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A few months ago I went to collect a friend from hospital. Arriving early, I entered the waiting room and noticed in-house magazines stacked by the door. I picked one up, grabbed a coffee and took a seat.

The magazine read like a very long press release, blabbering on about patient-centric care and employee awards. I was quickly bored, so I read from my phone instead. The magazine failed in its purpose.

Effective content marketing holds people’s attention. It gives you a distinctive brand, loyal fans and increased sales. You don’t need a big budget to succeed, which is why good content marketing is the single best way to beat bigger competitors online.

Content marketing used to be about customer magazines and mailed newsletters. Now it covers blogs, email newsletters, eBooks, white papers, articles, videos and more. In this article, you will learn about content marketing techniques that you can apply to your business.

Prepare

Before creating content, you need to prepare. Think about your tone and style, where to find the best writers and how to organize your workflow.

Tone and Style

Too many companies start writing content before their brand has a defined voice. This leads to inconsistency. It’s like using one logo in your brochure, another on your website and another on your blog.

When speaking with people, you see their expressions and you adjust your tone accordingly. In a meeting, when you see that someone is confused, you clarify meaning, simplify sentences and speak reassuringly. The Web offers no feedback until your content is published, and then it’s too late.

To get the right tone, think of the person who best represents your brand. The person could be fictional or real, and they may or may not work for you. Now think of adjectives that describe them. Once you know what you want, provide clear details and practical examples.

Let’s say you run a travel agency that markets to young independent travelers. You want your representative to sound experienced, helpful and friendly. Try using a table like the one below to delineate what your adjectives do and don’t mean:

Experienced
Helpful
Friendly

Does mean…
Knowledgeable
Write with authority, as though the knowledge was gained first hand.
Efficient
Explain things clearly and positively. Make sure all relevant information is obvious and accessible.
Personal
Use informal language, and write as though you are talking to one person, rather than a broad customer base.

Does not mean…
Condescending
You know a lot but don’t talk down to your customers. They probably know a lot too.
Pushy
Promote your company, but not at the expense of good service. Always have your reader’s wants in mind.
Unprofessional
Make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes. Proofread carefully.

You’ll also need a style guide, so that your authors write consistently. Should you use title case in headings? Are contractions appropriate? Check out The Yahoo! Style Guide for ideas.

Picking Content Creators

Don’t pick the wrong people to create your content. It’s hard for a non-technical person to pick the best Web developer, and it’s the same with content marketing. You need to know about content creation in order to judge other people’s abilities. Some people suggest making everyone in your company a content creator, but this is a bad idea. Not everyone can be a good accountant, secretary or rocket scientist, and the same applies here. To succeed, you should pick the best.

Ask everyone who wants to be a content creator to write a sample blog post. Then you can find the best few people. Some might not be able to write but have interesting ideas. In this case, you’ll need someone to edit their copy. Perhaps you want to raise the profile of a particular staff member. If they can’t write, have someone ghostwrite for them.

Workflow

Some companies have a simple workflow: one person does everything. The person researches, writes and publishes without any input from others. This model can work, but you’ll see more success with a workflow that enables other people to take part. Have different people write, edit and proofread. It’s a good way to catch mistakes and to bring more ideas into the process. Think about the best process for each type of content. One person might be enough for a tweet, whereas four to six people might be ideal for an eBook.

Imagine you’ve got a well-staffed company that is putting together a B2B white paper. You could organize your workflow like this:


An example of how to organize your workflow in a well-staffed company.

Persuade

Your content should be persuasive. Pay close attention to how you speak and what you say.

Use Simple Language

Take the question below on Yahoo! Answers. To “sound intelligent,” this person would like to know “big words that replace everyday small words.”

Big words that replace everyday small words?

Many people make this mistake. They use language that is unnecessarily complicated, usually to show off or to sound corporate and professional.

“Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all,” said Winston Churchill. So, don’t talk about “taking a holistic view of a company’s marketing strategy to deliver strategic insights, precise analysis and out-of-the-box thinking.”

Prefer “make” to “manufacture,” and “use” to “utilize.” While “quantitative easing” offers precision to economists, your personal finance audience would prefer “print money.”

Lauren Keating has studied the effect of scientific language on the persuasiveness of copy. She found that most people respond best to advertisements that contain no scientific language. People found them more readable and persuasive, and they felt more willing to buy the product. Lauren’s conclusion was clear: copy needs to be plain and simple.

Have Opinions

Interesting people have opinions, and interesting brands are the same. Look at the amazing work of new search engine DuckDuckGo. It has positioned itself as the antithesis of Google, launching websites that criticize how the search giant tracks you and puts you in a bubble. The strategy is paying off: DuckDuckGo is seeing explosive growth.

Duck Duck Go
DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that breaks you out of your Filter Bubble.

While this strategy is perfect for defeating a big incumbent, you don’t have to be openly hostile to your competitors. You can say what you think without mentioning their names.

Bear in mind that people are ideologically motivated. Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler’s study, “When Corrections Fail”, describes the “backfire effect” of trying to correct people’s deeply held beliefs. The authors found that contradicting people’s misconceptions actually strengthened those opinions. If people see you as an ideological ally (like a political party), they are more likely to agree with you on other issues — even ideologically inconsistent or non-ideological ones. You can use your opinions to attract people to your company: converting the agnostic or validating the views of allies.

As a small-scale brewer, for example, you might have a strong opinion on ale, believing in craft over mass production. You might think the market is dominated by big businesses that sacrifice quality for quantity. In this situation, you could use content marketing to talk about the best way to make beer. By stressing how seriously you take the development of your product, you communicate your opinion to those who share it without directly criticizing your competitors.

Think politically: consider the popularity of your views and whether they will attract media coverage. Ideally, your opinions should be bold and popular.

Sell the Benefits

In the same way that you sell your products and services, tell your audience the benefits of your content. This technique is essential if your audience doesn’t know what it wants.

PaperlessPipeline is a transaction management and document storage app for real estate brokers. Its founder, Dane Maxwell, had a creative idea to sell his product. The biggest problem for real estate brokers is recruiting. So, Dane invited them to a webinar titled “Recruiting Secrets of the 200-Plus Agent Office in Tennessee.” Brokers didn’t even know they needed to manage transactions, so he didn’t mention it in the invitation.


Paperless Pipeline takes your real estate transactions and related documents online—without changing how you work.

In the webinar, he introduced PaperlessPipeline and explained how it enables brokers to recruit more agents. The webinar attracted 120 guests, and “16 ended up buying at the end,” said Dane in an interview with Mixergy.

Imagine you run a company that develops technology for mobile phones, and you want to promote a new femtocell that boosts mobile reception in public spaces and rural areas. This technology could be valuable to people who want to improve mobile reception, but those people might not have heard of it.

So, instead of promoting the technology directly, offer content that focuses on the benefits. By using benefit-focused copy, you immediately tell the reader what’s in it for them.

Teach

Think about what your audience wants. People want to hear answers and to learn something new, so give them what they want.

Give Answers

Content marketing needs to offer practical advice that people can use. Readers have been trained to expect answers on the Web, and yet so much content fails to deliver.

Consider FeeFighters, a comparison website for credit card processing. One of its blog posts, Do You Know What Makes Up Your Credit Score?, talks about the factors that affect your credit score. Instead of offering abstract advice and concepts, the post provides practical tips for improving your credit score:

Area #2: Your Credit Utilization Ratio

The second largest determining factor in what makes up your score is the amount of credit that you have available to you in relationship to how much of that credit you’ve used. This accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. The optimal rate is 30 percent, which means that if you have $10,000 in credit available to you, you should only be using about $3,000 of it. One trap that some people fall into is believing that if they max out their credit cards every month and then pay them off at the end of the month, they’ll build their credit. But since that gives them a 100 percent credit utilization ratio, and that ratio accounts for 30 percent of their overall credit score, they’re really doing more harm than good.

Say or Do Something New

Most content is boring and unoriginal, which is good for you. It makes it easier to beat your competitors.

You can make your content interesting by doing something new, without necessarily saying something new. For instance, you could write a comprehensive article on a topic that has only piecemeal information scattered across the Web. Or you could use a different format for a topic that gets the same treatment; rather than writing the fiftieth blog post on a topic, shoot the first video.

You can also make your content interesting by saying something new. An infographic by Rate Rush compares the popularity of Digg to Reddit, creatively combining a bar graph and clock to present the data. Although Rate Rush is a personal finance website, with little connection to social news, its staff researched a topic they were interested in and drew attention by putting it to imaginative use.

Our agency also researches things that we find interesting, and this has been a great source of content. In 2010, we polled around 1000 iPad owners to find out how consumers use the device. It led to a slew of media attention.

You can do the same. Come up with an original idea to research, and then undertake a study. Also look into studies that your business has done in the past, because interesting stuff might be lying around. One of our clients looked through her company’s research archive and found amazing material. She didn’t spend any money on research but got a lot of great content, links and media coverage.

Captivate

Give your content more personality. Captivate your audience with stories and characters that will draw them in and keep them coming back.

Tell a Story

Telling a story is a great way to connect with readers. According to a number of studies summed up by Rob Gill of Swinburne University of Technology, telling stories can be useful in corporate communication. Storytelling is fundamental to human interaction, and it can make your content more compelling and your brand more engaging.

Citing Annette Simmons’ The Story Factor, Rob says this: “It is believed people receiving the narration often come to the same conclusion as the narrator, but through using their own decision-making processes.” Told through a story, a message becomes more personal and relevant. The reader is also more likely to remember what was said.

Rand Fishkin is the co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz. Instead of sharing only positive accounts of his business, he also writes about difficulties such as his failed attempt to raise capital:

Michelle was the first to note that something was “odd.” In a phone call with Neil, she heard him comment that they “needed to do more digging into the market.” In her opinion, this was very peculiar.… Tuesday morning we got the call; no deal.


An email shared by Rand Fishkin in his post about SEOmoz’s attempt to raise funding.

Brands need stories, and stories need people, suspense, conflicts and crises. By reading SEOmoz’s content, and seeing both the positive and negative, you become immersed in its story.

Ikea is another example of a brand that tells stories that generate opinions about its company. For instance, it plays up its Swedish roots and paints a romantic image of a wholesome and natural society. Its website is full of stories that contribute to this effect.

A survey conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing Community showed that around 82% of LinkedIn users found that telling a story through case studies was the most effective form of content marketing.

Sometimes you’ll want to use anecdotes to make a point, and sometimes you’ll write a post or tweet to build a narrative. When you’re cultivating a story, keep the information simple, and don’t be afraid to repeat points here and there; some readers might have missed what you said before.

Always mix interesting stories with useful information; fail to do this and your audience will feel you’re wasting their time.

Use Real People

Think of your favorite writers. You’ve probably seen their photos and heard them speak. Likewise, people need to see and hear your employees, so use pictures, audio and video. This will bring your audience closer to your brand.

Jakob Nielsen has studied people’s reactions to images online. He used eye-tracking software to discover that people ignore images that seem decorative, random or generic. They even ignore generic images of people. But when they come across a photo of a “real” person, they engage with it for a longer time.

People prefer to get involved with a company with which they feel a personal connection. But introduce your employees gradually; as with any story, introduce too many characters too early and you’ll confuse your audience.

Summary

Develop a compelling tone of voice. Don’t assume that anyone can write amazing copy, because they can’t. If you want the best content, then you need the best writers and thinkers.

Produce something informative that people will want to read. Give your brand a personality and your business will benefit across the board, from recruitment to sales. Warren Buffett looks for businesses protected by “unbreachable moats,” and no moat is more unbreachable than a brand with a story, ideas and opinions.

(al) (il)

© Craig Anderson for Smashing Magazine, 2012.

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People have differing ideas on the subject of piracy, but most would never step over the line and support it. Someone who advocates piracy is labelled devil spawn, promptly whipped and then lemon juice squeezed into the sores. In short, it's the internet's most heathen of crimes. If you were to tune into the chatter in the indie game scene right now though, what you may hear is a radically different viewpoint. Pirate radio, if you will.

It's more than hot air, too; actions are being made in an attempt to tap into the benefits of piracy. You will more than likely know the two highest profile contributors to the argument: Edmund McMillen and Markus 'Notch' Persson, both of whom have stood against the grain for years now but more recently told followers on Twitter to pirate their games when they could not or would not pay the asking price for them.

Predictably, there has been a backlash to this carefree outlook on piracy, with a few heated debates erupting between developers. The question is whether there is actually any worth in encouraging piracy for a small profit-driven developer. Instinct tells us not, but there is evidence that suggests otherwise.

Read more…

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Giulio Di Sturco

War at the Edge of Heaven

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In August 2008, thousands of Muslims filled the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir, shouting “azadi” (freedom) and raising the green flag of Islam. That was the start of a new revolution In Kashmir.
The Indian government’s insistence that peace is spreading in Kashmir contradicts a report by Human Rights Watch in 2006 that described a steady pattern of arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial execution and torture by Indian security forces.

In 2005, a survey by Doctors Without Borders, who provide basic health care and psychosocial counseling to the population, traumatized by over 20 years of violence, found that Muslim women in Kashmir, prey to the Indian troops and paramilitaries, suffered some of the most widespread sexual violence in the world.

Over the last two decades, most ordinary Kashmiri Muslims have wavered between active rebellion. They fear the possibility of Israeli-style settlements by Hindus-reports of a government move to allocate 92 acres of Kashmiri land to a Hindu religious group are what sparked the younger generation into the public disobedience expressed of late.

Hindu nationalists have already formed an economic blockade of the Kashmir Valley. In 1989 and ’90, when few Kashmiris had heard of Osama bin Laden, hundreds of thousands of Muslims regularly petitioned the United Nations office in Srinagar, hoping to raise the world’s sympathy for their cause. Indian troops responded by firing into many of these largely peaceful demonstrations, killing hundreds of people and provoking many young Kashmiris to take to arms and embrace radical Islam.
A new generation of politicized Kashmiris has now risen, and the world is again likely to ignore them – until some of them turn into terrorists.

 

Bio

Giulio di Sturco is a 30-year-old Italian photographer currently dividing his time between Milan and New Delhi.

He studied photography at the European Institute of Design and Visual Arts in Rome, and has covered North-American and the South-East Asia issues for many magazines such as L’espresso magazine, Vanity fair, Io Donna, The Daily Telegraph magazine, Time magazine, Marie Claire, Geo magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Newsweek.

Since 2008 he start a closer collaboration with some of the most important international organization such as Greenpeace, MSF, Unitaid, United Nations, WHO and Action Aid.

In April 2009 Giulio Joined the VII Mentor Program.

 

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Chloe Borkett

East of Nowhere

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The frozen conflict zone and ex-Soviet enclave of Trans-Dniester, is a narrow slither of land located along the Eastern Moldovan border – a disputed sovereignty, which for 20 years has been de facto governed but also unrecognized by the UN. This came about in the Soviet Union’s dying days as alarm grew in the Dniester region over growing Moldovan nationalism and the possible reunification of Moldova with Romania. A 1989 law, which made Moldovan an official language added to the tension, and Trans-Dniester proclaimed its secession in September 1990.

So what does it mean to grow up in a country that doesn’t exist? So called independence, was seen by many as a triumph that should have secured a better future, but the PMR government has only made time stand still in this little known region, where its people are subjected to living a poverty stricken, isolated and somewhat entrapped existence. Preserving a deeply Soviet hyper-reality, Lenin continues to stand proud on every town square. Political allegiance to Russia is safely guarded seemingly at a cost to its people as the day-to-day reality of maintaining such cultural and political heritage becomes the complete opposite of preservation. Compared to the west we are spoiled by choice, so what western teenager could imagine living in a landscape absent of entertainment, modern facilities or endless consumer possibilities? Where parental presence is limited, and travel or escape is economically and politically restricted.

To date there has only been a modest response made of the territory. Carrying out an on-going exploration pieces together fragments of history and politics to create a contemporary portrait of the new generation to become a fresh contribution to an under-documented region. Interior spaces and landscapes echo psychological states and social concerns, whilst a non-linear narrative leaves individual stories open to interpretation.

Bio

Chloe Borkett was born in southeast London and has been based in a number of cities around the UK and overseas. After graduating from LCC, she embarked on a 5-year career in the music industry, specializing in online marketing. In early 2003, Chloe retrained as a teacher and moved to Thailand for a period of 3 years.

During her time in Thailand, Chloe had the opportunity to work on various charitable projects. It was here where Chloe began to take photography seriously, cementing her decision to return to the UK to study concerned photography where she is soon to graduate with a degree in documentary photography from the renowned course at Newport School of Art.

With the reoccurring theme of isolation present within all Chloe’s work, subject interests have centered on social issues concerning minority groups and the young, as well as the exploration of underground or alternative cultures.

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[RSS Readers: See post to listen to audio]
Modular is a great label but also an excellent source for mixes sometimes, this morning they shared 0neohtrix Point Never’s
sporadic yet highly enjoyable mix that made kick myself for not listening to Nobukazu Takemura anymore.

Tracklist:
1. Jean-Philippe Goude – Sicilienne
2. Kraftwerk – The Telephone Call
3. Big L – All Black
4. Limpe Fuchs – Wir Tanzen
5. John Abercrombie – Timeless
6. Nobukazu Takemura – Icefall
7. Eduard Artemiev – Hope
8. araabMUZIK – Lost in a Maze *edit

DOWNLOAD THE MIX HERE FOR FREE

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 shuddupayaface.

Are you listening, Blizzard? ARE YOU? Here are three minutes of why PC gamers deserve the option to alter their games, and why the world is a better place for it. Madness, beauty, comedy, juggling, land-swimming, flying horses and most of all modding await you in this completely, gloriously batshit Oblivion machinima.

Why am I posting it? Why didn’t I post it sooner, more like.
(more…)

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

William Daniels

Faded Tulips

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Since late 2007 I have traveled several times to Kyrgyzstan to work on an ongoing project entitled Faded Tulips, a long term social portrait of the former Soviet republic, two decades after its independence, undermined by poverty, corruption and chronic political instability: an explosive mixture.
The “Tulip Revolution” of 2005 brought hope and a promise of democracy to Kyrgyzstan. However, within a few years the situation had worsened, democracy was regressing and the economic situation dire. 40% of the population now live below the poverty line and some studies say nearly half of the population regret the passing of the communist era. Unsurprisingly, a bloody revolution in 2010 plunged the country into a new wave of violence. Two months later, in Osh, the southern capital, the ethnic confrontations between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks ended in an anti-Uzbek pogrom. Up to 2,000 people were killed and 400,000 displaced.

I reached Osh a few days following the clashes. I was deeply moved by the atrocity of the evidence I witnessed, and the scale of the drama. These sudden and violent tragic events cast further light on the ethnic tensions that exist in south Kyrgyzstan, which in turn led me to understand that my long term work on the republic should be completed by an investigation of these tensions, many of which resulted from the original borders of the USSR, drawn up by Lenin decades earlier.

I plan to visit Uzbek and Tadjik enclaves: Sokh, Chakhimardan, Voroukh, and would return to Osh where the situation remains tense. I will also spend some time in the eastern mountain villages, epicenter of Kyrgyz nationalism, and from where many young men came to participate in the massacres.
I will also take a further look into the presence of this radical Islam in which the Uzbeks may take refuge. In Osh, an Uzbek told me “we have been in contact with the Islamists. They will come and defend us. It will be the Jihad. It’s not what we want but we don’t have the choice.”

Bio

William’s work revolves around social issues and humanitarian concerns mostly focusing on isolated or weakened communities. He has worked on many global issues such as the 3 main pandemics -Malaria, Aids and Tuberculosis- the Tsunami aftermaths in Asia, Haiti earthquake aftermaths, and he has been working on Kyrgyzstan since late 2007, among others issues. Recently he covered the Libyan conflict on assignment for Polka magazine.

His long-term work on malaria was exhibited in partnership with the Global Fund on the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, in London, at the European parliament in Brussels, and he published it in the book Mauvais Air. His images appear regularly in French and international press: Time, Newsweek, Le Monde, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Polka and he was Awarded once at world press photo, 3 times at Picture of the year and shortlisted in many international awards such as Anthropographia and Sony Awards.

He is represented by Panos Pictures.

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