Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’
Data visualization is becoming the new frontier in content, writing, and communication. In this post, I want to share with you a remarkable type of map.
There are your standard, average sorts of maps, and then there are your WOW! amazing, captivating maps.
In The World in Tweets and Photos and Infographic of the Day: Using Twitter and Flickr Geotags to Map the World, Eric Fischer has created a marvelous series of geographic maps of the WOW! kind showing overlays of geotagged photos posted to Flickr and tweets to Twitter.
This fascinating project visualizes the intersection of geography and vast quantities of user-generated data.
When you look at Fischer’s images, you will see clusters of multi-colored dots that represent where people are when they send photos and tweets. Red dots correspond to Flickr photos; blue dots signify tweets; and white dots indicate locations from which both have been sent.
From New York and Washington to the entire United States to Europe to the entire world, you can see images that instantly communicate how many people are using those two social media, and where they are when using them.
In an earlier post, Information Visualization: How Can It Improve Your Publications?, I wrote about the value of using visualization to extract meaningful information from a sea of data, and gave you some guidelines for successfully doing just that.
I think Eric Fischer’s maps beautifully illustrate the best reason for visualizing large and complex data sets: visualization is a technique that allows us to explore visually and perhaps arrive at some understanding of patterns and groupings that might otherwise remain invisible.
That type of large-scale analysis gives writers and other communications professionals a powerful tool to connect with their audiences and convey a story in moving and unforgettable ways.
Enjoy Fischer’s glorious maps. I hope they inspire you to come up with even better visualizations for your own publications and documents.
Now it’s your turn: What do you think of Fischer’s maps? Do you use information visualization in your own work? What software tools do you use to take large sets of data and convert them to visual form? Please share your tips, techniques and experiences – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
Ah, weasel words.
People often use weasel-speak in business to create the impression that they have said something important, meaningful and to the point when, in fact, their claims are ambiguous, their assertions little more than assumptions, and their statements vague and misleading.
When you hear weasel-speak, don’t you just want to raise your eyebrows in alarm and mutter What sesquipedalian tergiversation!
Here are a few common weasel phrases as examples:
Studies show …
The vast majority …
People say …
Critics claim …
There is evidence that …
Experience shows …
If you use such phrases, you can avoid weaseldom in one of two ways:
- Substitute the exact figures, names or details in place of the weasel phrase in the body of the text.
- Use footnotes or appendices in which you give exact figures, details, names, places, and so on.
Notice that the key idea in both suggestions is the same: Prefer language that is concrete, factual, specific and detailed. Substantiate all claims. Provide supporting evidence for all assertions. Avoid the clutter of bureaucratic phrases. Simpler language almost always communicates better.
You can also use what is known as the “general-concrete” pattern. In this method of writing, general and abstract statements are followed by a concrete case. Use specific examples, illustrations and detailed explanations to get your exact point across to your readers. Don’t just present concepts and sweeping generalities. Clarify each one with a concrete case, specific figures, or detailed examples to convey what you mean and help prevent weasel-speak from creeping into your writing.
Now let’s take the example weasel phrases above and remove the smoke screens. The following examples banish the empty weasel words and restore substance and specificity:
Two studies, the 2003 Hirt Report on Nicotine Use and the 2007 CDC Mortality Rates Report, show …
89 percent of respondents said …
People we interviewed agreed that …. Here is a list of their names and departments …
The movie critics of the following newspapers claim … (provide the names of the papers and critics)
The 26 supporting studies we cite in the appendix offer evidence that …
Based on the self-reported experience of the following 10 people … (give their names, describe each person’s experience in detail, and how each person’s experience supports your point)
Oh, it’s so easy, isn’t it? A little weasel here, another slithery weasel there, and before you know it, clear, substantive speech can find itself on the slippery slope to puffery, devoid of all real content.
To help you maintain sense and meaning in your writing, here is a list of handy resources I think you will enjoy:
- CSU – Jargon, Weasel Words and Gobbledygook
- WSU – The Power of Words
- Changing Minds – Weasel Words
- Weasel Words
- Edgalaxy – Weasel Words
- Say Uncle – How Business People Air Their Grievances
- Tony Goodson – Weasel Words
- 37 Signals – Corporate Speak
- Flickr – Weasel-Speak Ad
Now it’s your turn: What weasel phrases do you dislike the most? How do you avoid using weasel words? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
Headline, title, lead, opener – however you refer to it, the headline is the first impression your audience gets.
Whether read in a print piece or heard on radio or TV, the headline can spell the difference between success or failure: Is that first impression exciting and attention-grabbing? Does the headline offer useful information or news or promise readers they will gain something? Does the headline motivate the reader to keep reading, or make the listener continue to pay attention to what follows?
Whatever type of piece you are writing, the headline has to deliver, if it’s going to beat the competition and win people’s attention.
The secret that powers every successful headline is simple. The winners answer the most important question people ask themselves every time they read or hear a headline: What’s in it for me?
If a headline makes you interested in knowing more, it’s done its job, which is to:
- Grab your attention.
- Appeal to your self-interest.
- Deliver the main message.
- Persuade you to continue reading or listening.
Here are four sure-fire tips for writing headlines that get the job done.
This type of headline directly states what will follow. It clearly summarizes the message in the piece without using wordplay, hidden meanings, cleverness, or oblique references.
Select an important benefit that appeals to your readers’ self-interest, and then craft a statement that is bold, direct and perhaps even a little dramatic. For example:
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Keep it short. Keep it simple. The “direct” headline gets right to the point.
“How To” Headline
This one has been called “pure magic” in its ability to draw attention and compel people to continue reading or listening.
The “how to” headline dangles an irresistible promise before the reader: Listen to me. Pay attention to me. I can help you solve a problem. I can answer your question. I can help you learn something you want to know. For example:
How to Easily Save $300 a Month
How to Get More Sleep
How to Communicate Well
The “how to” says you are not alone. It relieves stress. It brings hope. This headline assures readers that others share their concern or have the same problem and, best of all, promises: You can fix it, solve it, learn it, overcome it—and here’s how.
When you use the “question” headline, remember to focus on your audience. It’s all about their self-interest, so address your question to them. What fires up their curiosity? What fears or needs can your headline appeal to? For example:
What Won’t the Neighbors Tell You?
Which Foods Can Keep You Looking Young?
Is Your Air-Conditioner Costing You More Than It Should?
The “reason-why” headline is useful when you want to list the features of your product or service. It is also a good hook for pieces that offer advice or something to learn. For example:
Three Reasons Why You Should Get a College Degree
Six Ways of Chic Dressing on a Tight Budget
Five Steps to Looking Better and Living Longer
These headline types are tested and proven—just look around and see what draws your attention. Ask your family, friends and colleagues. Ask businesspeople. Ask other writers. Do some research on what makes a headline effective.
Your challenge, as a writer, is to create headlines and titles that compel people to focus their attention on what you have to say and stay glued to every word.
Now it’s your turn: What sorts of headlines appeal to you? Writers, which headlines have worked well for you? Do you have any analytical insights into headline effectiveness? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Writer Ideas
Just a few years ago, who would have thought the subject of book publishing and marketing could have become as contentious and sometimes rancorous as it has these days?
Authors, agents, publishers and readers tussle over which is preferable: digital or traditional (print) publishing … and lately it seems that the trend is swinging toward a blend of both. But hold on to your hat! The blend itself is probably just another transition phase …
And do you even want to wade into the fray about book marketing?
Authors think it’s the publishers’ job. Agents and publishers insist that, for the most part and for most authors, it’s primarily the authors’ responsibility. And the audience … wait, do they even know you just published a book and are frantically trying to get their attention?
Yes, how exactly are you going to market your book to your target audience?
A New Marketing Model?
How does the following approach to marketing your book grab you? Let’s say you could reach out and connect with your audience in these ways:
Market your backlist books online.
Create frontlist fiction and non-fiction books digitally, and publish them as ebooks as well as online to various devices and as POD (print-on-demand) in selected retail outlets.
Team up with independent, traditional publishers to bring your ebooks to a larger audience through enhanced marketing, publicity and editorial strategies; these strategies would be implemented online via social media, blog postings, videos, photos, written pieces and interactive promotions.
Partner with agents and publishers who could do far more than just sell film and TV rights. Imagine partnering with someone who could actually develop selected ebooks for all screens (film, TV, web, mobile).
Collaborate with publishers who would build up your list of ebooks as well as other curated, complementary pieces, and then package and syndicate your digital publications as appropriate to other outlets, for example, social networks, blogs and mainstream media portals.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Here are two ways of thinking about digital marketing—before the sale (top) and after the sale (bottom).
If you want to learn more about how one publishing company is going about creating this type of new, digital multi-platform marketing model, take a peek at the website of Open Road Integrated Media (ORIM).
One purpose of this type of digital marketing model is to forge strong connections between authors and their audiences in ways that haven’t been possible before now.
Even though authors may not always meet and greet their fans in person, authors must still reach out and connect their ideas to … well … to other people and their ideas. In essence, you have to create mind links.
Is that sort of connection necessarily any less real if it’s done digitally instead of in person?
Could we be catching a glimpse of where book publishing must go if it is to survive as an industry?
Should traditional publishers consider retooling their operations around a similar model?
If you are one of the 80,000 independent publishers, would you consider partnering with a digital marketing company?
In fact, will traditional publishers even survive if their business model does not emphasize heavy-duty marketing, especially digital multi-platform marketing?
Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Is this model the book-marketing wave that authors, agents and publishers alike have to catch to survive and thrive? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
It’s no secret that Google recently changed its search formulas.
Google’s intent was to decrease the occurrence of “content farms” in search results, because the farms were clogging the search rankings. Content farms tend to be heavy on ads, post information without much regard for quality, and often use text copied from other sources.
So good for Google! Time to stop rewarding the content farms.
Alas, however, Google’s modifications to its search algorithms also spawned some unintended (and negative) consequences for legitimate companies.
If you own or work at a small business with a web presence, then one or more of the accidental side effects may be giving you a real headache.
Recent articles on CNN Money and in the Wall Street Journal noted that, as a result of Google’s changes, many small businesses have seen dramatic declines in their web traffic and web-generated sales – think drops in sales of as much as 40 percent.
Wouldn’t that make you sit up and take notice? Thought so. As you might imagine, then, those businesses are now taking action.
Which brings us to the “silver lining in the cloud” part.
If you are a freelance writer, pay close attention here, because one tactic favored by those companies is to hire more freelance writers to customize copy.
You see, many of the affected companies sell lots and lots of different products. Formerly, they relied on the manufacturers’ product descriptions, meaning they basically just copied the text. The manufacturers certainly didn’t mind (it’s partly why they created the copy, after all), but that approach seems to have caused their sites to lose their place in Google’s rankings.
So rejoice, freelance writers. As Carol Tice says in her excellent post about this subject: “Google’s change is opening up a world of freelance writing opportunities.”
In addition to writing original product descriptions, companies also need copy for email marketing campaigns, customer Q&A, social media, direct customer communication and much more that will help each company distinguish itself from its competition.
Companies, although you’re going to suffer some short-term pain, in my opinion you have been handed a golden opportunity to make your businesses even more profitable and productive. You and your customers will eventually benefit enormously from what good freelance writers can bring to the table.
Remember, good communication is the heartbeat of a great business. (And better Google rankings.)
Bonus just for you: If you’d like to read more about substantive content and SEO, and why you should care, check out these recent posts:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What Really Works?
- How Does Writing Generate Knowledge Value?
- Writers Solve Problems
- Good Documents Are Smart Business
- 5 Keys to Writing Winning Marketing Copy
- Business Blogs: 9 Tips for Great Results
Now it’s your turn: How do you present your products and services in an original, creative way? What keeps your customers coming back to your website and actually buying stuff? Writers, what do you think about the opportunities presented by Google’s changes? Please share your thoughts and keep the conversation going in the comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write ideas
Radio interviews are a dynamite way to get massive exposure that can reach way beyond a local market. So think BIG—think global. Why confine your marketing to one or more local markets when you could be heard all over the world?
There are thousands of internet radio shows on over 10,000 internet radio stations. Some of these are “terrestrial” stations that also offer streaming or podcasts over the internet; others are entirely creatures of the internet.
And these stations all have one thing in common: their talk shows always need new content. Every day, each show has to feed the engine that draws listeners and powers the world of news and information.
Finding Internet Radio Shows
How do you find the shows you would like to be on? Here are two tips:
Audience. Define the target audience for your product, service, or message. You might segment your audience by demographics – age, gender, education, socioeconomics, and so on. Or perhaps it makes more sense for you to classify your audience by interests or lifestyle. Remember that a product intended for one group may also appeal to another, if only as an item to give as a gift. The takeaway here is to analyze your audience very carefully so you don’t overlook a healthy market.
Research. Use the following links to check out the types of talk shows that appeal to your audience. If your topic is kitchen tools and gadgets, for example, you wouldn’t be looking for an interview on a radio show about fashion accessories or gardening. Use specific keywords in your search for shows.
Contacting an Internet Radio Show
When you find a show you are interested in, the station or show website will display a Contact tab or menu option. Make a note of the show’s producer or host, including the email address and any other contact information. In most cases, email will be the best way of contacting someone and will also help you keep your lists organized and under control.
When you send an email letter, introduce yourself and let the producer or host know why you are contacting them. Tell them a little about yourself, why you would like to be a guest on their show, and how talking with you will benefit their radio listeners.
Be sure to keep your email lists updated and organized as you continue trying to book yourself on radio shows. You may have to follow up if your initial contact attempt gets no response (and expect that in a few cases you may never get a response to your query).
Continue searching for more contacts, and be persistent in trying to book yourself on shows. Eventually you should get some interviews.
So … What Are You Going to Say?
Congratulations! You’ve finally snagged an internet radio interview and now you’re preparing for your guest spot. What are you going to say?
Don’t even think of “winging it.”
Map your outline in such a way that your interview will have a storyline – a beginning, a middle, and an end. What are your key points? What is your overall purpose?
Break your storyline down into topics (speaking points), and create a question to introduce each topic.
Develop each topic by writing out the answer to its question. As you write, your objective is to get your message across by appealing to your audience’s needs and interests.
Remember to time each topic, according to the timelines your contact gave you, so you will be a good guest and not force the host to cut you off mid-sentence when show time is up.
Read everything you have written out loud. If some part of your script sounds odd or just doesn’t seem conversational enough, rewrite it. Edit and rewrite your material until it sounds right, says what you intend to say for your audience, and stays within the timelines you’ve been given.
Email a copy of your question-and-answer storyline to your interviewer well ahead of your interview date.
Now you’re on your way … soon to be a guest on an internet radio talk show. And guess what? You can use the same interview script, or a lightly tweaked version of it, for other guest appearances on shows that play to the same audience. Nice job.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever been a guest on an internet radio talk show? What was your experience? Share your thoughts and opinions in a comment – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
Face it, your customers don’t want to communicate with your company, they want to talk to you. They want to get personal. Up close. And comfortable. So, how to entice them to pull up a chair, stay a while and get to know you better?
One way of inviting your customers to stay in touch on a regular basis is to assemble a band of employee bloggers to write about their areas of expertise and how what they do relates to and benefits the company’s customers.
For instance, imagine creating a corporate site that showcases multiple employee blogs, all housed under one landing page. In your mind’s eye, can’t you just see your company’s colorful landing page filled with clickable summaries of each blog, a search window, a blog directory and other features that make surfing, searching and reading your company’s blogs easy and interesting? Hey—you could even spice up the mix by adding a few video and multimedia “blogs” as well.
Take a good look around your company. You have departments that specialize in all sorts of business functions, for example: product design and development, data feeds, legal, regulatory, documentation, investor relations, logistics, accounting, shipping, communications, IT, HR, training, and current projects of all sorts—the list of possibilities is as large and varied as the number of companies.
Pull your band of bloggers together, along with an editor and a blogger-in-chief. Give each blogger on the team a byline, and include a headshot and brief biography.
Launch your blog site, and let your customers get to know the people who make your company work.
For more information on biz blogs, you might enjoy these two recent posts: Business Blogs: 9 Tips for Great Results and Business Blogs: Top Reasons Why Your Company Needs One
Now let’s talk: Does your company use a band of employee bloggers to interact with customers online? Do you have any advice for those who might be considering such an approach to business blogs? Tell all right here in your comments! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas