Friday, October 19, 2018

Facebook Wants You to Think False News Efforts Are Working, But 52% of People Aren't So Sure

Facebook today announced that three independent studies have found that the company's efforts to fight the spread of false news on its site might be working.

The three studies -- conducted respectively by New York University and Stanford University researchers, the University of Michigan, and French fact-checking organization Les Décodeurs -- each found that the volume of false news on Facebook has decreased. Some found that, amongthe false news content present on the site, engagement with it had also gone down.

We recently ran a survey to see if users were noticing less spam on the social network, and despite today's announcement, it seems like misinformation might not be totally eradicated just yet.

Here's what each study found, and how it compares to what users report seeing on their News Feeds.

Three Studies of Facebook's Fight Against False News

"Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media"

The first study -- conducted by New York University's Hunt Allcott, along with Stanford University's Matthew Gentzkow, and Chuan Yu -- observed the amount of engagement on Facebook and Twitter with content from 570 publishers that had been labeled as "false news," according to earlier studies and reports. And while the study cites where it obtained this list of 570 sites, it doesn't actually indicate what they are.

The team them used content sharing and tracking platform BuzzSumo to measure how much engagement -- shares, comments, and such reactions as Likes -- was received by all stories published by these sites between January 2015 and July 2018 on Facebook and Twitter.

The results: Following November 2016, interactions with this content fell by over 50% on Facebook. The study also indicated, however that shares of this content on Twitter increased.

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 9.53.00 AM

Source: Alcott, Gentzkow and Yu

It's important to note that a U.S. presidential election took place in November 2016, for which Facebook was weaponized by foreign actors in a misinformation campaign with the intention of influencing the election's outcome. 

Since then, Facebook has widely publicized its fight against the spread of such misinformation -- which includes false news -- and points to this study as evidence of that fight's success.

"Iffy Quotient: A Platform Health Metric for Misinformation"

The second study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, relied a measure of false news engagement referred to as the "Iffy Quotient" -- which takes into account how much content from sites known for publishing misinformation is "amplified" on social media.

Why such a non-committal word, like "iffy"? According to the study, the name is a tribute to the often mixed, subjective definitions of what constitutes "false news." In this case, it includes "sites that have frequently published misinformation and hoaxes in the past," as measured by such fact-checking bodies as Media Bias/Fact Check and Open Sources.

This study largely utilized NewsWhip: a site that measures the most popular links shared on social, as well as the engagement -- again, shares, comments, and such reactions as Likes -- received by each link. 

The researchers then isolated the links from NewsWhip that were classified as "iffy," examining how much engagement they received over time, between January 2016 and September 2018. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 10.17.51 AM

Source: University of Michigan

The results, according to the study's authors, aligned with those of the first study, showing "a long-term decline in Facebook’s Iffy Quotient since March 2017."

"False Information Circulates Less and Less on Facebook"

Finally, a study conducted by Les Décodeurs -- a fact-checking division of  French newspaper Le Monde -- concluded that Facebook engagement with content from publishers classified as “unreliable or dubious sites” has decreased by half within France since 2015. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 10.37.23 AM

Source: Les DécodeursTranslation: "The weight of unreliable and doubtful sites has decreased in three years. Share of different categories of sites in the commitment (shares, comments, "likes") on Facebook. "Sites peu fiables" = "unreliable websites." "Sites douteux" = "doubtful websites.

What Do Users Report Seeing on Facebook?

While the above three studies point to the possible success of Facebook's efforts to curb the spread of false news and misinformation, the group of users we surveyed might not yet be seeing the impact of Facebook’s anti-spam measures.

We asked 831 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada: In the past six months, have you noticed more or less spam on your Facebook News Feed?

In the past six months, have you noticed more or less spam on your Facebook News Feed_

Over half of respondents report seeing more spam in their News Feeds over the past six months: a figure up from the 47% who reported seeing more spam in their feeds in July 2018, when we ran a preliminary survey.

During that same time, we ran another survey in which over 78% of respondents indicated that they would include "fake news" in spam content.

These combined findings raise a question: If independent research, which Facebook says it did not fund, points to such success in its efforts to curb the spread of false news, why does a growing number of users report seeing more of it in the News Feed?

There could be a number of explanations, one being heightened awareness. Since first discovering that it was weaponized for a coordinated misinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been more forthcoming about further evidence it finds of bad actors misusing its site for similar purposes.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that -- according to its sources -- the bad actors behind a September data attack that scraped the personal information of 30 million Facebook users were "spammers that present[ed] themselves as a digital marketing company ... looking to make money through deceptive advertising."

With such stories continuing to make headlines, it could be that Facebook users are more attuned and sensitive to the possible misleading or spammy nature of the content they see in their News Feeds, causing them to report seeing more misinformation.

That sensitivity could be compounded by the looming days remaining before the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S., where the highest percentage of respondents in our survey reported seeing more spam in their news feeds.

Responses by Region (2)-1

The imminent timing of such a pivotal event could also heighten user awareness, as the topic of the midterm elections continues to dominate headlines, national dialogue, and televised ads. Consider, too, that our research also shows that about a third of internet users don't believe that Facebook's efforts to prevent election meddling will work at all. 

But as Facebook's various efforts -- or, at the very least, the attention the company strives to draw to them -- continue, so will our measuring of user sentiment be ongoing. Stay tuned.

Email Sign Up Forms: How to Increase Email Sign Ups With Better Forms

In 2017, there were 3.7 billion email users across the globe. That number is expected to reach 4.3 billion by 2022. With half of the world’s population on email, and the ability to reach people at any time of day, email marketing remains a crucial technique to build a customer base.

So how do you attract people to your email list? There are a few important steps, but it all starts with an email sign up forms.

What Is An Email Sign Up Form?

An email sign up form is used to collect email addresses from leads and potential customers. These forms are are embedded on a webpage where a visitor can enter their email address in a form field to be added to your email newsletter. 

A lead might provide their email address for any number of reasons — to receive details about sales, blog post notifications, a discount code or information about your business. Either way, that makes your email sign up form one of the most important things on your site. And while they're simple to create with the help of a form builder, you’ll still need to put some time and thought into how you build, format and embed your form. 

Let’s go over some ways to create a sign up form that will get more leads on your email list.

5 Email Sign Up Form Best Practices

Whether you’re looking to reach ten people or ten million, you’ll need to create a sign up form that gets people excited to sign up.. Here are some best practices that will help you create a high-converting email sign up form

1. Make the Value Exchange Clear

Your leads should be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” when they complete your form. An email address is a valuable commodity and it should be worth their while to sign up. Add a short description to the top of your email sign up form that describes what your lead will get in return for signing up and make it good. For example, instead of saying, ”Sign up for our weekly newsletter” you should say, “sign up for our newsletter and receive exclusive deals and offers.” A strong incentive means your website visitors are more likely to convert.

2. Use a Double Opt-In

You don’t necessarily need more sign-ups as you need quality sign-ups. You need people who actually want to receive your emails — more is not always better. Ensuring quality sign-ups means less fake leads wasting your time and less chances that you’ll end up in the SPAM folder or blacklisted

To ensure quality sign-ups on your form, consider using a double opt-in. This is the type of email subscription that confirms your lead wants to be added to your email list twice. The first time is when the lead enters and submits their information using your web form, and the second time requires the lead to click an additional CTA (usually in their inbox) that confirms their submission. A double confirmation means a high-quality relationship with your leads.

3. Keep It Simple

A lead should be able to look at the form, enter their information, hit “submit” and carry on with their lives within a matter of seconds. Successful email sign up forms are straightforward and clear. If your form is too complex, you risk losing the interest of your website visitors.

Don’t get greedy and ask for too much information right away — if you do, there is a large chance you will turn people off and drive them away from your website. Keep your email sign up form as a way for visitors to sign up for emails.

4. Consider Place and Time

The placement of your email sign up form on your website matters. You should think about how you want your website visitors to find your form. For example, do you want your form to pop-up on the page the second someone lands on your website? Do you want them to scroll down to the bottom of your homepage to find your form? Or do they need to land on a specific page on your site?

Form placement isn’t one-size-fits-all. Think about where most visitors land on your site, how your buyer personas want to interact with your brand and the overall user experience.

Consider questions like, “Will my target audience get frustrated with a pop-up the second they enter our site, or will they find it helpful?”

5. Send a Kickback Email After Submission

Once someone completes your form, thank and welcome them. 

A kickback email is an email that gives your new lead something in return for their information. In the case of an email sign up form kickback email, you’ll want to welcome your new lead and perhaps offer them links to useful content. Thank them for their interest and get them excited about their decision to give you their personal information. This is also where you can provide your new leads with their discount codes, details on future sales, why you value their interest in your business, and how you will support them in the future.

Five Great Email Newsletter Signup Form Examples

Now that we’ve reviewed email sign up form best practices, let’s dive into some examples to provide you with some inspiration while creating your own form.

HubSpot’s Marketing Blog

HubSpot’s marketing blog has an email sign up form with clear benefit statement. Any website visitor could look at this subscription landing page and understand what they will get from signing up in a matter of seconds.

By using a separate landing page for this form, HubSpot is able to eliminate any confusion about what leads are signing up for.

There is also a feature on the form that requires leads to determine whether or not they want to sign up for a daily or weekly subscription. This provides clarity for the lead signing up and ensures a quality subscription for HubSpot.



Source: theSkimm

When you head to theSkimm’s website, the first thing you see is their email sign up form. That’s because their entire business revolves around a subscription. theSkimm is a daily email about the top news stories around the globe, so it would only make sense for their homepage to contain their sign up form. 

Above their email sign up, there is a short, straightforward description about how theSkimm works. They provide leads with social proof by mentioning the “millions” of other people who have subscribed to their emails. And lastly, they show a bit of personality and humor with a line beneath the form that says “Still on the fence?” and allows potential leads to read their latest newsletter as well as check out a few celebrity Tweets about how great theSkimm is. 


Source: theSkimm



Source: Anthropologie

Anthropologie places their email sign up form towards the bottom of their homepage after users have had a chance to look around and become familiar with the site. Their signup form has a short description about what leads can expect once they sign up . Anthropologie also respects their visitors’ time by simply asking for an email address to sign up.



Source: Lulus

Lulus form is located towards the bottom of their homepage. Their email sign up form gets website visitors excited about converting with an offer: a 10% discount code upon sign up. The form is simple and only requires an email address. After form submission, new leads receive a kickback email that welcomes them and also provides them with the code, as promised.

Quest Nutrition 


Quest Nutrition’s form is in a pop-up window that dims the background, eliminating any distractions. The form offers incentives like recipes, discounts and surprises for visitors to sign up. Only an email address is required to sign up. Website visitors have the option to bypass the pop-up and look around the site instead.


Email sign up forms are a simple, efficient and effective way to obtain leads, create more conversions, and increase your overall sales. You’ll reach your audience with email sign up forms that are straightforward and embedded on a convenient location on your website. So, take a few minutes to create your own email sign up form and get started broadening your customer base, developing relationships with your potential customers and increasing your number of leads today. 

What is an Early Adopter? A 3-Minute Rundown

In 2011, there were 150 marketing technology companies scrambling to convince the business world that digital was the future of marketing. Today, that number has exploded to nearly 7,000 companies. And they’re all battling each other to win a spot in the technology stack of almost every business in the world.

By now, digital marketing doesn’t need to be categorized. It’s just marketing. But what happened in the last seven years that took digital from fun, little side projects to most companies’ main form of marketing?

Obviously, the rising popularity of the internet, social media, and smartphones played a huge role in taking digital marketing mainstream. But there was also a pivotal group of companies who drove its momentum: the early adopters of marketing technology.

Acquiring early adopters is a crucial step in the development and potential of an early-stage product or technology. Early adopters can provide a lot of helpful feedback about a product’s or technology’s pros and cons. They also inject these companies with revenue that funds the research and development needed to enhance the product or technology enough to gain widespread adoption.

Early adopters’ experience with and pending endorsement of a new product or technology is vital for determining whether or not the majority of the population will accept the new product or technology. Their support and word-of-mouth marketing for a new product or technology can bolster its reputation and help the company acquire more customers.

But early adopters aren’t helping out ambitious start-ups for altruistic reasons -- this partnership is mutually beneficial and produces synergy. For instance, by providing companies with the vital feedback and revenues that can refine their product or technology and take it mainstream, early adopters get unique access to a potentially advantageous new product or technology.

Early adopters also receive first-class customer support, like a dedicated employee to help implement and run the product or technology, or generous discounts and terms and conditions, in exchange for dealing with the bugs that most early-stage products and technology have.

This mutually beneficial relationship doesn’t offset the risk that early adopters face for adopting a new product or technology, though. Even though customers get generous discounts, the newly released product or technology is usually still expensive. It also might be incompatible with an early adopter’s products or the trend the technology is trying to leverage could die out.

For example, early adopters of content marketing software bet that content would be the future of marketing. Fortunately, they won that bet. But early adopters of artificial intelligence and virtual reality risk losing a lot of time and resources on a technology that could just be all hype.

Technology Adoption Curve

The term “early adopters” comes from the technology adoption curve, which was popularized by the 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations, written by Everett Rogers, a professor of communications at Ohio State University.

The technology adoption curve shows the acceptance process of a new product or technology, according to the demographics and psychographics of each group in a population. The curve has a normal distribution.

Image Credit: On Digital Marketing

As you can see from the graphic, early adopters are the second group to adopt a new technology or product. The first group is called innovators, and the ones who adopt the technology after the early adopters are the early majority, late majority, and laggards, respectively.

Each group has unique characteristics, which influences their decision to adopt new technologies before or after they became mainstream. Here’s a general description of each group:


  • Youngest group of consumers or companies
  • Most prosperous
  • Most connected to outside sources and innovators
  • Most risk-taking
  • More educated
  • Respected in the community

Early Adopters

  • Younger groups of consumers or companies
  • More prosperous
  • Well connected with the community
  • More progressive
  • Most educated
  • Thought leaders of the community -- opinions are held in high regard

Early Majority

  • Older group of consumers or companies
  • Above-average to average prosperity
  • Connected with early adopters
  • More conservative but open to new ideas
  • Above average to average education
  • Above average to average activity and influence in the community

Late Majority

  • Older group of consumers or companies
  • Average to below average prosperity
  • Connected with the early majority
  • Staunchly conservative -- approach innovation with a lot of skepticism and will only adopt technologies if they’re proven and the majority of the community has adopted the technology
  • Average to below average education
  • Average to below average influence in the community


  • Oldest group of consumers or companies
  • Least prosperous
  • Virtually no connection with the community
  • Extremely conservative and traditional -- will adopt technology when its the only remaining option to complete a task
  • Least educated
  • Little to no influence in the community

From Hype to Reality

Early adopters played a key role in taking digital marketing technology from hype to reality. And if you’ve just developed a new product or technology, no matter what industry you’re trying to penetrate, recruiting a loyal group of early adopters could do the same for you too.

A Simple Explanation of Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

There are two types of employees -- "exempt" and "non-exempt". You might've seen these terms on job postings, or heard them in conversation.

If you aren't sure what they mean, don't worry -- here, we're going to break them down.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

One of the biggest differences between exempt and non-exempt employees is overtime pay. An exempt employee is not entitled overtime pay by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Instead, exempt employees are given a salary, and they are expected to finish the tasks required of them, whether it takes 30 hours or 50. Exempt employees are also excluded from other FLSA protections afforded non-exempt employees.

To be exempt, an employee must earn a minimum of $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, in the form of a salary, instead of on an hourly basis.

The most common roles considered exempt include professional, executive, outside sales, and administrative.

On the flip side, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime -- one-and-a-half times their hourly rate, for any hours worked beyond 40 each week. As the name implies, they are not exempt from FLSA regulations.

Most non-exempt employees must be paid federal minimum wage ($7.25 in 2018). Non-exempt employees can be paid either a salary or an hourly wage.

Let's consider this example to demonstrate the difference between exempt and non-exempt:

Sarah, who is an exempt employee, is stressed because she hasn't finished her proposal due Monday. She spends most of Friday night tweaking it and finishing it up, staying at the office until late. On Monday, she gets her paycheck -- the same amount of money she would've gotten if she hadn't stayed late.

Meanwhile, John, who is a non-exempt employee, chooses to take extra shifts and work overtime on Friday's. He doesn't have to -- he could leave at 5 p.m. if he wanted to, but on Monday when he receives his paycheck, he knows he'll receive extra money from the overtime hours worked.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

29 of the Best Office Pranks & Practical Jokes to Use at Work

If you've watched the TV show "The Office" as religiously as I have, the classic "stapler in Jell-O" trick surely sounds familiar. It's pretty much what the name describes: Simply make a batch of Jell-O, but make sure your colleague's stapler is hidden inside the mold.

It's a classic prank. But what other, less conventional pranks are out there to add some kicks to an otherwise average day at the office?

We asked our friends and combed the internet for more examples of some of the funniest office pranks, and pulled together this list to serve as inspiration for your own work pranks.Click here to unlock a free guide and template designed to help you create a company culture code. 

Every company has a story about that funny office prank of yore. Whether you're doing some early April Fool's Day research, or just feeling a little tricksy, it's time to get a prank of your own in the books. Here are some ideas.

Funny Office Pranks to Pull on Your Coworkers

1. Caramel Onions

When Halloween is around the corner, these caramel onions are no match for other tricks (or treats). Dip each onion in caramel -- maybe some red food coloring first, if you need to further disguise them -- and stick popsicle sticks down the center. Your colleagues won't know the difference, but they will wonder why these caramel apples are making them cry so much ...

Caramel onions office prank Source: Rant Lifestyle

2. Nicolas Cage Toilet Seat

Speaking of Halloween, here's what nightmares are truly made of. Nicolas Cage is easy to come by in the meme community these days. Print a picture of him at his most, well, enthusiastic -- and allow him to greet everyone who takes a bathroom break.

Office prank with picture of Nicolas Cage on toilet seat Source: Rant Lifestyle

3. Fish Drawer

There's something fishy about this office prank ... Just be sure to include fish food; experts suggest you should feed this prank twice a day.

Office prank with desk drawer filled with water and fish Source: Reddit user jihadaze

4. Pants in the Stall

Usually, when you see feet underneath the stall, you just have to wait your turn. In this case, you might be waiting forever. Set this guy up in your office bathroom and see how long it takes for people to start talking. We just hope nobody called the paramedics on this poor, empty suit.

Office prank with empty pants and shoes in bathroom stall Source: BuzzFeed

5. Febreze for Days

Tighten the zip-tie, throw it, and run for your life. Or, leave it in your coworker's office when they're on break. They're sure to return to a potent workspace.

Febreze office prank Source: Emlii

6. Vehicular Sticky Notes

This is the perfect use for those sticky notes that keep piling up -- especially if they're all for someone who just won't finish his or her tasks. The prank below is a wonderful way to remind them before they take off for the day.

Office prank with sticky notes covering coworker's car Source: Reddit, Bzbzbzbz

7. Misspelling Macro

Never ask your work buddy to unlock your iPhone for you, or they'll make you look like the worst speller of all time when you go to type a text or email. Settings > General > Keyboard > Add new shortcut will make this prank a reality against your most detail-oriented colleague.

keyboard-shortcut-prank Source: Gottabemobile

8. Foghorn Entrance

Haven't you ever wanted to get a room's attention the second you walk through the door? Well, the prank below will even get the person entering to stand up straight. This is certainly one way to make sure everyone's alert before a meeting.

Office prank with foghorn on door bumper Source: Reddit user JJ0EE

9. Ballooned Conference

Hey, at least it's not glitter? This prank works two ways: You can either surprise the next team who reserves this room, or have a day-long meeting in here without anyone knowing your business. You will of course have some static electricity when you exit the room.

Office conference room filled with balloons Source: Reddit, williebeth

10. Desk Trolls

For trolls, by trolls. Luckily, you can buy many of these trolls in bulk. Click here if you're serious about trolling your coworker's workstation -- just keep in mind you will have to buy more than one pack of trolls to make this stunt worth it.

Office desk full of pink troll dolls Source: Dose

11. Water Works

Oh look, a budget trip to the beach. This prank gives a whole new meeting to the term, "staycation." Surprise your coworker when he/she comes back from a beach getaway with, well, another beach getaway. The downside is it'll be nothing like where they were. The upside is they won't need a towel.

Beach vacation prank Source: Imgur user Sanjeev

12. Anti-Gravity Desk

"That's it -- you're suspended." Just make sure the person who arrives in the morning to a floating desk doesn't try to sit down ...

suspended-chair-prank.jpg Source: Daily Mail

13. Nailed the Cake

Hey everyone, there's cake up for grabs in the kitchen! The prank, however, is written in frosting. This is a good gesture to someone who loves the expression, "needle in a haystack." Happy hunting.

find-the-toenail-prank.jpg Source: Reddit user blinhorst

14. Psychedelic Supervision

"I don't know, I feel like my boss is always watching me," your coworker might say. Change their perception of micromanagement when this colorful prank. Suddenly a "quick checkin" doesn't seem all that bad.

boss-pics.jpg Source: Imgur user DecentLeaf

15. Voice Toast

Simple, yet brilliant. Change the terms of breakfast ever so slightly, and the kitchen becomes the most confusing room in the office. This little note pranks the entire office -- a true masterpiece of prank-dom.


Source: Tumblr

16. Work From Home

As Ron Burgundy from Anchorman says, "I'm not even mad. I'm just impressed." Help your coworker who loves taking his/her work home, take their home to work instead. As you can tell, you might need to stay late the night before to get this prank just right.

cubicle-home Source: Reddit user BOOMTimebomb

17. You've Been 'Felined'

This could actually make your cat-loving coworker's day. Or, it could make for the greatest prank of all time against the coworker who's violently allergic to cats (that is, as long as they're not allergic to photos of cats, too).

cat-lover-prank Source: Reddit user cstyves

18. The Seedboard

Work with your IT department to fertilize this prank perfectly. Soon enough, its user will wonder why their keyboard is growing. We suggest targeting someone who sits close to the window -- some pranks just need some sunlight. "You said you wanted to spend more time with nature," you might say in your defense.

seeds-in-keyboard weeds-in-keyboard-prank Source: BoredPanda

19. Healthy Creme

Who said you couldn't be helpful while also being a prankster? "The bad news is we're out of donuts. The good news is you have all these nutritious alternatives to help your immune system cope with the lack of donuts."


This is just cruel 😂 #officeprank #aprilfools #krispykreme #mean #notcool

A post shared by Free Humor (@scotchandsarcasm) on May 12, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT

20. The Ceilings Have Eyes

You could freak out just looking at the photo of this horrifying prank. It might be a little too much for your jumpiest colleague, but for the person who can't stop talking about scary movies, it's just the revenge you deserve. (Hint: paper mache, white paint, and a black wig. Done.)


Source: Tumblr

21. Chair Scare

Similar to the Entrance Foghorn (prank #8, above), this prank will probably scare more than just the person who sits down. Of course, it'll be a lesson to anyone who, I suppose, tries to sit too low at their desk.

chair-foghorn-prank Source: Reddit user 12q9et

Funny Pranks to Pull on Your Boss

22. No Stalling

For the man who never has enough time. Or, for the coworker who takes way too many bathroom breaks during the day. Prank them with their very own throne the next time nature calls.

23. No Stalling: Pt. 2

... Or anyone, really, who never has enough time to make a pit stop -- especially if they have specific bathroom decor preferences.

bathroom-cubicle-prank.jpg Source: 22words

24. Glitter Bomb

About that whole, "At least it's not glitter" thing in prank #9? Well, this prank can't make that promise. For the coworkers who don't yet know the permanence of getting glitter on yourself, this prank is sure to set them straight.

25. Substitute Worker

Sometimes, you're not sure how to ask for another day off. For those days where you simply can't come into work, but don't have the heart to call out again, the doll who looks just like you is the perfect substitute. Or, just put 'em at your colleague's desk and give them a much-needed identity crisis.

26. Crushed It

When you finally learn about your colleague's celebrity crush, make sure they know how much you care.



A post shared by Alice Lei (@alicerabbit1) on Aug 1, 2015 at 4:04pm PDT

27. World's 'Best' Boss

When words just aren't enough to express your sentiment, give your manager the perfect way to say "thank you" every time they go to take a sip of coffee.

28. Cup o' Spiders

"Hey chief, I found a spider on your desk, but don't worry, it's been handled." This prank doesn't have to have an actual spider in it -- the mystery, alone, is all you need to prank your employee.

29. That's a Wrap

And finally, for the boss who has everything, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

giphy (9).gif

Source: Giphy

Want more? Read The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love.

download free guide to company culture

how to create a company culture code

What Will It Take Us to Finally Leave Facebook?

Oh, Facebook. What are we going to do with you?

In the past two years alone, we've learned that the network was weaponized by foreign actors to spread misinformation in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We've learned that personal user information was improperly harvested by an voter profiling firm. And, last month, we learned that hackers used a site vulnerability to scrape the personal details of 30 million users.

That doesn't even cover everything.

It's true: These events, on the surface, most directly impact consumers, marketers and small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) are also feeling their overall impact.

And yet, many Facebook users, marketers, and SMBs have found it so very, very hard to leave the site.

This phenomenon has been measured before in some of our research, which month-over-month has reflected a general sentiment among users to stick with Facebook, despite its many issues. But we wanted to take a closer look -- at the impact on marketers and SMBs, at a zoomed-in perspective of user sentiment, at the "why" behind the overall reluctance to quit Facebook altogether, and what it might take for people to finally leave.

To get to the bottom of these different pieces of one big, social puzzle, we ran some more surveys, and discussed the results with Likeable Media CEO Carrie Kerpen.

Here's what we found.

The Impact on Marketers and SMBs

Facebook has made a number changes in response to the aforementioned issues its experienced over the past two years.

To help curtail the spread of misinformation, for example, it began this spring requiring labels for all political ads and content -- like candidates running for an elected office, or issues that frequently arise during elections.

It began applying similar labels to news items, too, indicating where and how many times that story (from that publisher) has been shared on Facebook, as well as a "More From This Publisher" feature.


Source: Facebook

While the company's intended goal might be to regain or improve user trust, the outcome has arguably been felt the most by marketers and SMBs. That's compounded by a major January News Feed algorithm change that prioritized content from users' friends and family -- leading to a drop of up to 50% in business Page engagement for certain categories.

But consider another extension of Facebook's content-labeling requirement that applies to media companies. In addition to labeling political or issue-based ads as such, the company also began requiring the same labels be placed on promoted news stories about political topics. In other words, a newspaper's story about an election, if promoted or boosted, would be labeled as a political ad.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), these requirements have caused a number of smaller publishers to curb their use of Facebook's publisher tools, or in some cases, stop promoting their content on the site completely. It shares the story of Pennsylvania newspaper the Observer-Reporter, which has had the promotion of many of its stories denied altogether from Facebook -- due to their alleged "political" nature -- much of the time without any explanation.

It begs the question: What's the value tradeoff for marketers and SMBs? And furthermore, with all the costs involved with these changes -- will they even work?

That's where the public perception comes in.

The Facebook Trust Barometer: Where Do Users Stand?

Overall User Trust in and Allegiance to Facebook

First, we wanted to measure overall, recent trust levels in Facebook. So, earlier this week, we asked 828 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Over the past week, how would you measure your overall trust in Facebook?

Over the past week, how would you measure your overall trust in Facebook_ (1)

Nearly 40% of respondents indicated that their trust in the site hadn't changed at all -- even after Facebook had recently revealed the extent of the data obtained by hackers in the site's recent data breach (which, it turns out, included recent search queries and check-in locations).

But we wanted to see what would happen if we added more context to the question -- and see what actions people said they would take in response to that information. So, we asked another 848 internet users across the same region: Facebook disclosed that in a recent data breach, personal details of 14 million users -- like their 15 most recent searches and the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in -- were scraped by hackers. Does this affect how you'll use the site going forward?

Facebook disclosed that in a recent data breach, personal details of 14 million users -- like their 15 most recent searches and the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in -- were scraped by hackers. Does this affect how you'll u

Looking at these results, the unwillingness to leave Facebook, even after all is said and done, could be chalked up to awareness. With the additional context, we saw slightly more respondents indicating a possible deterioration in trust in Facebook -- with over a quarter saying that the data attack was enough to make them at least use the site less.

Still, most users -- over a third -- said that it wasn't enough to make them leave the site.

Confidence in Efforts to Curb Election Meddling

Facebook has made a number of efforts to stop the weaponization of its site to influence elections -- ranging from the aforementioned content labels, to new rules prohibiting posts that aim to suppress voters

The company has also publicized its efforts to squash election interference, perhaps with the intention of convincing users and lawmakers alike how seriously it's taking the issue -- and even recently invited journalists into its "election warm room" to see what that day-to-day work looks like.

But we wanted to know how confident the public is in Facebook's efforts to stop election interference in its tracks, including some of the loopholes that have been found in them. A recent New York Times story found, for example, that political ads can still be somewhat anonymous, thanks to a technicality that allows ad buyers to write anything in the “paid for by” field.

We asked another 837 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you think the actions Facebook is taking to prevent efforts to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections will work?

Do you think the actions Facebook is taking to prevent efforts to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections will work_ (1)

The results didn't indicate resounding user confidence in Facebook's efforts to curb election meddling -- while about 44% say that they might work to some extent, over a third don't believe they'll be effective at all.

The Perception of Spam and Misinformation on Facebook

Earlier this year, 

What Will It Take Us to Finally Leave Facebook?

To answer the above question, I needed to call in an expert: Likeable Media CEO Carrie Kerpen.

When it comes to the tendency of users to stick with Facebook in the face of ongoing controversy, it seems to be a combination of awareness and trade-offs. We've discussed the latter before, when HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson pointed to the lack of a widespread replacement for Facebook's ability to keep users connected to family, friends, and news. 

Kerpen agrees that this phenomenon of connectedness does underscore the unwillingness among users to delete their Facebook accounts for good.

"Your Grandma is likely not on Twitter, but she's on Facebook now," Kerpen says, pointed to Facebook's diversified user base among different populations. "It's easy to use Facebook, every one is on it, and it's widely adopted."

Then, there's the awareness aspect. Even when people do know about Facebook's various issues, and think they understand them, it's difficult for most users to tangibly experience the consequences of them.

"Issues are talked about, but rarely felt. You hear about 'the Russians,' but have you ever [directly] felt the impact of that?" asks Kerpen. "Chances are, if you've been impacted, you don't realize it. Until people feel tangible effects of privacy breaches, they won't be bothered by them."

What, then, will it take for people to leave the site? According to Kerpen, one of two things need to happen. 

In one scenario, "Facebook becomes less relevant and necessary to [users'] lives," she says. "That's unlikely, unless another network is able to have the widespread reach that Facebook has achieved."

If that happens, the impacts and awareness among users will have to become more tangible. "The privacy breaches actually impact lives at an individual level. They may have impacted elections, for instance, but until a user has to call their credit card company and dispute charges, it really doesn't feel like it impacts them on an individual level," Kerpen explains. "These breaches may have given companies data -- but until a user's private data is exposed in a way that impacts them directly, they won't care."

That signals some of the impact of these issues on marketers and SMBs. Take the earlier CJR piece, for example, which shares the stories of publishers whose brand engagement -- like visits to their sites -- have dropped over the past year as a result of Facebook's changes.

That's the type of case where the impact of what's taken place on Facebook over the past two years is tangibly experienced by -- and at the expense of -- those from whom Facebook earns the most revenue (read: advertisers).

And while the company has implied that it's willing to sacrifice income from content promotions and ads from the marketers and businesses using these tools, one might wonder at what point more of these professional users -- like some cited in the CJR story -- might begin to reconsider or reshape their use of Facebook.

"I think you'll see a temporary scale back from Facebook if these practices continue, but ultimately, brands follow what works," Kerpen explains. "Television was the top medium for advertisers for years, and there was no actual way to prove a direct correlation to sales. Facebook has both the broad reach that television did for content consumption, and the ability to directly correlate to action the way search does."

In any case, says Kerpen, the answer to the question of "what will it take?" comes down to palpable, sustainable effects felt by all users of Facebook.

"When and if people feel individual pain," she says, "they'll care."

The Ultimate Guide to Publishing

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be an author.

People are open to new ideas, readers are consuming content through a variety of media, and traditional publishers no longer stand in the way of releasing a new title.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever considered publishing a book. (Mine is raised right now, too.) Now, keep your hand up if you know how to publish a book. * … slowly lowers hand*

Publishing a book has always been one of those mysterious, cryptic processes reserved for the uber-famous or uber-rich. Books just seem to appear on the bookstore shelves … but they’ve got to come from somewhere, right?

Right. Nowadays, they come from multiple sources, which is good news for those of us who aren’t uber-famous or uber-rich. Regardless of your status, income, hometown, or connections, you (yes, you!) can publish a book.

All you need is a great idea, an even better sense of perseverance and patience, and this guide. Keep reading to learn more about publishing or use the chapter links below to skip ahead.

The publishing industry hasn’t always been so diverse and accessible, though. From the very early days of cave walls, clay tablets and papyrus to the modern era of eBooks, the publishing industry has undergone many major changes.

Here are some highlights.

  • 1456: The Gutenberg Press publishes the first book ever: the Bible.
  • 1776: Common Sense is written and self-published by Thomas Paine. He sold over 100,000 copies within three months.
  • 1800s: The Penny Press arrives in the U.S., making newspapers and news accessible for a penny. Since more people can consume news for less (versus just the rich), letters to the editor increase.
  • 1940-1970: The first eBook is published, although historians disagree on which one was truly first.
  • 2000s: Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter emerge, as does blogging. Instead of sending letters to the editor, the masses take to blogging to share their voice and opinions.
  • 2007: Print on-demand gains traction. Amazon releases Kindle.
  • 2009: Self-published titles surge to double the amount of traditionally published titles.
  • 2011: eBook sales surpass printed books for the first time in history.

As for 2018, this year has seen an increase in traditional and indie bookstore sales. Audiobooks have also become the fastest growth area in self-publishing. Lastly, most authors are opting to become hybrid authors — meaning they make their books available in both traditional and electronic formats. How do they do this? Keep reading to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Self-Publishing?

So, we’ve referenced traditional and self-publishing (or indie publishing) multiple times so far. What do these processes mean? How are they similar and different?

Traditional publishing refers to the process of working with an agent and/or publishing house to edit, release, and market a book. Despite the lack of creative control given to authors in the traditional publishing process, once a publisher purchases a manuscript, they assume all financial risk with selling your book. New authors with little to no audience or follower base might choose to publish traditionally.

On the other hand, self-publishing is when authors assume all creative and financial control of the publishing process. They choose which independent agents, editors, designers, and distributors to work with, and they assume all or most financial risk associated with putting their book out. Experienced authors or people with a large audience (from a blog or social media) might choose to self-publish.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to publish books via these different processes. Before we dive in, though, let’s define a few other popular terms in the publishing world.

What Does a Literary Agent Do?

A literary agent is similar to a celebrity or sports agent. They act as a liaison between the talent (the author) and anyone who could profit from or work with the talent. Literary agents typically work with authors to pitch and secure contracts with publishers. They also represent authors if their book is sold to film producers or studios.

Traditionally, literary agents are paid a percentage of any book sales negotiated on behalf of their client. How do agents benefit authors? Outside of making sales, literary authors connect their client’s work to publishers, negotiate contracts, ensure royalty payments, mitigate problems, and provide invaluable guidance and mentorship throughout the publishing process. Agents can also help new authors gain recognition and traction in the publishing world.

Authors secure an agent through a process called querying. (We cover this below.)

What Does a Publisher Do?

Book publishers assume all responsibility of getting a book published. With a team of editors, designers, and marketers, publishers do everything (short of writing the book) in order to bring it to market.

Some publishers specialize in a certain type of writing, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a specific genre. Also, depending on its size, a publisher might employ editors to manage the manuscript within each of those categories, thus diversifying the books and authors they represent.

Authors typically secure a publisher through their agent, as most big publishing houses don’t accept unrepresented works. Some smaller publishers accept work directly from authors, though. (We discuss this next.)

Top Publishing Companies

The following publishing houses publish the most books (and control over 60% of U.S. book revenue) and require agent representation to be considered for publication.

  1. Hachette
  2. Simon & Schuster
  3. Penguin Random House
  4. HarperCollins
  5. Macmillan

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the publishing industry, let’s talk about how to get a book from the pages of your word processor to the shelf of your favorite bookstore.

How to Publish a Book

Because there are so many ways to publish a book nowadays, the “path to published” isn’t a straight line. There are many factors that can change the direction of that path — or put you on a new one entirely — such as book genre, literary agency (or lack thereof), traditional vs. self-publication, print vs. electronic publication … and the list goes on.

Preparing Your Book

The first step in publishing a book can be both the easiest and hardest step in the entire process — writing it. But before you dive in, you must ask yourself: What kind of book are you writing?

  • If you’re writing a novel or memoir, you should finish your manuscript before approaching agents or starting the self-publishing process. Regardless of which publishing route you’re taking, make your manuscript the best content you’ve ever written. Hire a proofreader. Attend writing critique groups. Complete a few extra drafts. This will make it 1) more likely to get picked up by an agent or 2) sell well if self-published.
  • If you’re writing a non-fiction book, a book proposal should suffice. Consider this a business plan for your book — a document that includes what you’d write about, why it would sell well, any competing manuscripts, and more. (If you’re self-publishing, follow the guidelines for a fiction book. In that case, you’d go straight to the press, so the manuscript would need to be complete.)

Publishing Your Book

This step is where the publishing process could take you in a few different directions. Below, we break it up into two main “paths”, per se.

Traditional Publishing

If you choose the traditional publishing route, you’ll need to either work with an agent or directly with a publisher. In today’s market, the vast majority of books acquired by the top publishing houses (mentioned above) are represented by agents. Imagine walking into a Hollywood audition without representation … that’s kind of like pitching a brand new book to a major publishing house. Literary agents help bridge that gap.

If you aren’t interested in agency, you can work directly with a publisher — albeit a smaller, lesser known one. Thankfully, in today’s publishing world, there’s a good fit for every author and his or her work. It just takes some research.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of where to find agents and publishers.

If you don’t feel like doing your own research, you can also hire help through services like Copy Write Consultants. For a fee, they’ll research agents and publishers and curate a customized, genre-specific list. They also review your queries and proposals.

Pitching an Agent or Publisher

Once you’ve found the agents and/or publishers you’re interested in, it’s time to compile a query letter and pitch your work. Querying is sending an unsolicited proposal for representation, typically including an outline, synopsis, or first few chapters of a new manuscript. From that point, the agent or publisher can either reject or accept the query.

Accepting the query involves requesting a full manuscript … which is why it’s handy to have your whole book completed before reaching out to agents or publishers.

Note: Beware of con-artists posing as agents. Reputable agents never ask for a fee to read your manuscript; they only make money if they sell your book. Visit Preditors & Editors to check agent ratings and reviews.

Signing and Working with an Agent or Publisher

Next, if an agent or publishing house extends a contract, it’s time to sign. Take a moment to research the agent or publishing house by reviewing their past clients and books. Overall, trust your gut. You’ll work closely with this person and/or publisher and share your most intimate ideas and thoughts with them (in the form of your book). Be comfortable with your choice.

Let’s say you sign with an agent. Here’s what that process would look like.

  1. You’ll work with him or her to review your manuscript, but at this point, you’ll likely only be making minor changes in preparation to pitch a publisher. These changes might include word count, book organization, or any big-picture plot holes. Remember, the book is still yours — you don’t have to change anything you don’t want to.
  2. Once you’re both happy with your manuscript, your agent will take it to various publishers. At this point, the fate of your book is out of your hands … which is why it’s important to sign with an agent you trust. If a publisher is interested, they’ll offer to purchase and publish your manuscript, and you’ll sign it over.
  3. Upon purchase, the publishing house will assign its own editor to your book. You’ll work alongside them to continue to tweak and revise the copy, as well as establish the book design, cover art, publishing date, and marketing strategy (which we’ll delve into next). The publisher will have its own team for these tasks, but you’ll likely still be involved.

Now, let’s rewind and say you sign directly with a publisher. This process looks pretty similar, except you’d simply skip to Step 3.


Okay. Let’s change directions and explore the self-publishing path. In the previous section, we discussed self-publishing and ePublishing, and we’ll expand more on these below.

First, here are the most common self-publishing methods:

  • Independently self-publishing, which means hiring freelance or consulting help as-needed and working directly with retailers and distributors
  • Hiring a self-publishing service company, which is akin to working with a publisher

For the sake of equipping you with everything you need to know about publishing, we’re going to dedicate this section to the first method. But before we move on, let’s explore the second … just in case you’re interested.

Hiring a company to self-publish your book is very similar to working with a publisher, except they typically charge an upfront fee, retain no rights to your work, and pass along 100% of your sales. While this method sounds like a great deal, it’s important to note that the best and most notable companies charge upwards of $20,000 … per manuscript. So, if you have a ton of money and no interest in being involved, this might be the move for you.

Here are a few reputable self-publishing service companies:

Now, let’s talk about the first method: self-publishing completely on your own.

This method gives you complete control over your book’s design, editorial process, and quality. Today that’s made easy by the myriad of freelance and independent editors, illustrators, book designers, and marketing professionals that work in this specific market.

The first thing to determine when self-publishing is whether you’d like to publish your manuscript as a print or digital book. This will determine how you prepare your manuscript and who you hire to help you.

Print Publishing

Print production can be done in one of two ways: print on-demand or traditional printing. Print on-demand is printing your book one at a time, as it’s ordered. Traditional printing is typically how major publishing houses produce their books, and to follow this method, you typically have to commit to (at least) 1,000 copies.

Which option is best for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I plan to sell my book?
  • Where will my audience discover and buy my book?
  • What is my budget like?

Print on-demand is a great option for authors who plan to sell primarily online, such as through a website or Amazon. Traditional printing might be a good fit for an author who has speaking engagements or plans to make in-person sales. If you’re looking to stock your book in bookstores, it’s best to wait for a purchase order or sales contract before investing in a traditional print run.

As for your budget, print on-demand can increase your per-unit cost (and retail price), but if you’re working with a small budget, print on-demand decreases the financial risk associated with publishing. On the other hand, if you’re confident you’ll be able to sell your printed books, traditional printing might be worth the bulk cost … with printing and shipping, it’ll likely be at least $2,000.

Preparing Your Print Manuscript

Traditional publishers have a slew of professionals who take your Microsoft Word manuscript and turn it into a gorgeous book. As a self-publisher, that process is on you.

Before taking your book to print, it must look like a traditional book. Tools like Book Design Templates can help you organize and design the inside of your manuscript. For the cover design, you can use tools like Canva (if you’re looking for a DIY approach) or hire a professional designer. At this stage, you should also consider your author biography and any positive reviews you’d like to put on the cover.


ePublishing isn’t a synonym for self-publishing, but rather one way self-published authors might distributetheir work. ePublishers aren’t publishers; they don’t assume responsibility for the quality or organization of your work, and they don’t assume any rights.

They’re merely distributors or retailers — such as an electronic bookstore or library — that take a portion of the proceeds from book sales. The below image is an example of the retailer fees by price point.



Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a popular ePublishing option offered through Amazon. KDP is considered an ePub retailer, on which authors can sell their books. KDP doesn’t work with authors beforehand; they simply provide a portal through which readers can find and purchase books.

Preparing Your eBook Manuscript

If you opt to self-publish digitally, you’ll need to tweak your manuscript. This process is similar to preparing your manuscript for print, except you’ll need to add another step: converting your file to an ePub format.

Here are the most common formats:

  • EPUB, a standard format for eBooks. You can’t export an EPUB file from a Word document, but you can save your Word document as a text (.txt) file and convert and format it using a special software.
  • MOBI, the ideal format for Amazon Kindle (although EPUB files work, too).

PDFs work, too, although they’re not recommended as they are difficult to convert.

If this process intimidates you, companies like Draft2Digital or eBookPartnership can help. But if your manuscript is mostly text, you should be able to handle conversion and formatting on your own.

In terms of cover art, eBook covers will likely be seen in black and white, grayscale, color, high-resolution, low-resolution, thumbnail size, or full size … just to name a few. Digital books sales can take place on desktops, mobile devices, and in all resolutions. Because of this, it may be best to hire a designer who specializes in these formats.

Distributing and Marketing Your Book

So, we’ve talked about how to prepare and publish your book, both traditionally and as a self-published author. At this stage, you’d likely have one of the following:

  • A printed book as produced by a traditional publisher (with or without an agent)
  • A printed book as produced by print on-demand or a traditional printer
  • A digital book manuscript

With the hard part behind you and one of these in-hand (or on your computer), you’re now ready to distribute, market, and sell your book.

Note: If you’re working with a traditional publishing house, they’ll handle most of the marketing and distribution. That’s what your contract entails, after all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help promote your book, too. Apply some of the self-publishing tips below to maximize your book sales.

For self-published print books, the main success factors are your book quality and your cover. (That’s why the majority of this article is dedicated to preparing and publishing your book.) The main factors for eBooks include pricing (which should be similar to or a little less than your competition) and its positioning on Amazon or other digital bookstores. While you can’t quite control this, you can optimize your marketing description, author bio, cover design, and other components to ensure your book is seen by more people.

There’s one factor that drives success for both print and digital books: audience involvement and visibility. This includes giveaways, reviews, contests, and drumming up interest before the publish date. Authors — especially self-published authors — should have a website, a blog, and social media (for starters) through which they can attract followers and promote their book. Loyalty is an incredibly strong motivator for books sales.

Writer Jane Friedman shares this advice on her blog: “You’ll be far more attractive to a publisher if they believe you’ll be an active marketer and promoter of your book. If you come to the table with media savvy or an established platform (audience or readership), you’ll have an easier time getting that first deal. [Also,] don’t go looking for a publishing deal because you need the authority or platform that a book can give you. Rather, you must already have the platform and authority, and thus be qualified to write a book. YOU bring the audience to the publisher, not the reverse.”

The same goes for self-publishers. Your audience is critical for marketing and selling a book … which brings us to our next section: publishing tips in 2018.

Publishing a Book in 2018

The publishing world has changed drastically, especially in the last 20 years. Outside of self-publishing, ePublishing, and audiobooks, what else is new? What are some tips for modern-day publishing? Keep reading to find out.

Crowdsource Your Book

Crowdsourcing isn’t reserved for fancy backpacks or new technology. Self-published authors can thrive there, too. Not only does crowdsourcing provide you with an advance of cash that can help with upfront editorial or printing costs, but it can also create a unique audience of people who are both fiscally and emotionally invested in the creation of your book.

It also builds a sense of exclusivity as your supporters are the only ones who’d receive your book … at least in the beginning. Services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can help host a “pre-book tour” that raises funds and a following.

Start With an eBook, Then Print

Is this your very first book? Well, maybe you should take this guide one step at a time. Given the lower financial and physical commitment of publishing an eBook, many first-time authors use that process as a springboard into the world of authorship.

Publishing an eBook allows you to get your work out there while building up a readership and garnering name recognition. Then, when you’re (hopefully) ready to publish your second book, your readers can anticipate a digital and hard copy.

Better Yet, Start With a Blog

Let’s take a step back. If this is your very first book, and you have yet to write a word much less attract an audience, it may be more realistic to start with a blog. Blogging is completely risk- and cost-free yet attracts a readership and following via email and social media. Once you drum up enough attention, then you can dive into writing a book … with the confidence that your audience will want to read that, too.

Look Local

Just like coffeeshops love supporting local farmers and art galleries love supporting local artists, indie and independent bookstores love supporting local authors. Selling books written by local authors attracts, well, local customers and celebrates the community that the shop is a part of.

Local bookstores (like coffeeshops) are community hotspots — they support the community, sponsor local programs, sell unique content (not found at national chains), and host events. When pitching to a local bookstore, consider how your book supports their mission as said hotspot and how selling your book might bring other locals there, too.

Over to You

From querying an agent to working with an indie book cover designer, there are a myriad of players in the wild world of publishing. No longer are book jacket biographies reserved for the rich, famous, or uber-successful. Anyone and everyone can publish their thoughts and ideas — including you — and this guide can help you do so.