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.

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.

Three Tips for Writing a Fantastic Blog Post

2312596915_dea8339cf2_zA blog can be a fantastic asset for a brand. Among other things, it allows the brand to control its own message, boost search engine optimization and helps craft an identity online. But a blog is useless unless its updated frequently and effectively. A blog post needs to capture the audience’s attention and hold it throughout the entire post. It also needs to deliver some sort of value to the brand, which is often easy to forget. It’s important to know company goals and values before embarking on a blogging journey so that you know what direction to take every post. But you can’t accomplish any of these things if your blog isn’t properly structured.

Here are three easy things you can do to help create a great blog post:

1. Think of a catchy title.

A catchy blog post title is the best way to capture your audiences attention. Your blog post can’t be great if no one is reading it, and no one is going to click on it if your title is boring. It’s the first thing people see, so it sets the tone of the entire post. The title shouldn’t be ambiguous. People should know what they’re in for the moment they click on the post. This makes it easy for the people who know what they’re searching for. This blog post, for example, is targeted at people writing blogs. Those blog writers are likely to search for ways to improve their blogs and when they see the title, they’ll know this post will help.

2. Link to other bloggers.

Why would I link to a competitors blog? Then all my traffic will also go to them and I wont be setting myself apart. While that type of thinking made sense at one time, in the world of online blogging, linking to other blogs is a great thing.  The Internet, and especially blogs, are all about an open exchange of ideas. If you’re not linking to other blogs, you’ll be seen as less reputable. It would be like writing an academic paper without sources.

3.  Don’t write a novel, but tell a story.

According to Anagard, the average Internet user’s attention span is just six seconds. Of course, that attention span will expand if you’re distributing great content, but it emphasizes the fact that audiences are no longer interested in long-form writing like they once were. Try to write in a concise way and get your point across in as few words as possible. But just because you’re not writing an extremely long post doesn’t mean you can’t still tell a story. The story is what is going to keep the reader hooked. Don’t sacrifice your story by using too few words.

 
Photo via P4BLoX