Hanging with Margot, Georgy, and Niketa

For our last class, we had a great Google Hangout with three content strategists: Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work and founder/CEO of Appropriate, Inc.; Georgy Cohen, Associate Creative Director, Content Strategy at OHO Interactive, and co-founder of Meet Content LLC; and Niketa Patel, Managing Director of Rebel Media Labs at RebelMouse.

Margot Takeaways

In terms of being a content strategist, Margot solves the same type problems she faced as a designer not through color, typography, and density of information on the page, but now verbally through style, tone, and different content types. When talking about the importance of writing as a content strategist, it is naturally a large part of her job and she considers it a form of problem solving. However, she also uses her artistic background to visually solve problems. Also coming from an artistic academic background this definitely resonated with me.

Niketa Takeaways

It was great hearing how Nikita reached out to others (in particular AJC and RebelMouse) to talk about what they were doing and how she was able to talk to them about what was happening at the organization’s content strategy-wise. Niketa also stressed the importance of setting aside time to as we say in the creative world, “work your craft.” She sets aside time to write and to learn more about what is happening in the industry. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of a project, but a content strategist must also keep up with what is happening within the content strategy community.

Georgy Takeaways

Despite the overabundance of buzzwords nowadays, Georgy reminded us that storytelling is not “a dumb buzzword.” As she so eloquently stated, “Writing isn’t words on a page, writing is in how you think, how you construct, how you have that sense of inquiry, and that sense of narrative.” As a writer it is important to be able to communicate to the audience to create a meaningful impact.

Content Strategy in a Mobile Environment

Based on the Mashable article “Why having a mobile site is now even more important,” my question concerned how does mobile affect how a content strategist performs their job. Niketa pointed out that it was very important to deconstuct a story and tell it in a more concise way. With the growing emphasis on visual content, it must also be created with mobile in mind.

Margot also brought up the fact that the current editorial/publishing culture will play a large part of creating a mobile content strategy. Traditional long-form content creators may need to learn how to adjust their writing to fit a modular platform. So although Margot thought that content did not necessarily need to be short, she agreed with Niketa the importance of creating chunks of content that is more suitable for mobile devices.

Georgy brought up a great point that mobile platforms force content strategists to revisit core questions like what content is being created, what is important, who are we talking to, and most importantly, what does the content need to reach the audience. These are issues that were not a problem a few years ago. Georgy doesn’t think that this is a problem and as Margot brings up the mobile web forces brands a chance to go back to the fundamental questions that should be asked at the beginning of any initiative.

Final Thoughts

As emphasized by all three women and even what I’ve seen reading the occasional Twitter chats, the content strategy community is friendly and willing to share their insights with others. Sometimes, it may lead to future employment, but it will always make you a better content strategist.

Post Script

I also enjoyed this chat on a more personal level–Margot was a fellow creative, artistic person; Georgy was a fellow nerd who geeks out about the Internet and technology; and Niketa was my fellow South Carolina and Atlanta connection (yes, I have heard about Francis Marion and was actually accepted there). Thank you Kelly and Jenn for getting such a great panel.

4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

You’ve got this awesome idea for a blog post, right? Now all you have to do is write and publish the post then you’re going to get thousands of views and incredible engagement. Man, I wish it was that easy.

Actually, there’s quite a bit that goes into a blog post and it’s not just about the writing. It all revolves around having an excellent content strategy.

 

1. Develop Your Organization’s Content Strategy

First thing first. You need to make sure your content strategy for your organization, company, or personal blog is good to go. According to Margot Bloomstein, “content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” (2012). Oh, and while developing your strategy, make sure you’re addressing the following:

  • Creation: What will it consist of? Why? Where will it come from? Who will be in charge?
  • Delivery: Where will your new content go? How are you going to post and share this with your users?
  • Governance: How are you going to update your content and keep it fresh? How are you going to evaluate its effectiveness?

2. Design Your Website to be Easy on the Eyes

The best content you’ve ever created is worthless if no one spends time on your site. So make sure your website is easy on the eyes and easily navigable. A mess of unrelated advertising, too many colors, and too many links (just to name a few) can easily distract the reader and get him or her lost within your site. When that happens they’re going to quickly click away. And no one wants that.

Great Blog Web Design

Keep it clean and easily navigable to keep your readers interested.

3. Write an Easily Scannable, Highly Engaging Blog Post

Yes, a well-written blog post is still critical for success. This is going to be what keeps your readers coming back for more. When writing a post, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Keep it short and scannable. Because we’re all short on time.
  • Mix up your content a bit. Words are awesome, but don’t forget about video, photos, graphics, polls, podcasts and more.
  • Keep it engaging. Pose a question or call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your post.

4. Follow-Up With Your Blog Post

Lastly, your new piece of content that you just published needs a bit of help to push it over the top. The proper distribution, search engine optimization (SEO), and following up with some analytics will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your posts. Come back to your content regularly and actively engage with those who post comments on the article and your social profiles. You can also refurbish any of your content that isn’t time sensitive. If that lengthy article you posted 6 months ago can easily be turned into a sweet graphic or video that can easily be consumed and shared, why wouldn’t you do it?

Share Blog Post on Social Networks

Great content will want be shared—make it easy for the user to do.

This will surely get you on your way to writing a killer blog post. Each of the 4 steps must all work together and none can stand alone. Start by focusing on your content strategy and when in doubt, always refer back to it. This will help to ensure you’re creating useful and usable content for your users that’ll stand out among the rest.

Think you have it down? What other steps do you take to create a killer blog post?

 

3 Reasons Why Your Blog Posts Blow

(Image courtesy of George Redgrave)

If the only comments on your blog are from spammers advertising the latest scams, there may be an opportunity to improve the quality of your blog posts. Only the blog and its postings should be doing the advertising. Fortunately, the very nature of a blog makes it an inexpensive, 24/7 online marketing campaign for a company or organization. Unfortunately, just as there are brilliant marketing campaigns, there are others that make you ask yourself, “What were they thinking?” Don’t let your blog become the latter.

5 Ws

Remember when we learned the Five Ws in school — who, what, where, when, and why? Just as these 5 questions are used to tell a story, they can also be used to create a better blog post:

  1. Who is your target audience for the blog post? Author Yvonne Lyons noted in “Blogging: 34 Things that You’re Doing Wrong” that you cannot create content, if you don’t know your audience,
  2. What is the story you are trying to share? In the “The Ultimate Guide to Blogging,” author Joe Pulizzi recommends creating useful and interesting content that moves the reader to respond. Such Calls to Action include commenting, sharing, or connecting through social media.
  3. Where does the blog post fit in terms of the content categories? A regular column may result out of frequent topics and/or posts.
  4. When do you share your content? The latest trending topic will not always apply to your brand so developing an editorial calendar will help you schedule relevant content continuously.
  5. Why are you sharing the blog post? If the post, doesn’t relate to your brand, then focus on one that does.

TL;DR ( Too Long; Didn’t Read)

(Image courtesy of Clint Hamada)

I’m sure that this phrase has appeared in the comments section of a few blogs that you visited. The fact that someone would rather respond to his/her fellow commenters than read your blog post is a bad sign—especially when the commenter clearly states that one issue is the post is too long. As Dotmarketing points out in their best practices piece “Writing for the Web,” a person tends not to read every word that appears in a blog post and instead scans it. Yes, the hours spent agonizing over writing the perfect post will most likely result in only a quick read through by the intended reader. So keep your post short (between 400 – 1000 words) to allow the reader to enjoy your post during a break. If a visitor is willing to take time out to scan your blog for a few minutes during their busy day, then honor his/her time.

Like, +1, RT

(Image courtesy of Melbourne Streets Avant-garde)

After following my earlier recommendations, you have created your best blog post yet. You post your masterpiece on your blog, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.

Not so fast.

Remember your only previous commenter was some mother from Springfield who makes $77 an hour on the Internet.  I’m sure that she’s a lovely lady, but she’s not your target audience. You need to find your true audience.

  1. Help Google find your blog post.

Find out the most frequently used search terms that relates to your blog post and then incorporate these popular terms within your blog post title, content, and tags.

2.   Use social sites to spread the word.

The Ultimate Guide to Blogging,” author Joe Pulizzi suggests doing things like asking people on Twitter to help promote your blog. Another suggestion was to use social bookmarking sites like Digg to post your content, which will hopefully be shared by others.

3.  Post helpful comments on similar blogs.

A quality comment can help you develop relationships within the same community (fellow bloggers and commenters alike), generate traffic to your blog, and will hopefully create a new audience following.

My hope is that these tips will help get the word about your great organization or company. With so many blogs currently out there with new ones continuing to be added, it is getting harder to be seen on the Internet.  However, if you follow the 5 Ws, keep it short, and then spread the word, you can develop a faithful legend of followers and not just spammers.