What Geek Culture Means to Your Content Marketing

Some say that the geeks shall inherit the Earth, but I say that we already have.

Geeks have changed the world, and in doing so, have changed the perception of pop culture, fandom, and the way people interact with brands. Understanding this emergent geek culture may have an immediate and lasting impact on the way you develop your content marketing materials.

I’m a geek. I’m into classic science fiction, comics, and other niche media that was laughably out of fashion at one time. Actually, some of it still is, but I love it anyway.

The concept of “geek chic” was non-existent when I was a kid. “Geek” wasn’t a badge of honor. It was something you kept quiet, lest ye be stuffed into a locker by high school bullies.

Fandom was not organized and finding fellow fans was a covert affair. It was also gender based, making it difficult for girls to like “boy toys” and boys to embrace “girly” things. Vintage gender-based advertising guided kids to play with the toys that they were “supposed” to play with.

Geekdom has many meanings, but it is generally associated with niche culture and often clusters around comics, science fiction, fantasy, and technology. In an article in Wired titled “So What Does it Really Mean to be a Geek,” Erik Weks writes:

“One of the great reasons to identify with the word “geek” is that it gives you permission to like what you like no matter what it is. Many of us self-identify as geeks because we have been put down, excluded, and hurt by others due to our interest in “uncool” things like comic books, or board games, or computer programming.”

The majority of us conformed to the rules in public, but privately enjoyed our passions. It was easier to pretend not to like something than to endorse your passions. Continue reading

HIGHLIGHTED: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Photo of Ann Handley

Author Ann Handley

Writing is easy. Writing well is hard. (But with some practice, you can do it.)

If you’re a content marketer, you probably spend a lot of time at the keyboard. You may not think of your emails, tweets, and creative briefs as “writing with a capital W,” but it is writing nonetheless. You may as well be good at it.

Ann Handley is very good at writing. So good, in fact, that she can help you become a better writer. Ann’s bestselling book “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” is an excellent tutorial for novice and experienced writers.

I read “Everybody Writes” a few years ago when I interviewed Ann at Content Marketing World. I decided that my own writing needed a bit of improvement, so I descended on Ann’s book with my trusty highlighter. Ann’s book on writing is the book that professional writers read for inspiration and instruction. Continue reading

How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 3

In the first post of this series on content analytics, I talked about the old way of measuring your marketing content with key performance indicators (KPIs) and why you can’t rely on old measurement models for new media channels. In the second post, I offered an analytics framework for measuring content KPIs along a user-journey continuum.

This leads me to the third post in this three-part series on measurement. In this post, I’m focusing on how you can measure the actions on the page to determine how users are interacting with your content. Or not.

Of course, there’s a rather basic problem here. You want to measure the performance of your content and tools, but most reports are just measuring the page itself. We want to measure the components. Continue reading

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 2

One of the more confusing aspects of content strategy is the marketing analytics strategy. There are a lot of ways to measure the performance of your website, but when it comes to content analytics, I offer the following solution. But before we start, you may want to check out Part 1 of this three-part series.

First, consider the fact that website analytics and content analytics may not be the same thing. For example, websites like Amazon are measuring the shopping cart experience and sites like Google are measuring the speed to deliver search engine results. Both of these are valuable metrics for the performance of their sites and may not have as much to do with content as it has to do with the back-end performance and engineering of the website. Continue reading

JAWing With JK: Part 2 of a Blog Series on Visual Storytelling

Joe Kalinowski JAWS headerPart 2 of 2: Check out Part 1 “Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons” on the Content Marketing Institute website

Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons

CMI’s Jos Kalinowski on the History of the Jaws Movie Poster
Questions by Buddy Scalera. Answers by Joe Kalinowski,Creative Director at Content Marketing Institute

BUDDY:  The iconic JAWS movie poster was not the first version, right? What were some of the other versions?

JOE K: The original hard cover was black and white painted by artist Paul Bacon for Bantam Books. It was a more simplistic version of the iconic image featuring a white translucent shark veering up towards a swimmer painted in the same style. The shark had no eyes or teeth, just the recognizable shape of the shark’s head and mouth. When Bantam released the book in paperback, they revisited Bacon’s image. They hired artist Roger Kastel to use Bacon’s hardcover image as a starting point, but they were suggesting Kastel to make the image a bit more realistic and of course menacing. Kastel did such an impressive job that Universal Studios chose to use that image for the iconic movie poster. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Decks (Slideshare Experiment)

Tale of Two Decks Image

 

This is an experiment on Slideshare. This is…A Tale of Two Decks.

Let’s start at the beginning. Recently, I shared the stage with Michelle Killebrew at the Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. If you didn’t attend the event, you missed our somewhat unorthodox presentation where we told “a story about storytelling.”

Note: All videos from the ICC conference are available online. Watch the video of our Long and Short presentation. This is my Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap blog post.

Usually the best way to understand a presentation is, well, to see it presented. Realistically, there are only so many conferences any one person can attend, so a lot of us check out Slideshare for interesting and useful presentations.

We planned to simply upload the deck, but that would lose some meaning, since we can’t be there to offer the voice overs and other descriptions. I’ve uploaded other decks in the past, most of them about healthcare marketing and visual storytelling. The decks are clear during the presentation, but would be a bit vague if you didn’t see it presented in person.

This time we decided to try something different. We maintained one master deck, which we called the Original Version. Other than a few minor edits, the deck was a record of how we presented at ICC. The second was a version with comments and call outs, which we called the Annotated Version. This version included slides that we’d removed for time and added several additional slides to enhance the download experience. More on this later. Continue reading

Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap

ICC 2015 Recap Graphic

I’m tired, but I just can’t stop smiling. Travel is exhausting, but I am still energized. The things I’ve learned in this past week make all the travel an’ tribulations worth the efforts. It lifts the spirits, and I feel great.

This past week, I attended Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. It’s an annual, can’t-miss professional event for content marketers, content strategists, and content engineers. It is one of the few conferences that I depend on, quite literally, to progress my career as a content strategist. From basic concepts to advanced techniques, the ICC has guided my personal learning journey for several years.

The speakers are world-class educators who bring real-world examples to the stage. Many conferences are only about big ideas. This conference is about the big ideas and how to make them work in your organization.

After years of being the the brainchild of Ann Rockley and Scott Abel, the Intelligent Content Conference changed hands to be run by Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing and the Content Marketing World Conference. Continue reading

600,000 Years of Health Storytelling (Video)

Check out my presentation on content strategy for the web. This one includes Grok the Caveman, who was the world’s first healthcare educator.

In this presentation, I discuss how our ancestors used visual storytelling to communicate health messages. Our DNA is encoded to respond to visual stories, which we should be leveraging to share health information.

This particular presentation was delivered to our internal staff at Ogilvy CommonHealth in the Parsippany, NJ office. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my blog post “Epic Tales of Marketing Storytelling.” Continue reading

If You Can Survive This…

survive this graphic

“If you can survive this, you can survive anything.”

Those are the last words my father said to me as he dropped me off to go to wrestling camp in my senior year of high school. The coach encouraged all of us to participate in a week of intense character and muscle building with college coaches and athletes at Lehigh University.

It sounded great when the coach told us, and I begged my parents to let me go. As I stared at the bus idling in the parking lot, it felt like a huge mistake.

He nudged me out of the car, said the words, and drove off. I considered how fast I’d have to run to catch the car at the streetlight, but he was gone. I had no choice, except to survive my own poorly considered decision.

Every day of our lives and careers we are faced with decisions. Most are trivial, but sometimes we’re staring down some serious, career-altering challenges. Learning to survive is something genetically coded into our DNA, yet we often walk away from challenges that might make us better people.

There’s always going to be a challenge. Something just slightly beyond the you that you think you are and the you that you need to become in survival mode.
Continue reading