Spurt in number oflocals joining militancy

first_imgOver 100 local youths have joined various terror outfits in J&K this year, the highest since 2010, with a majority of them affiliating themselves to groups ideologically aligned with the Al-Qaeda, officials said here. According to data compiled till July 31, as many as 131 youths have joined various terror outfits with south Kashmir’s Shopian district contributing the maximum of 35 so far. The number of local recruits last year was 126.The officials said that many youngsters are joining the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group which claims the support of Al-Qaeda and is headed by Zaqir Rashid Bhat alias Zaqir Musa, who hails from a village in the Tral area of Pulwama district. The acceptance of this group is steadily increasing. as Musa emerged as the only militant who ended the 27-year-old show of separatists leaders from Hurriyat Conference and threatened them of beheading if they termed Kashmir as a political issue. Musa’s slogan of “Shariyat ya Shahadat” (Enforcing Islamic law or death) has replaced many age-old pro-Pakistan slogans, feel the officials who have been monitoring the security situation in the Kashmir Valley. The 24-year-old engineering college drop-out has been able to capture the imagination of youths, especially after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016. He was good at studies as well as sports and had represented the state in inter-state carom championship, recalls a senior police official, adding this is one of the reasons that he has started emerging as a hero to many youths in the Valley. Believed to have been influenced by Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemini-American preacher killed by allied forces attack in Afghanistan in September 2011, Musa has been mainly focussing on recruitment for his outfit and brainwashing the youths to pick up arms. Awlaki too was considered the brain behind recruitment for Al-Qaeda. His motivational skills left terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba also in a fix when he was able to draw Abu Dujana into his group, the officials said. Abu Dujana was killed killed. Though the Jammu and Kashmir Police has time and again termed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind as a non-starter in the valley, the growing popularity and graffiti of his name and slogans have taken maximum spaces of towns and villages. ISJK, an affiliate of the banned ISIS, was also a source of attraction for youths but after the killing of its chief Dawood Sofi, the group does not find many takers. The officials of security agencies said the highly-volatile South Kashmir comprising Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Awantipora districts continued to contribute more youths to the militant groups and together these five districts have contributed over 100 youthts to various terror groups operating in the Kashmir Valley. This year’s figures were the highest since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state assembly and Parliament. There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the valley since 2014 onwards as compared to the period from 2010 to 2013 when the figure stood at 54, 23, 21 and 6 respectively. In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 before touching the highest mark of 88 in 2016, the data showed.last_img read more

Interview With Copyblogger Founder, Brian Clark

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Blogging Topics: Originally published Jul 16, 2009 11:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Brian Clark is the founder of Copyblogger, a blog about using copywriting and social media for online marketing.  It now has over 60,000 subscribers and is ranked as a top blog on Advertising Age and Technorati.1. How did Copyblogger get started? What made you think a blog about copywriting would be so successful?I didn’t think a blog about copywriting would be successful, but I did think a blog about the intersection of copywriting and blogging might have a shot. Put another way, it’s the intersection of content and marketing, and I had been using online content marketing since 1999 to sell everything from professional services to software. Now the term “content marketing” has come into vogue, and that’s what Copyblogger has really always been about. 2. What are the three most important things you’ve done to help you build your blog — to build subscriptions, inbound links, and recommendations from other bloggers?1. Great content that is designed to spread.2. An understanding of how social media works and changes.3. Real relationships with those who can help get the word out. 3. How should bloggers balance the desire for a broad audience with the need to focus on a specific topic? Too specific, and your audience is limited; too broad, and you’ll have few original insights to offer.It’s true that being too specific can hurt you, but only in the extreme. A strong focused niche audience will prove more valuable than a general unfocused audience of larger size. One shouldn’t water things down as far as subject matter or personality just to attract a larger audience.4. Marketers are very concerned with the quality of the traffic on their site. What can you do as a business blogger to make sure you have quality traffic?Stay on topic. Find a way to make your content sexy AND on point rather than going off track to attract traffic that is ultimately worthless.5. Many bloggers deliberately post controversial opinions in order to gain attention. Is this a good strategy for a small business blogger?I think positioning yourself so that some will love you and others will ignore you or even dislike you is smart. If you stand for something strongly, that will naturally happen. And if you do that, you don’t have to purposefully be controversial. Often bloggers attract the wrong kind of audience when they purposefully try to be controversial in an opportunistic way. Stand for what you beleive in and don’t back down, and things will naturally happen without being ugly. 6. Business bloggers need to get value out of their blog. What’s the best way to get this value — and to measure it?Sell something and count how much money you make. 😉 7. What are your favorite business blogs? Why?Seth Godin – Always thought provoking ideas about smart marketing.http://sethgodin.typepad.com/Chris Brogan – For a popular business blogger, he has an amazing “beginner’s mind” that allows for any and all possibilities.http://www.chrisbrogan.com/Michel Fortin – Just a damn good copywriter who also seems to get social media.http://www.michelfortin.com/SEO Book – Aaron Wall is an SEO ninja, but he also understands that ranking well in search engines is a function of strong marketing and an understanding of human psychology.http://www.seobook.com/Louis Gray – For those who can’t deal with the noise from Tech Crunch et al, Louis tells you what’s important about Web 2.0 and new tech.http://www.louisgray.com/live/ 8. What do you read online regularly?See above. The rest of the time I’m reading books. And often, they have nothing to do with marketing or business. That’s where my best ideas come from.Webinar: Blogging for Business Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website?Download the free webinar to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog.last_img read more

Interview with Todd Defren, Principal at SHIFT Communications

first_imgTodd Defren is a principal at SHIFT Communications, author of the blog PR-Squared, and co-founder of the Social Media Club. He has been a major player in the PR industry’s transition into the PR 2.0 era and will be giving a live webinar tomorrow at 1PM ET as part of Inbound Marketing University. 1. As social media has evolved in the past five years, how has SHIFT adapted its PR strategy to the new applications and media outlets?  The entire industry has changed in the past five years.  Whereas the Social Media News Release felt like it was an innovation a few years ago, now it is just one of many tools and technologies.  I’d like to think we have gone further than most in trying to adapt our policies and practices.  It’s a constant challenge to stay ahead of the curve.  2. What have been the biggest challenges with PR 2.0?   While the technologies have largely been free (for the most part), the level of noise has gotten exponentially louder and the number of people that we need to potentially reach out to has gotten exponentially larger.  The amount of work has gotten much larger. You used to have a list of the top 50 mainstream reporters and analysts for the industry your client was in.  Now you have to add to that 50 Facebook group administrators and the 5,000 people on Twitter who might be appropriate for any given client.  It’s just as much about the edgework with end users as it is with those top 50 mainstream reporters.  3.  What is the best way to increase your visibility if you are a small business and do not already have an established brand on the internet? Provide relevant content to the right people in the right channels and do it everyday, as often as possible.  4.  At HubSpot, we teach readers that creating remarkable content to market their products and services will draw people into their websites.  What are ways to reach different audiences with this content once it is out there?     It’s not rocket science.  It takes not just the daily focus on content creation and promotion, but a daily focus on engagement in the right communities.  You can’t look at this as a marketer who is all about broadcasting content.  You have got to look at it as a marketer who is all about adding value.  While some of that value is going to come from your own content, it can’t exclusively come from your content or you’ll be pretty quickly sussed out as somebody who is only in this for themselves.  The in it for yourself mentality may be what you think is going to help pay the mortgage this month, but it’s not going to create long-term relationships that you can count on for longer term revenue potential. 5.  A lot of businesses struggle with the decision of charging for resources or giving them away for free.  You recently launched a new feature for Twitter, clickablenow, and decided to change from charging for it to giving it away for free. What factors influenced your decision to offer the application for free?  What did you learn from this and how has it performed since you made the change?  We had some internal debate over whether or not we should charge for clickablenow.  From the beginning, we agreed that we would listen to the community.  If we found feedback that free was the better way to go, we wouldn’t be surprised by it and we would react quickly. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea but everyone balked at the 20 bucks.  We dropped the 20 bucks and the overall usage went way up.      6. Can you describe a PR campaign in social media that has done surprisingly well in the past year?  Why and how did it become so successful? One of the things we are proud of at SHIFT was our work with H&R Block.  We worked with them for the 2009 tax season.  We were proud to help a big, established brand like H&R Block refine its approach to social media.  Whereas before they had gotten a lot of credit for experimenting across many different social media channels.  We did some hardcore research to find out which were the most appropriate and impactful social media channels.  We encouraged them to get out of SecondLife and, for the first time, to respond directly to users who are looking for free tax advice on Amazon.com and Yahoo! Answers.  This combination resulted in their tax-cut product becoming #1 in the market segment for tax-cut software over TurboTax for the first time, which was a big milestone for them.  It proved to us that a smart approach to social media that is relevant, responsive and diplomatic can absolutely help your business.   If you want to learn more about PR 2.0, register for Defren’s live webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11 at 1 PM ET.     Free Inbound Marketing University Online Training ProgramDownload HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University online training programIMU includes 11 free webinar classes and notesheets. The program drills into each component of inbound marketing and prepares you for the Inbound Marketing certification exam. Originally published Aug 10, 2009 12:49:00 PM, updated October 01 2019 Don’t forget to share this post! 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Executive Summary: A CEO’s Guide to Online Marketing

first_img Marketing in any organization serves many functions, but as a CEO, you should be concerned with a few key performance indicators (KPIs) from your marketing team including lead generation, lead quality and cost of customer acquisition. 5. Social Media Marketing Think about your key business assets. You likely think of people and equipment, but in the age of online marketing, the database is a critical business asset. The most important lesson you can take from this article is that online marketing is not only about marketing; it is about gathering, analyzing and leveraging data to improve all aspects of your business. Your customer, lead and prospect database are the lifeline of your business and should be protected and integrated into business functions outside of marketing, including customer service and product development. The internet provides businesses with more data and information than ever before, and it is the companies that understand how to best harness the power of this data that will out-perform their competition in the coming years. Major Components of Online Marketing Marketing is Making Business More Data Driven   from Take a look at this short presentation and video for data that supports the success and growth of online marketing. Hiring Needs to Change HubSpot Internet Marketing HubSpot – Blogging is a multi-purpose tool for businesses. It is a simple way to post interesting information about your industry and your business and collect comments from customers and prospects. When thinking about a business blog, you should make sure it reads like a great trade magazine, not an advertisement. Business blogs help businesses develop thought leadership, drive leads, improve search engine rankings and generate inbound links. Online Marketing Data: . If you found this introduction helpful, I recommend checking out Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Additional Resources – When you search for keywords in a search engine, the links you see on the right hand side and at the top-most part of the page are paid, or sponsored results. Search engines charge businesses every time a person clicks a paid link to visit a business website.  Because of this pricing, it is important to have a marketing team that is skilled at lead conversion from PPC. This will help reduce lead and customer acquisition costs. 1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) presentations – SEO refers to the process of improving your website to drive more and better quality traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. SEO has two main parts. One is on-page optimization, which is about making it easier for search engines to find and index your business website. The second part involves building authority online by working with other sites to increase the number of links that point back to your own business website, which influences how you are ranked by search engines. Marketing Strategy Over 50 Marketing Charts and Graphscenter_img , has many moving pieces.  But as a CEO, you don’t need to get caught up in the details of your company’s online marketing efforts. Instead, it is your job to understand how the costs, results and data surrounding online marketing impact the overall health and performance of your business. As a busy CEO, you likely don’t have much time. Because of this, we have condensed the important elements of online marketing into a brief executive summary. If you are reading this and are not an executive, I encourage you to share it with the executive team in your organization. Online marketing helps to reduce these costs and improve efficiencies for these KPIs as well as others. To put it as clear and simply as possible, a CEO should care about online marketing because: 4. Business Blogging for more detailed information about building an online marketing-focused business. Leave the details of keyword selection, content creation and social media engagement to your marketing team. As a CEO, it is important that you understand the broader components of online marketing and how they work together to drive lead and customer growth. Topics: “Online marketing reduces marketing costs while improving lead quality and volume, and provides detailed metrics for measurement and further improvement.” As a CEO, you probably don’t find yourself amidst the tactical details of marketing, but you are likely involved at some level in the staffing of the marketing department. Understand that the skill set for today’s marketer is changing. When hiring new marketing stars for your organization, you should look for people with a hybrid set of skills. New marketing team members need to be able to create and organize compelling content like a journalist. However, they also need to understand how to connect this content with business objectives and leverage data from web analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) software to iterate and make continued improvements. These are the marketers you need to help grow your business in a world of increasing online marketing domination. Think about these skills as you interview your next marketing hire. Online marketing, or inbound marketing as well call it at 3. Email Marketing online Marketing Hubs – Social media isn’t about teenagers playing on Facebook. It is about business prospects using networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to research new vendors, learn, connect with potential partners and much more. Social media finally gives a a way to map and influence word-of-mouth marketing in a way that has never existed before. – On the web, an email address is an incredible piece of information. Email connects people with social networks, friends and businesses in which they are interested. Email marketing, like most forms of online marketing, comes down to the issue of relevancy. Does your prospect want the information you are sending them?  Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective lead generation methods online, so investing in the right email service provider and email marketer can facilitate big business gains. as well as our HubSpot’s 2010 Online Marketing Blueprint Why Online Marketing Is Important Originally published Jul 13, 2010 12:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Social Media Statistics: 2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) View morelast_img read more

A Marketer’s Guide to the 6 Phases of a Website Redesign

first_imgKeith Moehring is business development manager and consultant at PR 20/20, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot Partner. You can follow him on Twitter at @keithmoehring . He also actively contributes to http://www.PR2020.com/blog . A website is the cornerstone of any marketing campaign. It is the place where customers, prospects, media, competitors, investors, peers and job candidates turn to first when learning more about your organization and its products or services. Because of this, it’s essential that marketers take a leadership role in any company website redesign project .Free Workbook: How to Plan a Successful Website RedesignTo help you avoid any common missteps, we’ve developed a free ebook — “ A Marketer’s Guide to Website Redesign .” The ebook details the six main steps involved in the website redesign process , from the perspective of a marketer who doesn’t have a technology background. 1. The Prep To avoid delays, take the time to gather all necessary information upfront, before it is needed. Items to gather include:Analytics tracking codes.Logo file in a vector format (i.e. .EPS, .AI, or .CDR).Main contact information for current website host.Google Webmaster Central, Bing Webmaster Center and Yahoo SiteExplorer verification codes.Branding guidelines and all relevant collateral documents. 2. Discovery Collaborate with all website stakeholders (i.e. C-level executives, marketing department, sales department, and IT) to define the most important aspects of your new site, including:Buyer personas.Site objectives. Calls to action .Color scheme.Page layout and design preferences.Site features and functionality. 3. Design & Structure To help communicate your vision of the new website, develop a comprehensive creative brief, detailing everything you defined in phase two. Your web team will use this as a guide when designing and building out your new site.At minimum your creative brief should include:Graphic sitemap outlining all pages on your site, including main navigation options.Page layout and design preferences, with screen shots or URLs of examples.Color scheme, including primary, secondary and accent colors.Navigation options you want available on the site. 4. Content & Optimization Visitors don’t come to your site for the cool design or fancy navigation; they come for the content. Develop content that is concise, scannable and engaging. It needs to deliver key messaging quickly and clearly, and then drive visitors to take a desired call to action. To help this content get found, it also needs to be optimized avoid priority keywords.When developing content, consider the following suggestions:Create a keyword map that assigns each page on your site a priority keyword (or two) for which it will be optimized.Define the tone and style of your content.Assign the development of website copywriting to your team’s strongest writer (avoid using multiple authors). Optimize each page after the content has been created. 5. Build Out & Quality Assurance This is the phase where all your hard work comes to fruition. It includes populating the site with all content, setting up 301 redirects, and completing a thorough review of the site to ensure that everything displays and works properly. To streamline the upload process:Create an upload cheatsheet that will serve as a how-to guide for adding content into your content management system (CMS).Before loading content, create all the pages first, and organize them according to your sitemap.Upload all images and graphics into a designated folder in the CMS so they are easy to locate when it comes time to add them to a page.Put together a team internally to upload all content and formatting into the web pages.Perform a quality assurance by checking to make sure all formatting is correct, all links and features work, and that everything displays properly across all browsers. 6. The Launch Finally, launch the new website and ensure it is being indexed accurately by Google and other search engines. To do this, take the time to:Check that all 301 redirects are working.Log into each search engine’s webmaster center to confirm all verfication code is installed properly, and then submit your XML sitemap.Verify that all analytics tracking code is installed.Review Google Webmaster Tools every few days to ensure there are no pages Google had indexed on your old site that it can no longer find. Website Redesign Kit Website Redesign Originally published Jul 14, 2010 6:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more