Based on the number of times she repeats the phrase in her new book Content Strategy for Mobile, it’s clear that Karen McGrane wants you to remember the
following: “If people want to do something on the internet, they will want to do it using their mobile device.” While that might sound obvious, the implications of this statement take up a significant portion of McGrane’s 165-page book. That’s because until recently, mobile meant on the move. In this context, it was thought that users required only short bits of quick hit content. A restaurant’s phone number. The operating hours of a store.
No one believed that people would ever want to read considerable amounts of text on a smartphone, which is how separate mobile sites with truncated content (also known as forking) came to be. But forking is a very bad idea according to McGrane, as it requires separate content updates across multiple sites. It’s also impossible to track the type of content users want from your mobile site unless you provide them with access to all of it in the first place.
Thankfully there is a solution — adaptive content. The key elements of adaptive content include:
The first three aspects might sound familiar, but creating content that is structured to be independent of visual presentation often represents a significant shift in workflow and approach. As McGrane explains, the WYSWIG editor creates content that can only be viewed properly on a desktop computer. Instead of chunking content into various elements such as headline, subhead, short summary, long summary, image, caption, etc., WYSWIG tends to generate a blob of content. If nailing jelly to the wall is difficult, try separating a jar of jelly into discrete sections.
Metadata (information about information) is a big part of creating presentation-independent content. (A good example of metadata is “Granny Smith is a type of apple.”) McGrane quotes Jason Scott, an archivist who once quipped that “metadata is a love note to the future.” Good content accrues value over time, but only if it can be retrieved and rearranged into user-appropriate formats.
McGrane’s plea to eliminate the blob is underscored by Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s new book Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content. The overlap between the two books is significant: both discuss the publishing API created by NPR and Wachter-Boettcher includes a two page Q&A with McGrane.
Wachter-Boettcher provides an even more comprehensive look at structured content, including a fascinating (really!) look at content modeling, using the Epicurious website and app as an example. In short, good content not only provides meaning to users, but determines the priority of different content elements on a given page and the relationships between them.
Wachter-Boettcher offers a clear explanation of semantic markup and reinforces the importance of change management in implementing any type of content strategy. She also uses the nifty word “interdigitating” to explain how to best combine different content modules on a small screen in order to “keep the narrative, persuasive, or informational structure of the content intact.”
After reading either of these books, many companies will be frustrated to discover that leveraging their existing content might not be as easy as they had hoped. Some of the solutions offered, such as creating a private API for content, are impractical from both a cost and business perspective. But the basic principles of adaptive content are easy to implement (better metadata, better structuring), provided you can find someone to tame the unfriendly nature of most Content Management Systems. If you love your content, making it adaptive will be the beginning of a long, beautiful relationship.
So let’s consider what’s relevant, both today and down the road:
A few smart brands have already realized this and have taken innovative approaches:
By surrounding a brand in an emotionally rich universe of specialty content, it becomes much easier to connect – and stay connected – with fans. If your brand doesn’t have it’s own universe, it might be a good idea to create one now!
A typical Google search can easily yield a few hundred million search results. Unfortunately, quantity doesn’t necessarily imply quality, so there’s no guarantee that the ‘good’ stuff will be on the first, second or even the ninth page of results.
With the help of a web tool or two, however, it is possible to uncover those golden nuggets of useful information amidst all the noise. One of our current favourites is MentorMob, which allows users to create playlists on a certain topic. The site functions on a simple premise – everyone has his or her own skills and interests, so why not crowdsource that knowledge to develop a great content database that everyone can benefit from. It’s community curation at its finest and it’s succeeding at uncovering the best content the Internet has to offer. After all, it’s great when you find a fantastic webpage or video… but it’s even better when it doesn’t take you an entire day to do so.
Good content has the ability to offer something unique and valuable for your audience. Frequently heard around any digitally-focused organization includes a discussion about content strategy, developing fresh content and leveraging it for video or social distribution.
Since the Google Panda update a year ago, fresh and relevant content is more important than ever. Blogs, videos and images are seen as opportunities to develop this type of content further on a more frequent basis, and have it show up though Universal Search with different file formats. However, what we really need to ask is: Will anyone care? Is it adding something of value (inform, educate, entertain or inspire)?
At the SMX West conference in San Jose this past week, a common theme emerged: the importance of understanding your consumers. Not just who you want you your consumers to be, but who your consumers are now. Through website analytics, advertising analytics and keyword research/competitive tools, keyword insights provide a foundation for developing a successful content strategy. This is not to be abused with keyword stuffing, but to help with the ability to fuel several things:
With Google receiving over 1 billion keyword searches per day and 20 percent being unique searches, consumers are using the platform throughout the entire buying process from searching for information to making a purchase decision and fulfillment. Understanding what consumers are searching for throughout the process, what can be created to uniquely make their search more relevant, and ensuring your brand is showing up is essential in a successful content strategy.
Source: Buddy Media
Quick question – what’s the difference between advertising and content marketing?
According to Wikipedia:
At all of the events I attended during Social Media Week, there seemed to be a growing divide between those on team advertising and those on team content. It’s an important discussion, and one that should be had by any organization that wants to remain relevant to today’s Internet users. The ‘average’ web user in 2012 is technologically savvy, resourceful and unwilling to like or follow something for the sake of winning a contest. Their loyalty is conditional – they want to be engaged and included in discussions about the things that matter to them.
From the advertiser’s perspective, this new breed of Internet users calls for an emphasis on social design. Social experiences will be put first and foremost in campaigns, with complete digital integration being a must. After all, in order to succeed, marketers need to be where their target consumer is, and that person is online.
For content creators, instead, this is a call for more authenticity. Quality content is the stuff that talks with consumers and not just at them; it’s the stuff that doesn’t have to go viral to be considered successful because it will continue to resonate with its audience more than any cat video ever will. For companies serious about putting fans first, the focus should be on generating interest-centred content that will spur user engagement and build credibility (à la Red Bull – they recently made Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list) as opposed to advertiser’s brand-centred content.