Content Strategy and eBooks

Marvel Comics on iPad

The easiest thing to do is wait. When a new technology seems to be bubbling up at the edges of conversation, most people just wait. Wait to see how it turns out. See if it takes off.

When it comes to ebooks, the wait is over. Done. The handwriting is no longer on the wall; it’s being downloaded to your iPad.

Old Models, Redefined
The book business is faring much better than the music industry did when digital changed their business model. As millions of songs were being downloaded in the 90s, music companies were busy protecting their old-media distribution channels. At one time, music stores dotted strip malls and city street. Now, most are gone. Apple redefined their distribution model.

The next to be hit was the video business. Torrents made pirating easy. And since people already had home-entertainment centers, the devices of consumption were already in place. The studios were also slow to move, sticking with DVDs for too long. NetFlix was already busy redefining their distribution model. Continue reading

Guy’s Guide to Pinterest: Pinning Testosterone

Guy's Guide to Pinterest

Guy's Guide to Pinterest

The statistics are incredible. According to ComScore estimates, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network ever.

In this age of social networking sites, you’d think that we had enough places for people to like and share stuff. Apparently not.

But a curious thing happened on their way to becoming an Internet phenomenon. Pinterest became an overwhelmingly female destination. By some estimates Pinterest is to 50% to 70% female. Everyone has an opinion about why Pinterest attracted so many women and what it means for social media marketing.

If you’re a male, you’re probably wondering why you should bother with Pinterest. Well, for one, it’s really kind of fun. (I hated typing that sentence, but it’s true.) It’s also a platform that shows huge potential for marketing and branding, since people are sharing the products and services that they love. If your campaign includes content marketing, you know that great product images can help your brand message go viral.

For a change, though, I am not here to talk about your content strategy or anything marketing-y like that. I’m here to help the fellas out there get started with Pinterest. Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea lightbulb

Did that lightbulb in your head just go on? Maybe it’s coming from the Idea Etherverse.

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. As a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency, people look to my creative services team for fresh ideas.

They appreciate unique angles, bursts of inspiration, and the proverbial lightbulb-over-the-head.

Yet, that creativity doesn’t just come from “the creatives.” Not at all.

Ideas can come from anyone in any role, if you encourage people to express their own ideas. Account managers, project managers, quality assurance testers, proofreaders, and traffic coordinators have come up with ideas that rival the best copywriters, art directors, and other people typically associated with “ideas.”

The problem? Most “non creative” people feel boxed in by the words printed on their business cards. They incorrectly assume they are less qualified to share new ideas or whatever. It’s really just “whatever.”

 

The Big Secret Revealed: Where Creativity Comes From

For a few years, I worked as a professional comic book writer (which was outstanding training for new media). At comic book conventions, fans and aspiring creators would sometimes ask where I got my ideas. Continue reading

Write a Website, Not a Novel

Stack of keyboards

Write less. Write better.

Never use ten words, when you can say it in five. Never use a ten-buck word, when a five-buck word will do.

These are old phrases that I remember from my days working as a journalist. The idea was not to dazzle people with your thesaurus, but to communicate and report your story. Save the flowery language, they used to say, for your novel.

If you’re developing your content strategy for your new brand website, be sure to include a section in the style guide about writing. Let your whole team know that the purpose of your website is to serve the needs of your users. It’s not an opportunity to stretch your legs as a writer and express yourself with brilliant prose. Continue reading

Why Klout and Social Influence Really Matter

Klout.com Logo

Klout.com is a social influence measurement tool.

What’s your Klout score? It’s a question that you hear more often, particularly if you’re in the agency world.

So what is Klout and why is it important? That’s the more important question!

First off, if you haven’t tried it yet, go to Klout.com. If you’re signed into Twitter, it will ask you to connect your two accounts. Twitter has a pretty good application programming interface (API), so you can link two different services and share data. It’s pretty easy.

At first, Klout will probably give you a low score because it does not know how you interact with other Twitter users. But in time, it will give you some indication of your “influence.” You can read about how Klout scores influence, but suffice to say, it attempts to measure how many people repeat (or retweet!) what you say. It’s a modern, online version of how cool you are among your peers.

The mechanics of Klout aren’t as important as the concept behind social validation. So what is social validation and why should you care? Glad you asked! Continue reading

Mobile Video, NetFlix, and Mass Transit

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

As I was riding the bus to work this week, I observed at least two people streaming Netflix to iPads.

The lower-end iPads include WiFi, but the upgraded models offer 3G wireless service. That makes it easy to stream Netflix wherever you are. Like, for instance, the bus.

This may seem like a minor point, but for content creators and content strategists, it is a significant development worth considering. For example, as you develop your content strategy, you’re probably thinking primarily about the website and mobile experience. This means a robust website that scales appropriately for mobile users.

If you create transmedia assets, you may also be thinking about familiar channels like YouTube and Vimeo for video. Maybe Slideshare for presentations. Perhaps an eBook on Amazonor at BarnesandNoble.com. Again, this all makes sense.

Have you considered the bus? I mean, you know that mobile users are accessing your website on mobile device, and they may be on a bus. But when you think about long-form streaming video, you probably aren’t thinking about an iPad 2 streaming video on a bus. Continue reading

Paid Content And Your Content Strategy

A few years back, I wrote a post titled Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web. (Still brilliant, I know.)

By this point, I would have expected that the pay model for content would have changed, but for the most part, it has not. The web remains mostly free and will probably remain that way for quite some time.

There has been, however, an interesting shift in the tablet world. First the Kindle and then the iPad have nudged people along to pay for content. It’s not a mass movement, but it is a step in the direction where content creators can eventually charge something for their content. As such, content strategy will need to evolve to reflect this slow evolution back toward paid content.

Back when I got my first Kindle, there was a small, but growing library of ebooks. Many were free, some were as inexpensive as 99 cents, and others were around $9.99. It wasn’t a bad price for content, especially for those 99 cent books. Downloading and payment was easy, so the barrier to purchasing new content was low. Continue reading

Content Strategy Tip – Write Awful Content

Here’s a novel content strategy for you. Make some awful content. And when you’re done with that, make some more bad content.

How is that “content strategy,” you ask? Good question.

This year I published a book called “Creating Comics from Start to Finish.” It’s a book for people who aspire to create comic books. I included a section for writers where I offered the concept of the “Rule of 10.”

I won’t go into the whole thing (buy the book), but the Rule of 10 is all about practice. Specifically, if you are a writer, you need to create 10 stories before you even dare to pitch your stuff to an editor. By writing these 10 stories, you will write through your clichés and stiff storytelling. You will write through your amateurish experimentation, which nobody should have to pay for. Continue reading

Want to Write Better Content? Ask a Designer

Writers write. That’s what we do, right?

While we’re at it, maybe we should build a wall between us and those pesky Web Designers. Right? Wrong. Very wrong.

Back when I broke into this Internet business (circa 1995), there wasn’t a big difference between writers, web designers, and programmers. If you wanted to create for the web, you pretty much had to learn the technical tricks to get it up there. Basic HTML, Photoshop, etc.

To learn about design, I spent time with print designers. They taught me critical lessons about how to control the eye on the page.

The most important thing they taught me was to…write less.

Designers often use white space to draw attention to a specific element in the layout. Most designers are excited about using their talents to help you communicate your message. But if you weigh it down with too much copy, it ties their hands.

Review every sentence, headline, subhead and picture caption. Ruthlessly trim the total number of words.

If you’re developing website copy, run a draft past a designer before submitting it to your clients. Designers will help you understand how much will fit on a page…and how much will suck the life out of the design.

The web is a visual medium. And writing less copy is one of the best ways to deliver messages with visual impact.