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This may be old news to a lot of you, but I keep seeing enough pieces of content out there - blog posts, eBooks, articles, you name it - that are unattractive enough for me to not even consider opening them. The sad thing is that many of them are probably great sources of information and value. What a waste!

So how can you boost the attractiveness of your content right off the bat? Here are five ways.

  1. Make a good title. Sound like a broken record?  Make sure it describes what the topic is about enough to make the body of the content obvious.  No use tricking them, right?  Freebie: It’s well known that lists - “Five Ways to…..” or “10 Killer apps that…” - attract a ton of views in general, so keep that in mind.
  2. Describe it well. If you are posting your content anywhere - be it Twitter, LinkedIn, an email - make sure to it’s  clear what the content is about (same as with your title).  If you have room for a short sentence or two, that’s even more opportunity to tell readers what it’s about, and why they need to read it.
  3. Share in multiple channels, but don’t abuse them. If you have a variety of places to share your content, by all means do so.  You might have an eBook that’s great for one network, and a blog post that would be a good conversation starter on another.  Find the places where your topic areas apply as closely as possible, as those are the people that will find the most value out of them, which is the best traffic you can get.  However, be careful not to over post.  If you’re a member of multiple LinkedIn groups that are similar in focus, you’ve seen the offenders of this…. the same exact “Discussion Topic” on about five of your digest emails.  I’m unlikely to click to your content if I know you just posted it in 100 places…..
  4. Publish at the right time. This requires a little bit of traffic analysis, but after you get some readers to your blog, you can start to experiment with when you post and what times and what types of content get the most views.  This may not be so easy to do with things like eBooks or white papers unless you’re publishing them regularly and to the same types of networks, but in some cases may still be applicable.
  5. Keep your content in your back pocket. Don’t be afraid to dig up older content and reintroduce it when the perfect time arises.  I’ve often been in online conversations where a six-month old blog post was just the right thing.  Again, these are the times when your content is entirely applicable to the discussion, which means if you add it, folks are likely to click right on it, especially if you’ve nicely worked in to your train of thought.  As a reader, I’ve also found some excellent content producers because I’ve happened upon older pieces of content and started to explore.

Anything else you can do to rock your content before it’s read?

I was just catching up on some podcasts, and listened to Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation Episode #184 with Jason Falls from last week.  I was listening intently - more intently than I normally do to Six Pixels - because not only am I huge fan of Mitch, but I’m also a really big fan of Jason, who blogs over at Social Media Explorer, and I like both of them for roughly the same reason.

They create awesomely high-quality content on a very regular basis.

So I was delighted when they touched on this topic briefly in their discussion:

We’re finding that some of the people who are really standing out may be producing lower quantity content, but it’s of way higher quality.

[Note: That was my summary, not quite verbatim].

Coming from these two, this was spot on.  Focus on creating quality content. As many of you know, I pass on a lot of content through various outlets.  Jason and Mitch are definitely in my Top 10 of “People Who’s Content I Pass Along” because it’s always great.

However, it got me thinking about how this plays out in the client-agency relationship.  As an agency or consultancy, most of the clients we’ve worked with so far have at least some level of timidity/hesitancy about instituting a social media plan, and, as a result, often need some hand holding during the process.

This means that frameworks and guidelines are put into place, along with calendars and expectations.  When it comes to content, there’s also that part of the pitch that says “MUST UPDATE FREQUENTLY!” So you inevitably need to put process behind it, which your clients buy into.

So, while the idea of having a strategy that focuses on quality content - which can often feel intangible in the business world - sounds like the best way to go (aright, it IS the best way to go), it doesn’t necessarily jive with the realities of an agency-driven social media marketing program.

We all know that value takes time. And for our purposes time costs money, usually a predetermined amount.

Let’s use a simple example. Let’s say a client social media program has blogging at it’s center, so it’s where most of the content will be produced.  As the agency, we work with an internal team of people who are the “bloggers-to-be” of the company, but we’re starting out with the bulk of the content production.   We put a “calendar” in place for posts, and here are our choices for conversations:

  • “For this retainer, we’ll either give you Level One blog posts - our lowest level of value (but trust us it’ll still work) - at three times a week, Level Two posts at twice a week, or Level One - our most valuable content - at once a week. It’s your choice.”
  • “Well, we like to take the value in one super valuable post and break it into three posts, each with 1/3 the value, so if you do the math, it’s kinda like having one super valuable post but you get more pieces of content up, which we told you was important.”
  • “Oh, you’re wondering why we didn’t put up our first two posts this week? Well, we’re really trying to feel the vibes over here and wait for the moment when the value just pours out.  So we’ve lit some incense and we’re really feeling good that it’s going to come for Friday’s post. High-intensity value.”

Hmmm, I’m thinking these aren’t conversations that will keep us employed for very long.

So then, if we’ve decided that quality is better (which we’ve long ago decided), and Mitch and Jason have hinted at a shift towards perhaps less quantity and more quality - something that sounds like it could also be less scheduled and planned out, but we’re also bound to calendars and we’re communicating with clients who really might not wholly embrace a slightly more ambiguous quality-focused strategy, rather than a little more structured strategy.

We all get this concept, and have gotten it for a while, but our a lot of our clients may not have.

How do we have this conversation? Is it simply a matter of charging more for services? Do we as an industry simply start demanding highest-quality from our content producers (thereby offering highest-quality to our clients), no matter what? Or do we need to start having different conversations with our clients and those we’re trying to educate?And if so, how do we do that in a way that inexperienced people can still feel like there’s something concrete to grasp onto?

What are citizen journalists’ roles in documenting conflict and are those roles becoming more important?

Led by Patrick Meier, a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, I’m happy to report that we’ve just completed the first of (hopefully) several case studies that attempt to answer this question more concretely.

Supported by Humanity United, the project seeks to explore the changing role and impact of information communication technology in crisis early warning and humanitarian response.  The eventual goal is to identify ways in which citizen journalists and new communications tools can work more effectively in crisis situations.


Patrick did a really good job of writing up the methodology at his blog, so I’m going to leave wheel inventing up to him.

The exciting thing for me was to see the way in which new media tools were being used by citizen journalists, specifically how much more effective they seemed to be in disseminating on-the-ground, real-time information than the mainstream media was.  The effects of efforts like Ushahidi also contain incredibly valuable information for future research.

Our preliminary findings:

  • Mainstream media reported actual death count before citizen journalists; however, on many accounts, mainstream media did not report on incidents leading to actual deaths, i.e., early warning signs;
  • Citizen journalist reports and Ushahidi reports did not overlap geographically with mainstream media reports;
  • Citizen journalists tended to report as soon as violence started, well before mainstream media;
  • The number of comments on citizen journalist blogs increased during the 30-day period, or during particular periods of violence;
  • The comment section was also used as a medium for real-time updating;
  • Many citizen journalist bloggers used real-time updates sent to them via SMS, primarily from rural areas;
  • Citizen journalism reports declined after the launch of Ushahidi;
  • Ushahidi reports document an important number of violent events not reported by the mainstream media and citizen journalists;
  • Contrary to news media and citizen journalist reports, Ushahidi data always had specific location information;
  • Ushahidi reports also covered a wider geographical area than both mainstream news and citizen journalist bloggers.

For further information on our project’s methodology and sources, please see this short powerpoint presentation (pdf) which we have also uploaded on Slideshare. For more on crisis mapping, please see this page.

Some follow up questions that we identified as being interesting off-shoots of this project are:

  1. What was the role of SMS messaging in the overall information chain?  How does it differ across the country (rural vs urban) and what are some of the most effective ways that this medium was (or could be) used?
  2. What was the role of blogs in mainstream media information gathering?  Were they a resource?  What about Human Rights organizations?  If so, is there anything we can learn about how to make that information more effective in terms of crisis response?
  3. Can efforts such as Ushahidi be replicated in other areas, or have there been similar efforts?

We hope to refine the process as we move forward, and with that being said, we’d love feedback as possible on both methodology and analysis, as well as the visualization.  We’re looking to clean the whole package up moving forward, so this would be very helpful.

Our next case study will be Georgia.  Please contact me if you’re interested in joining the team.

I had a good friend ask me for a couple of blogs and publications to read to get up-to-speed on the new media space as she interviews for marketing positions in her last year of business school.  I thought I’d share them with everyone while I was at it.  Keep in mind, this isn’t my complete list of new media blogs, but the ones I thought would be most helpful for her starting out.

  • Tara Hunt at Horse, Pig, Cow - Knowledgeable on the field, and focuses a little more on the societal aspects of this (for instance, she’s conducting Hero Camp next week, which I very regrettably can’t go to).
  • Tom O’Brien at A Human Voice
  • Adam Cohen at a thousand cuts - He’s a numbers guy by profession (works in SEO) but has great insight all around.  Also a really nice guy.
  • Chris Brogan - He’s very knowledgeable and very well-respected in the field.  He writes frequently and is usually on top of the industry.
  • Zach Hofer-Shall at &. - Does a good job of highlighting the shift between old Web and Web 2.0.  And again, a nice guy.
  • The Collective Intellect Blog
  • HubSpot’s Blog - Good for numbers and measurement stuff.  And they’re pretty light-hearted. Oh, and cool product to boot.
  • iMedia Connection - Great for everything, they have a ton of industry experts writing for them.
  • David Armano at Logic & Emotion
  • Mashable - Good for industry news.
  • Brian Solis at PR 2.0
  • Mitch Joel at Twist Image - I like this blog a lot, it’s on top/ahead of things.
  • Social Media Explorer

I also gave her this blog

Do you have any to add?  Feel free to pass along a link.

Today is Blog Day, and as mentioned a few days ago, I’ve picked out 5 blogs that I’d like to showcase.

AfriGadget is a website dedicated to showcasing African ingenuity.  A team of bloggers and readers contribute their pictures, videos and stories from around the continent.  The stories are inspiring.  It is a testament to Africans using the little they have to their will, using creativity to overcome life’s challenges.  Serving as Editors are: Erik Hersman, Steve Mubiri, Juliana Chebet, Juergen Eichholz, and Paula Kahumbu.

La Marguerite: This is the blog of Marguerite Manteau-Rao, and it focuses on behavioral solutions to global warming and other global environmental challenges.  We really like the environment here at Other Side and think this informative blog covers a lot of great issues in a very easy-to-read way.  And in case you find her words interesting, she also does marketing consulting on green and sustainability initiatives.

Photography is fun, and I wish I were better at it (or good at it period).  I came across Thomas Hawk’s SmugMug cameraroll after I decided to follow him on FriendFeed, as he was connected to one of my friends and I found his feeds interesting.  He has some really neat shots, and, at least so far, seems to update them frequently (new pretty things to look at!).

Ampers & Dot: This is the blog of Zach Hofer-Shall, who writes mostly on the Web 2.0 space.  Zach is currently a researcher at Forrester, and worked previously as a social media consultant.  This may be cheating a little bit on Blog Day rules, since he’s in my industry and I’ve been reading his blog for a bit now, but his posts are consistently insightful and full of solid information.

Kennysia is a blog by Kenny Sia, who lives in East Malaysia.  He updates his blog often with stuff on his life, anything, and it’s really cool to follow.  Part of the goal of Blog Day is to bring people to different parts of the world, and I feel very strongly about this aspect (hey, i got a degree in International Relations for a reason).  His ramblings are great, and it’s fun to collow someone around in their life on the other side of the world.

Blog Day 2008

Aside from our participation in Blog Action Day, we’ll also be trying to promote five fellow bloggers in Blog Day, which was “created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest.”

We may include one blog from our industry, but will try and diversify (which will be easy for me to do).

You may have come across this in the last few days, but Vimeo has challenged the blogging community to a Blog Action Day, “to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.” The topic will be on poverty. Hopefully you can join!

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

I wanted to respond to Umair Haque’s blog posting of last night after a night of thinking. There are a few things I’d like to say.

1) I admire Umair and respect his thoughts on where business is going today. It’s something I also feel strongly about, and, for the most part, agree with him on. In fact, one of my own professional goals is to address many of the issues that Umair does in his blogs.

2) That being said, you can read the comments to his post, including mine, on how they people about his recent tone. No need to address further.

Most importantly, however, I’d like to amend my original Tweet/comment, and give Umair a little credit (Twitter doesn’t offer a whole lot of space to do so). He didn’t post his almost immediate response to my Tweet, which was a statement allowing me to feel the way I felt, but also included a question about what it was that was turning me off to his blog. That, combined with his post, led me to the following thoughts on him (keep in mind, I have never met him, although would like to):

“This guy is legit. He expressed himself passionately, held true to his beliefs, but was consequently very open to being received respectfully by the very audience to which he’s communicating. He accepted constructive criticism (and my criticism could very well have not been taken constructively), opened up the floor for more, explained himself, but did not give up what he does feel strongly about. Since the time when I could be a judge of character, this has always gotten a thumb’s up in my book.”

It also made me really think about my own presence. This is what else I came up with:

“Here I am, new to the scene. Sure, I have an MBA and an MA, some might call me bright, but I’m soft. Most of the time, I’m too soft. I read many of the top blogs, from Umair, to Guy K, to Tara, to Pam, to Chris and so on, and I think to myself that I don’t know “it” like they do. I have strong thoughts, but what do I know? Sure again, I’m starting up a company because I want to do something I truly love, but boy I still have a lot of proving to do! I should give Umair more credit than I did. He isn’t afraid to come out and say it. Darnit Kate, maybe you can learn something from him.”

And so, I will. While I do hope that Umair communicates his thoughts in a less abrasive way (I tend to give more credence to passionate, well-communicated, but non-confrontational thoughts…), I also hope that he doesn’t compromise the strength with which he puts those thoughts forward. In other words, keep up the passion, but just change the method.

This is where my own change comes in. I am going to make a personal effort to unsoften myself a bit. To express the passion that I do have about these issues and be confident in the ideas in my head that I know are good ones.

And to end, a personal note to Umair:

I will meet you halfway between these two extremes, perhaps someday in person, but at least here. At that point, I stand true to my comment last night and would like to help….. actually, my new mindset begs another word…. I would like to collaborate…. And get things done, ideas communicated and people on board. Until then, I will kick myself in the butt a little harder. Thank you.

One of the blogs I subscribe to, AVC, posted the following on their site:

A couple years ago, we put up a blog post on the Union Square Ventures weblog and said that we wanted to hire an analyst. The deal was simple - no phone calls, no resumes, no emails - just a link to your web presence. We hired Andrew as a result of that effort and it was a great fit for everyone.

So we are doing the exact same thing again.

While, most unfortunately I don’t think I’d get the job based on my relatively low-level of web presence (it’s ok, I’m not exactly looking for a job right now, but perhaps we can work together in some manner in the future AVC?), this, I have to say, is incredibly cool.  I’m a believer that a resume is a resume, and there are too many things beyond that resume that are important but widely ignored.  AVC recognizes this.

The  important thing AVC recognizes is the increasing power and effectiveness of the web.   You can probably deduce a lot from how someone portrays themselves on the web.  Firstly, they probably have the equivalent of their resume connected to their online selves anyway, as they’re usually a desire to legitimize what they’re putting forth.  To boot, whatever embellishment someone might put on the web, they would probably put on their resume anyway (so you’re not winning or losing either way).

Secondly, you can really get a sense of what someone is all about from what they’re doing online.  Are they succinct and knowledgeable?   Are they linked to billion unmanageable identities, does it mean they take on too much?  Are they attentive to details? Are they mean and nasty or respectful?  Do they like what they do, what they write about, or are they just trying to “be somewhere”?

Who knows, this could start a new trend.  I would be weary if it were to turn into a big fad too quickly, as I think there could be mistakes involved (who’s assessing what makes a good web presence anyway?), but I think there are a few companies or industries that could pull this off.

Caps off to AVC.  And look, they’ve already got proof of concept in their favor.

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