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creating meaning with content

A Note to My Dad About Twitter

When I talk to my dad about using Twitter and social media for work, I always get the inevitable: “Why do people use Twitter, anyway? What a waste of time. I mean, honestly, who really cares if you went to the gym or what you had for dinner?” That is true, no one cares if you went to the gym or had KFC for dinner.

But there are some things I do care about. For example, a couple of months ago when I was driving down Mission St. in San Francisco, I saw a bank with a huge hole in the window. Was it a robbery? A bomb? At home, I checked news sites and Googled…nothing. Then I turned to Twitter, typed in a few key search terms, and within moments saw reports from people who witnessed a Mercedes drive into the bank. (Luckily, no one was hurt.) Folks even posted pictures via Twitpic — a third-party Twitter app that lets you share photos. See, that’s useful.

Another example is a neighborhood restaurant that tweets its daily menu. C’mon, that’s pretty handy as well. And, if I want to know who’s tweeting on a particular topic, I can use third-party TweetDeck to search for tweets and monitor a given term for mentions in the Twitterverse.

In an increasingly ADD, online, information-overloaded world, Twitter helps us cut to the chase quickly. (And probably perpetuates my own ADD.) Not to mention that, as a writer, Twitter helps me be clear and concise, not wasting a single extra word or character.

So you see, dad, there are some useful Twitter applications. Follow me @alexkrasne to find out what I ate.

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Filed under: web 2.0,

Creating successful messaging

You can use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Yammer, build a fancy web site, create a blog — all in the hopes of getting attention. And you may very well get some attention through those vehicles. The sad truth is that you will quickly lose those hard-earned eyeballs if your message isn’t clear. And if your message isn’t clear, it will fail.

faeryboots *away for the weekend!*

That’s why keeping content fresh, to the point, and easy to understand is the key to successful messaging. Remember, your readers don’t have hours to peruse your copy so don’t waste their valuable time with marketing hype and frilly language. Put the meat in the first sentence, delivering the “five W’s and an H” journalism punch right away — the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Let’s look at two examples, shall we:

The wrong way: Company X is pleased to announce its latest mind-blowing invention that will change millions of lives. This revolutionary new product is one business users have always been searching for and will truly revolutionize business travel as we know it. We are thrilled to offer Product X to you at a low cost. Just click this link to find a list of fine retailers offering the product.

The right way: Geared toward business travelers who aren’t often near a wall outlet, Product X by Company X is a $59.95 solar-powered device that plugs into your USB port and extends the life of your computer’s battery by 60 percent. (Product X is now available online at Amazon.com.)

In the right way, readers get information upfront, stripped of all the nonsense. They can get in, get out, and buy the product. (If they want to read more, provide a link so they can.) In the wrong way, the wording is vague, sentences filled with useless adjectives, and it takes a long time to get to the point — if there is a point. Create content for someone in a rush and your readers will thank you by becoming customers. A novel approach!

So what are your big content questions? What sorts of head-scratchers do you come across when crafting content? Please ask your questions in the comments.

photo credit: faeryboots *away for the weekend!*

Filed under: content, journalism101, , , , , , , ,

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