Saturday, August 27, 2011

The 3 Degrees of Content: Context, Terminology and Concept.

Content is content, right?

Have you ever gone to a web page for your industry and said, "Huh?".  Companies seemed to be so focused on getting content out there, they miss the notion of quality.  So what constitutes quality content?  I have always subscribed to what I call the 3 Degrees of Content, as outlined below:

Context.  In order for content to be relevant, the context needs to be correct.  Context issues usually occur when you have a non-industry individual or non-expert in the field write the content.  Many businesses utilize the saturation method, outsourcing their writing tasks to the lowest bidder.   What is the theme, and how are terminology and concept implemented?

Terminology.  Correct use of terminology is absolutely required, and the overuse of acronyms can kill a site quickly.  In the technical/software space, you should always shoot to provide content based on the audience.  You may even need to go so far as to create micro-sites or paths for different users to avoid "term saturation".  This is typically where you want both marketing and technical folks to work jointly on content to avoid a tech heavy feel.

Concept.  Last but not least, is concept.  What are you trying to get across?  Are you trying to sell?  Inform?  Explain?  Having an overall concept for a site, micro-site and page is critical and can go deep.  Stay on task, focus on concept, and incorporate it into your page flow, your graphics, and how you interact with users.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Social Whirlpool: How do I keep from drowning?

With so many social media platforms on the web, how in the heck do you pick your poison?  In a marketing meeting yesterday, we drew a ton of circles on a white board to map out our strategy, and plot where we are today, and where we want to go from a Social Media perspective.  I keep coming back to several core themes that will influence where we focus:

  1. Marketing is a dynamic beast, and you need to go with the flow.  New feature out?  Create a YouTube video.  Trade Show on the horizon, twitter your heart out to drive traffic to your booth.  Just established a partnership, leverage LinkedIn to insure the industry and other partners are aware.  I 
  2. Use Social Media Synergy to create a Social Web.  Sending out a press release on a new feature?  Coordinate the deployment of a video, landing page and postings to drive interest and generate leads.  
  3. Don't drown in the Social Whirlpool.  Choose your poison.  Is it really necessary to use all platforms at all times for everything?   Choose pertinent platforms for your business and strategy, and focus on quality information on those apps.
  4. Careful of the "Noise" factor.  I see it all the time on twitter where folks have automated technology to help them get their job done.  They do a BLOG post, and it auto-updates their twitter feed, with no has tags, and sometimes with replicated tweets.  Overdoing social media can lead to your company becoming ignored noise.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

So, who should write web content?

So, a concept we always struggle with internally is:  Who should write our web content?

I was checking out a contracting site the other day and noticed a ton of projects for writing web content.  Many of the companies listed were extremely technical, and i could not believe they would have a "lowest bidder" write their web info.  I scratched my head, and thought a bit.  Have you ever been to a web site within your industry, maybe a competitor, and said "Who the heck wrote this stuff?"  Improper use of terms, errors in context, and even issues with the overall concepts.  See the forest through the trees, and focus on the 3 degrees of content:  context, terminology and concept.  This is especially true within the software and technology industry.  Some key tips for making sure you hit the mark:

  1. Know your audience.  If you are in a highly technical market, and your audience is technical, your content needs to be accurate in all degrees: context, terminology and concept.  It is always advisable to have multiple reviewers, to make sure there is no lapse in credibility.
  2. Create paths within your site for different audiences.  Perhaps you create multiple subsites, or "site paths" that different users can follow depending on their depth of expertise.  For the standard users, marketing written content might be just fine, but for the technical subsite, an engineer/technologist is involved.
  3. Writing teams work best.  We all know that engineers are not always the best writers (I am one so I can say that ;) ), and having tech and marketing work together to build content is always the best solution.  Marketing folks do well in rounding out technical verse, and tech folks/subject matter experts can check for validity.  And don't forget the SEO/keyword gurus!!
  4. Third parties can be invaluable.  Having an objective third party as an overall reviewer, one with industry expertise, can help with the overall quality of the site and may help find any issues before production.
I guess it all comes down to not letting the new marketing intern write the new web site ;).  There is strength in numbers and differing experience levels.  Follow some basic rules and create great content.