Posted on April 6, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy | Tags: brand, branding, communication, competitive analysis, content, content analysis, content audit, content strategy, editorial strategy, engage your audience, marketing communications, message map, messaging, podcast, point of differentiation, text, user-friendly, Video, web, web site, web strategy, website |
It’s a popular catch-phrase of many a marketer.
But how many actually practice what they preach?
Talking the talk and walking the walk are two different things. From what I can tell, there’s a heck of a lot more talking than walking.
Generic content abounds
Case in point: I’m working on a consulting job where I recently completed a competitive analysis of approximately two-dozen websites belonging to organizations all operating in the same field of business. The analysis considered a variety of factors including website design, information architecture, branding, content and use of social media.
I observed discernable differences in design, user friendliness and overall site organization. Certain sites had more videos and podcasts. This seemed mainly a sign of financial standing — the well-off places can afford more of these assets.
The character and tone of web text ranged from technical to institutional to consumer-friendly. Meanwhile, the messages and information contained in text and videos for nearly all sites was so similar as to be interchangeable. “We have innovative cutting-edge technology, teams of experts, personalized service.” Blah, blah. Yadda, Yadda.
Content is often created in a vacuum
When everyone’s saying pretty much the same thing you’re not making a case for why to choose your product or service over someone else’s.
All too often organizations create content in a vacuum. Their goal is to meet business objectives and state their offering.
But really, that’s the least you can do. For content to be king you must present compelling distinctions that make someone think, “Ah, now there’s a difference that matters to me. I’ll go with this one.”
It isn’t just about you, or even your customers. It’s also about your competitors.
It’s the difference between being a commodity and being a preferred choice.
Put your website to the test
Surely this is not news. Still odds are if you conduct a competitive analysis of websites for businesses operating in your industry you’ll notice a lot of repetition.
In fact why not do it? Visit the websites of your competitors. Read the text, view the videos and listen to the podcasts. See if you can pick out even a handful of differences in content and messaging. I mean real points of singularity, not simply using other words to say essentially the same thing. Be sure to include your own site in the analysis.
If your content stands out, more power to you. If not, start planning for how to make it so.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: 140 Characters, 2009 word of the year, communication, messaging, microblogging, popular word, short form writing, SMS, Social Media, social media statistics, social media trends, social network, social networking, Social Networks, style guide for the short form, The Global Language Monitor, Twitter |
Can you guess what word in the English language was used more than any other in 2009?
Hint: It begins with “T” and ends with “R.”
Figured it out?
Yep: Twitter wins this year’s word popularity contest.
So says The Global Language Monitor, which recently declared that Twitter rose to the top of the most-favored word heap, where also-rans include Obama, stimulus, 2.0, deficit, healthcare, transparency and foreclosure.
Making the most of strict limitation
In an announcement about this finding, GLS President Paul Payack is quoted as saying:
“In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words. Twitter represents a new form of social interaction, where all communication is reduced to 140 characters. Being limited to strict formats did wonders for the sonnet and haiku. One wonders where this highly impractical word-limit will lead as the future unfolds.”
Less is more
There are times when I might like to have more characters per tweet (and in fact there are services that enable you to send longer messages via Twitter). However, there is something to be said for the ingenuity required to craft a compelling message constrained to 140 characters. It can be challenging to construct such a brief missive that grabs attention. You have to be sharp. Concise. Precise.
There’s an art to writing an effective tweet. And there are even books to help you acquire this special skill; such as 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla. The self-described Elements of Style for social media messaging, claims to be the “first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with the succinctness and clarity that the Internet age demands.”
Back when I went to school, it was imperative to learn how to write essays. Nowadays, it’s critical to understand how to pick and choose a few well-chosen words for effective articulate communication.
If not a sonnet or haiku a Tweet may perchance be considered Shakespearean. After all, the great Bard of Avon wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.”
FYI, in Shakespeare’s day, wit primarily referred to intelligence — as in getting by on one’s wits.
So here’s to Twitter, 2009’s Word Of The Year and a new barometer for the essence of acumen.
- Deni Kasrel
What are your thoughts on Twitter being named 2009 Word Of The Year? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on November 11, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: antisocial behavior, behavior, communication, communications, disconnection, diversity, Facebook, human interaction, Internet, isolation, MySpace, networks, online communication, online communications, Pew Internet and American Life Project, relationships, social influence, Social isolation and New Technology, Social Media, social media issues, social networking, Social Networks, social statistics, social trends, technology and social interaction, Twittter |
Recently, while at a networking event, talk turned to whether social media and other means of online messaging actually makes us antisocial. That is, if we are so busy Tweeting, Facebooking, text messaging, and otherwise communicating through technology, are we then less eager to converse in person?
Does our ability to instantly send photos and videos to friends mean we are less likely to visit them in real life? Are Facebook family reunions in our future?
New technology, same old debate
The notion that technology leads to antisocial behavior is hardly new. It heated up when the internet and email caught fire. The same speculation happened when the telephone picked up in popularity — we didn’t have to visit our neighbors, or anyone else for that matter, to talk to them anymore; we could just give ‘em a ring.
The rise of social media — where a network aspect encourages a sense of community– intensifies the debate. We can feel as though we are all together even though we are all apart. We enjoy exchanges with friends and followers whom we never meet in person. Ever.
Does technology lead to social isolation?
Does our propensity to connect through technology imply we are more isolated as individuals?
“Today, the number of Americans who are truly isolated is no different, or at most is only slightly higher than what it was 30 years ago. Few people have no one with whom they can discuss important matters, and even fewer have no one who is especially significant in their lives. The more pronounced social change, since 1985, has occurred in the size and diversity of Americans’ core networks.”
Social media and diversity
Following up on that last sentence is where it really gets interesting. The study concludes that overall, the number and diversity of people with whom we discuss and confide important matters is declining. However, the opposite is true of those who socialize through technology. The study found:
- People who upload and share photos online are 61% more likely to have discussion partners that cross political lines.
- Frequent at-home internet users are 53% more likely to have a confidant of a different race.
- The diversity of core networks tends to be 25% larger for mobile phone users and 15% larger for internet users.
Online we are more color-blind than in real-life. Perhaps having distance between one another makes us more tolerant of our differences.
Correlation between online communication and in-person interaction
As for the notion that communicating through technology leads to lower face-to-face social contact, the study indicates it ain’t necessarily so. Findings include:
- Internet and mobile phone users are as likely as non-users to talk to their neighbors in-person at least once per month.
- Internet users are 26% less likely to rely on their neighbors for help with small services, such as household chores, repairs, and lending tools, but they remain as likely to help their neighbors with the same activities.
- Owners of a mobile phone, frequent internet users at work, and bloggers are more likely to belong to a local voluntary group, such as a neighborhood association, sports league, youth group, church, or social club.
Online community forums make us even more neighborly:
- 60% of those who use an online neighborhood discussion forum know “all or most” of their neighbors, compared to 40% of Americans.
- 79% who use an online neighborhood discussion forum talk with neighbors in person at least once a month, compared to 61% of the general population.
- 43% of those on a neighborhood discussion forum talk to neighbors on the telephone at least once a month, compared to the average of 25%.
It really is social media
Technology is not a bogeyman turning us into isolated shut-ins. On the contrary, communication via the internet, cell phones and social media encourages in-person interaction. And it may make us more tolerant of our individual differences.
In other words, it really does make us more social.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of the Pew report on Social Isolation and New Technology? Do the findings surprise or confirm your own opinion on the topic? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Social Media | Tags: business, communication, free, Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit 2009, HARO, Help A Reporter Out, innovation, Innovation Philadelphia, marketing, Peter Shankman, Poken, PR, PR stunt, presentation technique, public relations, relevant, selling through social media, Social Media, Social Networks, Strategic Communications, transparency, trust agent |
If you’re giving a presentation and want the audience to hang on your every word here’s a tip: Announce you’ll give away free stuff to people who answer questions correctly during your talk.
Trust me, it works like a charm.
Reel ‘em in
He gave a breakfast talk, and though the caffeine had barely kicked in, Shankman held the crowd in rapt attention, because from time to time he’d ask a question and then toss out a small box to whomever gave the correct response.
No one knew what the heck the freebie was, but no matter. Shankman deemed it a “cool new toy” — ‘nuff said.
The Poken: It’s huge in Europe
At the conclusion Shankman revealed the cool toy was a Poken — which like David Hasselhoff, is huge in Europe. This small USB-enabled device lets you transfer your contact information, including social network info, to someone else’s Poken, and vice versa. It’s an electronic social business card that plugs into your computer to download the information collected.
Shankman predicted the Poken would soon be a big deal in the States, too. Time will tell on that score, but the point is, the chance to win a nifty mystery thingamabob kept all ears riveted on the speaker.
This is not to suggest that he’d have otherwise lost the audience; Shankman is an entertaining guy and worth hearing in any event. I’m just saying the freebie factor made the desire to listen all the more intense. Also, by asking questions there was audience interaction — another good way to reel folks in.
How to succeed in business (using social media)
As for the content of his address, “Social Media, It’s Simply Trust,” Shankman declared that to succeed in selling through social media you must not only build a better mousetrap, but build one that’s hard to copy. Because things get passed around fast and imitators abound.
He then revealed the four rules he employed to build HARO into a successful service (it has in excess of 100,000 members).
A fundamental rule of social media is to be who you say you are — don’t be a poser.
Shankman says don’t lie about anything. If you mess up, admit it, accept the blame and make it right.
The web makes it easy for people to dig around and uncover buried information, hence he advises:
“The biggest mistake is not making a mistake. It’s attempting to cover it up and think you won’t get caught.”
Beyond saying or passing on something of value you need to know how your audience wants to get information. Web site, mobile device, video, podcast, blog, press release, email — however your audience wants to receive information, you need to serve it up.
If you don’t know what they want, ask. Shankman observes:
“If you’re not reaching your audience the way they want, they’ll go somewhere else. And not only that, they have the ability to bitch about it to all their friends, which they will do.”
Along with being the soul of wit, brevity is essential in a society where simple text messages, microblogging and short attention spans rule. Keep it concise and relevant and be sure there are no spelling and/or grammatical errors.
Stay top of mind
Keep in touch with the people in your network just to say, “Hey, what’s up?” Or, do something like Shankman does, which is to send out birthday wishes to everyone in his Facebook network.
The emphasis here is to have an interest in the person you’re contacting (it’s not about you). Shankman’s wise words:
“Studies show we talk to roughly three percent of our network on a regular basis. All you have to do to be great is be a half a percent better than everyone else.”
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of Shankman’s ploy to keep everyone interested? What about his four rules for business success through social media? Comments welcome.
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