2014

I went to a fascinating, intimate concert this year where the audience had an opportunity to question the songwriter about her creative process. “Every song is like a child,” she said. “I give birth to them and watch them grow up.”

That’s why it is difficult picking out the best blog posts of the year on {grow}. All 270 had some special meaning to me, so cutting it down to the top few is a tough task.

I have been blogging for nearly five years and as I looked back at the content on {grow} for 2013, I think I am just now starting to find my voice. I am the most proud of this year, which is probably a good sign that I am still moving ahead.

I know that even the most dedicated readers miss a lot of posts, so I wanted to present a few posts that stood out, either from the way they caught on, the audience response, or just because they were among my very favorites …

Posts that raised a ruckus

Dongle Incident Proves We Live in a World with No Room for Error – I have this little rule. When I feel anxious about posting a blog post, that means I MUST publish it. This was the first post I ever felt FEAR about posting because I knew I could attract an attack from hackers. Sure enough, I did and it cost me more than $1,000 to fix my site after they were through with it. Still, this had to be said.

Pimping Your Posts and the Myth of the 80-20 Rule – There is so much pressure on people to “perform” and keep up on the social web that I felt it was time to take a stand on some advice that I considered unrealistic and perhaps even dangerous. It ignited a firestorm of commentary around the web.

25 Social Media Influencers Forbes Forgot, and Why – This was another post I was quite nervous about publishing because it was the first (and only) time I launched a direct attack on a person by name. The way that Forbes has diminished its brand through schlock content is a shame but an article about social influence lit my fuse and also launched a barrage of interesting comments.

I am a Blogger. In other words, a piece of meat – The social web is a weird economy where the content creators producing the most value are treated the worst through out-right stealing. The sad thing about this post? I called out a Fortune 500 company for unethical and illegal actions and still never heard from them.

How to Beat Hubspot at its Own Game – Can a large company with dozens of bloggers still show a soul through its writing? Most said no.

Posts that made the crowd go crazy

Here’s why 100,000 people unfollowed me on Twitter — This was a funny yet useful post. In terms of pure page views, this was my number one blog post of 2013. I wouldn’t have guessed that before I pushed the “publish” button, but the social web is a fickle partner! Sometimes I can’t predict what might be popular.

Seven Digital Marketing Trends to Embrace Now — I think people loved this article (sharing it more than 2,000 times) because it was not your run-of-the-mill “forecast” post. I put some thought into this and am always happy when my audience “votes” for it with a share on Facebook, Twitter and beyond.

The One Core Secret to Social Media Success — This post introduces the idea of “rich content” for the first time, a concept I use a lot in my speeches and classes. It really is the center of social media strategy.

Social Media “Engagement” in Not a Strategy — More than 2,500 social shares. Yes, this was a VERY popular blog post! I think it struck a chord in people and the comment section is better than the blog post! In terms of page views, this was the second biggest post of the year on {grow}.

10 Reasons Why Twitter is Content Marketing’s Best Friend – Received a monster reaction to this post and it had been a long time since I wrote about my old friend Twitter. This post connects the dots between Twitter and content.

Posts that aimed high

Does Everybody Need a Social Media Strategy? — I took an off-the-wall look at companies that just may answer “no” to that question! Plus, it features Pee Cola. What more could you ask for?

What Comes After Content Marketing? Here are Four Ideas — This was a meaningful post because I have been thinking a lot about the long-term sustainability of content marketing. These are my first thoughts.

Social Media and the Forgotten Business Opportunity — A post about returning to our roots and considering how our online approach to connection is different than how we would act in real life. But why? People are people, right?

The Six Critical Questions Guaranteed to Drive Your Social Media Strategy – I think this was one of my best posts because it is straight-forward, original, and it will help a lot of people focus on the right aspects of strategy. I wrote a follow-up post showing how to put these questions into action for a strange product: How do you use social media to promote a boring product?

Posts that taught an important lesson

Five steps to establishing a content-creating culture – In some ways, this is the prototypical {grow} post and represents what I hope to achieve here — Providing a glimpse of the intersection of humans, technology and marketing in a useful and thought-provoking way!

Why a Klout score may be an appropriate marketing metric — Klout is still a hot topic and occasionally I like to insert a little logical thought into a conversation that is rarely rational!

Six extraordinary marketing trends – I am really proud of the body of new work Tom Webster and I are creating through The Marketing Companion podcast. We tackle some big topics but also have some fun by introducing our listeners to fantastic new products like Blog Juice, Google Pants and Tom’s Velvety Smooth Voice Cream. This episode was our most popular show to date and it was pretty funny too.

And one, just for fun …

If The Beatles Ran Facebook – You know, sometimes you just have to Let It Be!

Top Guest Post of the Year

In 2013 I shined the spotlight on nearly 50 {grow} community members and their writing. The number one post (by far) was What a Blog Post Will Look Like in 2020 by Mars Dorian. Mars is a regular contributor to {grow} and I am so proud of his growth as a blogger and as a business professional. His art always livens up the place! This post is a testament to his crazy, one-of-kind-style.

Post of the Year on {grow}

A Rant. In Praise of the Unremarkable. This post proves that the web rewards you when you take risks. Yes, it went viral. Yes, it had more than 200 comments and nearly 2,000 social shares. And several people told me it was the best blog post they had read in years. But you know why I loved it? It featured my grandfather.

I would like to close out 2013 with a smile — my favorite {growtoon} of 2013. Going into 2014, I have decided to discontinue running Friday cartoons as a regular feature on {grow}. After nearly three years, it is time to shake things up again with a new direction. Joey Strawn produced more than 50 original {growtoons} and this was one of my favorites. Thanks for supporting my blog everybody.

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Top illustration courtesy of BigStock.com

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