This Sunday, Google has begun posting their annual happy holidays Doodles, special Google logos. Some are animated, some are not, some are for the northern hemisphere and some are for the southern hemisphere. I’ll keep updating this story with the new Doodles Google adds each day.
As “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song played in the background, they kicked off their set with Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” and it was followed by Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” which featured sweet backing vocals from Estee and Gabby. Equally rocking were Green Day’s “Basket Case” and The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide.” “Santeria” was nonchalant and mellow. Estee threw some country in the mix with Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” Of course, no 90’s set is complete without “Wannabe,” where Estee and Gabby morphed into The Spice Girls. They also paid homage to Christmas queen Mariah Carey with “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which was appropriate due to the holiday season. Estee on the other hand, showed some angst on Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” Oscar delivered a fitting tribute to Nirvana with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the group had a great deal of fun on “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” They closed with such infectious 90’s anthems as “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182 and Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” where they left their fans yearning for more. Fortunately, there was more music for The Paramount crowd. My 2000’s Party with TRL, which featured several band members from The Fresh Kids of Bel-Air, brought us back to early the early ’00s. They began their set with a killer version of “Mr. Brightside,” and they immediately broke into “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy. Estee did Kelly Clarkson justice with “Since U Been Gone,” and Gabby tackled Avril Lavigne in a clever fashion with the punk-pop hit “Sk8tr Boi.” Estee displayed her rich, harking voice on Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life.” The Verdict Overall, The Fresh Kids of Bel-Air and My 2000’s Party with TRL were both superb at The Paramount in Huntington. Both of their sets were rocking and entertaining. They had The Paramount audience with them every step of the way. It was a fun, throwback show for all that garnered two giant thumbs up. Well done. To learn more about The Fresh Kids of Bel-Air, check out their official Facebook page.
Message your target audience on Facebook from the platforms billions of active global users.
Have one-to-one direct conversations with your customers and leads in a way that’s personalized and also scalable.
Send interactive marketing communications in an interface that’s mobile-friendly out of the box.
This is a Facebook marketing engagement super power that most digital marketers aren’t leveraging.
It’s called subscription messaging on Facebook’s chat platform, Messenger.
Facebook subscription messaging is an advanced feature that Facebook defines as the ability for a Facebook page to send non-promotional content on a recurring basis using the Messenger platform.
Subscription messages have to follow Facebook’s rules:
Falls under defined categories (news, productivity, or personal tracking).
Recipients of subscription messages have to opt-in to subscription message.
When done right, Facebook subscription messaging gives businesses and their Facebook page admins the ability to send content directly to their customers, clients or leads for free with a Facebook Messenger chatbot (i.e., marketing automation in the Messenger channel).
The catch to using this next-level Facebook engagement tactic is that Facebook has to review and approve businesses before they have permission to send subscription messages.
And the Messenger team doesn’t hand out subscription messaging permissions to every Facebook page automatically.
Instead, Facebook page admins have to request it with a short application. Luckily, that process is pretty simple.
Who Should Apply for Subscription Messaging?
Any business that wants to connect with current and potential customers on the only digital marketing channel today that can generate up to 80 percent open rates and 20 percent click-through rates.
By sending content regularly through Facebook Messenger, you get benefits that will excite any metrics-driven marketer:
60 percent to 80 percent open rates.
Response rates up to 20 percent.
Leads, conversions, sign-ups and appointments.
Send traffic to your main website or other assets for your brand.
Results in 95 percent better CPAs when compared to Facebook Ads.
If unbeatable organic reach on Facebook sounds attractive to you or for your business, then you should apply for subscription messaging.
How Do You Request Subscription Messaging Permissions?
Applying for Facebook subscription messaging is an easy process. In fact, it only takes a few steps.
Facebook’s own description of the subscription messaging request process:
Page admins may access the subscription messaging request form by doing the following:
Go to Page Settings > Messenger Platform
Under ‘Subscription Messaging’ in the ‘Advanced Messaging Settings’ section, click the ‘Request’ button.
In the form, you’ll be asked to provide the following:
A sample message and a brief description of how the bot will use subscription messaging.
Which of the three eligible subscription messaging use cases applies to your Facebook page messaging.
At least two examples of subscription messages the Facebook page will send.
A confirmation that the bot will only send non-promotional content, and will abide by all Facebook Platform policies and community standards.
However, even though the process can take mere seconds to finish, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to pay special attention to what you put in your application. The Messenger team doesn’t approve everyone all willy-nilly, so a subpar application is going to lead to a rejection.
For step one, head over to your Facebook page and go to Settings. Then click Messenger Platform and scroll to Advanced Messaging Features. From there, click Request in the Subscription Messaging box.
To complete step two, you’ll fill out a three-part application. Begin by picking a category for your content. You can choose from:
In most cases, businesses will want to use the News options, as that option gives you some flexibility and the other categories are highly specific.
You are then directed to the Details section of the application. Here, you want to give an overview of the kind of content you want to share, and you’ll need to provide a few examples. Remember, promotional content is a no-no for Facebook subscription messaging outside of the 24+1 rule, so avoid anything that even remotely seems salesy.
Instead, discuss the content and how its benefits readers in your overview. Talk about the news-worthy information you share and how it provides value. Write your description like you are talking to a person and avoid being aggressive.
Use the same mindset when writing your examples, focusing on how the content is informational and not intended to sell anything.
Finally, submit your application for approval and wait to hear back from the Messenger team.
When Should You Request Subscription Messaging?
Until December 4, Facebook had a December 31, 2018, deadline for subscription messaging requests.
But on December 4 that deadline was extended. Still, Facebook recommends that pages request subscription messaging, and I suggest requesting it now.
It takes a week to three weeks to receive approval, so it’s good to get the ball rolling today.
Today (and until Facebook says otherwise), you can send non-promotional subscription messages from a Facebook page to subscribers using a Facebook Messenger marketing app approved for subscription messaging, like MobileMonkey. (Disclosure: I work for MobileMonkey.)
If you have any plans to embrace the engagement unicorn that is Facebook subscription messaging, even if it is a little bit down the road, it’s always best to get a jump on it.
In some cases, the review process takes only a few days. However, some pages have waited months for approval. If you don’t apply now, you could be left twiddling your thumbs if Facebook makes another deadline or policy update.
It is important to note that there are 17 message types that can go through Facebook Messenger, and non-promotional subscription messaging it just one of the options.
If you are blocked from sending subscription messages, you can still send messages of any other category, including sponsored promotional messages.
But if you want the greatest free organic reach Facebook offers, you need to send subscription messages.
Tips for Getting Your Subscription Messaging Request Approved
You can increase your odds of being approved by following the rules when you apply. Don’t use promotional messages in your examples.
Remember that your application is being reviewed by a real person so you should speak to their humanity in your application.
If they find out that you aren’t adhering to the requirements, you can kiss your subscription messaging approval goodbye.
If you aren’t approved on your first attempt, don’t fret. A lot of pages are denied on their first attempt, so don’t give up.
Instead, apply again (there’s no limit to how many times you can apply, that I’ve seen) until you receive your approval. Just make sure you learn from past disapproved attempts and adjust your application.
With a little of your time and attention, subscription messaging approval will come to you, and with it, unmatched Facebook organic reach and engagement.
Screenshots taken by author, December 2018
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The Saturday before Christmas is known as either “Super Saturday” or “Panic Saturday,” depending on your perspective, and it should see higher retail foot traffic than Black Friday, according to location intelligence firm, Cuebiq. By the same token, online revenues are soaring and will continue to set records this year according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers
Super Saturday outpaces Black Friday in store visits. Cuebiq analyzed 2017 holiday visitation patterns for major U.S. retail chains, including Target, Walmart, JC Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and others. The company found that these retailers actually saw more store visits the Saturday before Christmas than on Black Friday, which is popularly seen as the high water mark for in-store holiday shopping. In 2017, Black Friday actually had about 83 percent of Super Saturday store visits.
Now is also the time when many people shift their focus back to stores because of online-shipping times. For that reason, many people will take advantage of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) where it exists. Adobe said that BOPIS shopping is up 47 percent year-over-year.
At least $126 billion. Adobe also reported that as of December 19, U.S. consumers had spent almost $111 billion online, during the holiday period, which beat 2017 online sales to that point by nearly $17 billion. And when the wrapping paper finally settles, the period from November 1 to December 31 will emerge as the “biggest online shopping period of all time” — coming in at least $126 billion according to Adobe’s forecast.
Mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) have so far been responsible for roughly 58 percent of site visits and about 39 percent of purchases. Just over $33 billion in sales have been generated by smartphones alone, which represents a 57 percent year-over-year increase.
Direct navigation the top channel. The following are the top channels for online revenue according to Adobe:
Direct site traffic — 27 percent
Paid search — 25 percent
Organic search — 21 percent
Email — 20 percent
Social media — less than 2 percent
Why should you care. Even as online shopping has surged to new levels, gone are the days of “online vs. offline” as consumer shopping patters and the customer journey have become more complex and multifaceted. More than ever online and offline shopping are interconnected.
As the data above also make clear, there are relatively distinct phases to holiday shopping, likely connected to customer personas. Retailers need to clearly understand their customers and these patterns, and manage the timing of their marketing spend, messaging and channels accordingly.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.
Google Recognizes Web Mentions But Says They Are Not Links In this mornings Google webmaster hangout, John Mueller from Google briefly touched on the concept of web site mentions without links. He said that Google would recognize a mention as a mention but he said it is not the same thing as a link. That was it – which will make a lot of SEOs scratch their heads.
Google Link Schemes Now Includes Contractually Requiring Follow Links Over the past few months, Google added to their link schemes guideliens page a line that basically says you cannot require someone to link to you without the nofollow attribute. If you require such a follow link in your terms of service, a contract or some other arrangement, then that is considered a “link scheme” by Google.
Google Winter Solstice Doodle For First Day Of Winter On the Google home page is an animated Google Doodle, logo, for the first day of Winter – the Winter Solstice. This Doodle is specific to those searchers in the Northern Hemisphere. We also have a cool animated theme here, so check it out on desktop.
John Mueller As Google AMP-Man Here is a photo that Gary Illyes from Google shared on Twitter of John Mueller peaking out from his cubicle at Google with his AMP mask on. John said he is AMPMAN and Gary described it was HTML marku
Spain on Saturday authorised a ship carrying hundreds of migrants rescued off Libya to sail to its waters after Italy and Malta refused to receive them.
The Spanish coastguard “due to the refusal or lack of response from the nearest ports, has authorised (the ship’s) movement to Spanish territorial waters,” a government statement said, with the migrants expected to spend Christmas at sea.
Libya, France and Tunisia did not respond to a request from Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms to disembark the 311 men, women, children and babies, Spain said, after Italy’s hard-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the migrants were not welcome.
“My answer is clear: Italian ports are closed!” Salvini tweeted. “For the traffickers of human beings and for those who help them, the fun is over.”
The NGO said a Maltese coastguard helicopter had taken a woman and her baby born on a Libyan beach three days ago who were among those rescued at sea by the Open Arms.
The Maltese government confirmed rescuing a newborn baby boy and his mother, 23.
Proactiva Open Arms said on Friday that it had rescued more than 300 migrants from three vessels in difficulty, including men, women — some of them pregnant — children and babies.
NGO spokeswoman Laura Lanuza told AFP that the boat was heading for Algeciras, near Gibraltar. Journey time will depend on the weather but take “five to six days”, she said.
The NGO’s sailboat Astral is headed from Badalona near Barcelona to the Open Arms with food supplies, Lanuza said.
The NGO posted a video of some of those rescued “from a certain death at sea. If you could feel the cold in the images, it would be easier to understand the emergency. No port to disembark and Malta’s refusal to give us food. This isn’t Christmas.”
After announcing the closure of Italian ports, Salvini tweeted a photo of the tortellini and sausage he had for lunch.
– Shame and calamity –
Open Arms’ founder Oscar Camps tweeted back at Salvini that “your rhetoric and your message will, like everything in this life, end. But you should know that in a few decades your descendants will be ashamed of what you do and say.”
The vessel started patrolling the Mediterranean with two other boats run by migrant aid groups off the Libyan coast in late November.
This area of the Mediterranean has been the most deadly for migrants attempting the crossing to Europe.
German NGO Sea Watch meanwhile tweeted that it had rescued another 33 migrants in difficulty, and that it was appealing for a port to be allowed to dock.
More than 1,300 migrants have perished trying to reach Italy or Malta since the beginning of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Aid groups have been sending rescue vessels into these waters despite vocal opposition from Salvini.
Accusing the groups of acting as a “taxi service” for migrants, he has denied them access to Italy’s ports. Malta too has been increasingly unwilling to host rescue vessels.
A United Nations report on Thursday said that migrants and refugees are subjected to “unimaginable horrors” from the moment they enter Libya, headed for the Mediterranean and Europe.
“There is a local and international failure to handle this hidden human calamity that continues to take place in Libya,” said Ghassan Salame, the head of the UN mission in Libya UNSMIL.
The climate of lawlessness in Libya provides fertile ground for illicit activities, leaving migrants and refugees “at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted,” the report said.
The overwhelming majority of women and older teenage girls report having been gang raped by smugglers or traffickers, the report said.
“Across Libya, unidentified bodies of migrants and refugees bearing gunshot wounds, torture marks and burns are frequently uncovered in rubbish bins, dry river beds, farms and the desert,” it said.
YouTube is a ‘reference engine’ and advertisers can leverage it to define their target audience. But like other social media platforms, brand safety must be considered.
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About The Author
Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.
We all know Google Analytics is a powerful tool for serving up actionable data. And one of the quickest ways to get that data is to be clear about what all those terms mean.
What does bounce rate mean and is it connected in anyway to exit rate? And how about sessions and page views?
If those questions sounds familiar but you’re not sure of the answers, read on…
Because as soon as you understand all the Google Analytics terms, you can begin to get closer to the actionable data you need, the kind of data you can use to increase visitors, sales, and sign-ups.
Google Analytics can show what pages you need to improve in order to rank higher in organic search. It shows you if your copy needs tweaking, keywords need updating, or meta-descriptions re-writing. It also tells you if your call to action button is converting or not.
“A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”
A user could leave a site because they lost interest, were confused, didn’t find the answer to their query, or did already found the information they were looking for.
The right kind of thinking here is this: What was the person expecting to find after searching for a keyword or key phrase. And does my site provide it?
If the bounce rate is very high, this is an indicator the site has a significant problem. Here are some helpful tips on ways to reduce bounce rate.
Alternatively, if the content is awesome and people spend a long time interacting with it, then that is known as “sticky” content.
If you’re just starting out with GA, here’s something to help get you started:
The number of times people click on your link from the search results page is the number of clicks that appears on Google’s SEO report.
Clickthrough-Rate (CTR) is the number of clicks to your site divided by the number of impressions. Impressions are the amount of times your search link is shown to a searcher. So if CTR is high, the meta description is doing its job and converting searchers to visitors. However, if CTR rate is low then it’s worth testing different headlines.
Note that these clicks are not related to Google Ads clicks. These appear in Google Ads reports.
If your site has more than one page then it has different entrance points, and Google records those separate entries.
Perhaps a blog post is performing well and bringing in traffic. Great. It might also show pages you want to be traffic-heavy are not performing properly.
Events are certain user actions that happen on the site, and are created in line with KPIs.
For example, a site might offer a free download after pressing a button. So an event gets recorded each time the button is pressed. Now we have an event, we can extract actionable data. We know how many visitors the page had, and we know how many of those people we converted into button pressers.
If an entrance page is where people arrive at your site, an exit page is where they leave.
A visitor may click through from the SERP, read the article, click on an internal link to read another article, then leave. Are there weaknesses on the exit page? This is easy to spot if one page stands out with a high leave rate.
Exit rate (% Exit)
The exit rate is calculated by dividing the number of ‘exits’ made from the page by the number of page views. However, a page with a high % exit rate may not necessarily have a high bounce rate.
But — and we said front and center these terms are confusing — a page with low exit rate is more likely to have a low bounce rate. That’s because users are probably heading to other pages on the site rather than exiting.
A hit is a request made to a web server to show a certain file. This could be a web page, an image or other things.
An event is considered a hit. A page view is a hit. All of these hits are grouped together in what Google calls a session. A session is a group of hits from one user. Google uses hits to determine the interaction between the user and the web page.
If the user takes no action for 30 minutes then Google ends the session.
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We first spoke of impression when looking at clicks. Impressions occur when your link is served up in the search results.
According to Google’s SEO Reports, impressions do not include impressions by paid Google Ads campaigns, which are recorded separately.
In short, when the user can see your link in the search results, that’s counted as an impression. And as you know, we use impressions and clicks to calculate the CTR.
Landing or entrance page
Both of these terms are used by Google to indicate the very first page a user lands on at the beginning of each session. This means in GA you can check which pages users most arrive at your site.
Page views are the number of times a visitor lands on any page of your website – these are called screen views on mobile.
Within page views, we first have unique page views. Google does not count multiple views of the same page by the same person in the same session as individual views. Instead, it counts them all as one unique view.
Then we have pages per session, also called ‘Average Page Depth’.
APD is the average number of pages viewed by a each user in one session and inside the analytics it includes repeated views of a single page.
We encountered sessions earlier on. You already know that a session is the complete amount of time a visitor spends on your website.
You also know that each action a visitor takes is recorded as a hit. And all those hits are recorded within the session. This means in a 24 hour period you might have 100 sessions and 300 hits. The hits figure is equal to or higher than the sessions number.
There is a time limit on sessions. With standard GA settings, a session is ended after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Average session duration is the average time of a user’s session and the calculation to get this is to divide the session duration by the number of sessions.
Time on page
Time on page is the average amount of time that particular visitor spent on the page. If a page is text-heavy then there’s much more chance of each session producing a greater amount of time on page.
Google records average time on page. This is a simple calculation of dividing time on page by the number of page views, minus the exit number.
Users, visitors, or traffic — which one do you need to know?
Each of these terms describes visitors who access your site. Google uses these terms as and when they want.
There is, of course, a self-evident distinction between a new visitor and a returning visitor. Traffic generally expresses the total volume of people visiting the website. But traffic is split down into categories…
Direct traffic is when someone sends you the full URL to a website and you click on that link to go directly to the site. No search has has taken place. Direct traffic is common when sending out a link to your email list. Each person would directly access the site.
Next, we have organic search traffic. Organic traffic is free and targeted, and comes about from SEO efforts to rank the site as high as possible in those all-important Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If the site is showing little to no organic search, then go back to the drawing board on the keywords in use.
Lastly we have referral traffic. This means a search engine, another website or social media site has placed a link to your web page on their site and is referring traffic to you.
Want to stay on top of the latest search trends?
Get top insights and news from our search experts.
As CTR and organic steadily drop, how can we compete in SERPs in 2019? “Zero results” update, mobile, featured snippets, and Google’s “biases.”
SEO moved beyond exact keyword matching long ago. We need content that includes related concepts, satisfies intent and provides value. Keyword tools with something new to bring to the table for understanding topics, expanding keyword lists, and diversifying organic rankings.
Top ranking factors for mobile-first indexing in order to dominate search in 2019, segmented by relevance, content, backlinks, and user experience.
Is your site’s page load time having a negative impact on SEO? Don’t sweat! Here are 5 ways to strengthen your page speed scores to improve SEO results.
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Get top insights and news from our search experts.
This week in search, Google probably did a search algorithm update last weekend – but they did not confirm it. Google’s mobile first indexing is now on over 50% of Google’s search results. Google’s notifications for mobile-first indexing are delayed. Google’s John Mueller finally gave advice on the Medic Update. Google updated their link schemes page to say if you require follow links to your site from third parties via terms of service or other legal methods, it is against their guidelines. Google is now showing how to schema in the search results. Google said you can ignore negative SEO threats, Google can detect automated links and if a random link tool can find bad links than Google probably ignores them already. Google says they do recognize unlinked web mentions. Google says linking to media mentions is okay. Google said manual action reviews can lead to more details sometimes. Most SEOs like the old Google Search Console over the new one. Google My Business updated the products beta tab. Google is testing expandable more people carousels. Google is testing a black snippet URL interface. Google is testing a pronounce search feature. That was this past week in search at the Search Engine Roundtable.
Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed:
On the song selection approach for his album, Places Like Home, Park said, “Picking the songs to be on the album was such a real, and simple process. I just knew that when I had finished writing a song, that it would have a place in Places Like Home. All of my songs come straight from events in my life, or a reflection of how I may be feeling that day; and often times I would feel in love, or in love with a situation in my life, or an overwhelming desire to empower my fans with optimism.” Park continued, “I wished to shine some light on my experiences as an artist, all the while showing just how human I am as well through some of those events. And by that, I mean to say that I show frustration, restlessness, lust, love, empowerment, and gratitude as some of the underlying tones in my songs. But what brings all those feelings together is the fact that they were all feelings enraptured by my journey, which is still far from over.” He shared that his music is inspired by life. “A song can come to fruition in an exclusive apartment party on the 35th floor in downtown, or at a grungy college fraternity house in Philadelphia on a cold December night, with all the participants singing to the sounds of Kanye West. I’m always thankful to take part in such lively and colorful events, it’s almost natural that I document the moments of my life through song,” he said. The singer-songwriter revealed that he filmed a documentary about his musical journey. “It focuses on my development as an artist as it follows in my daily routine, whether that be vocal training, dance, a writing session, music video shoot, or physical conditioning, which all lead to the hype of the release of my first debut album, as well as my first all American Tour with fellow musician Amber Liu.” He added, “Another thing you can expect in this documentary is a very real look at my past in comparison to who I am; so in many ways this documentary serves as a therapeutic process for myself, and a huge way for fans to better understand where I come from, and why I make music.” Digital transformation of the music business On the impact of technology on the music business, Park said, “Technology has definitely changed the lifespan of a hit record, which two decades prior would’ve been one to maybe two months and more. Now with technology being a driving force in enabling almost anyone and everyone to make music. The market has become very saturated and a lot the records we hear may not necessarily be hit records, but they circle the radio process for maybe one to two weeks and quickly phase out.” Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine as a musician, he said, “Technology and social media have been the best ways for me to connect with my fans, and also the quickest platform for me to find new ones. Existing fans can find out about all my new projects, as well as projects in the works, all on my Instagram page. Instagram serves as a sort of portfolio both professionally and unprofessionaly, which is something I much appreciate.” Park listed Beyonce as his dream female duet choice. “I’m just such a big fan of her work during her Destiny’s Child era. Nothing makes me happier than some of the songs on their albums. I would also love to work with Rihanna, only because I think she’s one of the most talented artists both vocally, and just overall as an excellent entertainer. I feel as if there are so many things I can learn from just being in a room with her,” he explained. For his fans, he concluded, “Keep working, keep chipping away at the wood, and maybe you will come to find that you’ve created a masterpiece. For now, keep dreaming, keep envisioning, because you never know what you’ll end up with.” To learn more about Korean-American singer-songwriter Justin Park, follow him on Instagram.