I have a confession to make, and it just might tick off a few of my social media colleagues. Here it is: I do not like blog postings like this:
Here’s a partial screen grab:
Look, we don’t know Martin Lieberman (author of the article, above), nor do we wish to inflame or seriously criticise the kind of work he does, which he clearly takes seriously. Instead, we’ll talk generally about some trends we see, and how we, through New Content, hope to push back against these trends.
Let’s start with the imagery. The number one rule of blogging has always been to include an image. For every post! The Internet is a visual medium, and images draw the imagination, and increase attention span. Here’s mine for this post:
Are you tired? I am too. Of stock photography (credit down below) that relates only obliquely to the subject matter of the blog, if at all.
You’ve all seen it (those of you who read blogs and online content even half as much as we), and you all recognize it by the washed out white backgrounds (which blend nicely into our blog because we have a business like, white theme and background). This kind of image is instantly recognizable as “stock”, and we think it yells “I’m too lazy to go out and take my own picture, so I’ll use some cute online photo to fill up some space I might even attribute it if I feel generous.”
I don’t like it, I don’t like the fake plastic trees (apologies to Radiohead) look about it, and I do think it’s a lazy way to pad the blog post. I’ll go so far as to say that if you cannot think of a legitimate photograph that you yourself could not take (or have taken) then you should do without.
Well written words ought to be able to stand alone, and if not, then we’d recommend working on your writing and editing over your ability to search for a picture. Cute as it may be.
NewContent will strive at all times to take original, high quality photography to illustrate client work and content. Take a look at this post, or this one. We are particularly fond of this post about coffee.
It just looks better.
Rich vs. shallow content
One of the indefatigable rules of blogging is to adhere to the KISS principle; keep it simple, short, and to the point.
The idea is to market to the short attention spans of people who consume electronic media, and in the past – when Websites needed to be optimized for fast loading times (among other reasons) – this was an important consideration. It isn’t so much now, and short and simple equates to dumbed down and trite in our books.
We think there is a market for rich content, that truly tells a story. We think that simple often equates to shallow. We believe further that people are interested in deep meaningful conversations, not the equivalent of the Metro News.
Sure, make it easy for your readers; provide a synopsis or a tl;dr, but don’t presume that your readership is only interested in short, sharp, tripe.
Summarize, you say?
Let’s try. We’ll call them NewContent’s NewRules.
1 –Use original photography, not stock. Take the time to take the photos that help tell your story. White backgrounds are from the last millenium (no, really, they are) and exude cheapness. If you cannot think of an image that helps tell the story, then consider that the story is perhaps best left unaccompanied.
2 – Present rich content. Yes, short, sharp, tripe has a purpose. Usually, that role is filler of the “oh what shall I post today” variety. And yes, we at NewContent have our ow forms of filler and fluff. But it should not represent the majority of your content.
3 – Engage in meaningful conversations. Take a look at the comments sections of some blogs, and you will often find a dearth of interesting conversation. In our case, this can be explained by our being new, and still building both a name and an online presence for ourselves. But often, the depth and value of the commentary and discussion mimics the depth of the posting that precedes. You can change that. (Remember to respond with the same sincerity and intellect that you would see int eh first place.)
So in summary, yes! Provide useful information, make personal connections, be interesting, and foster discussion. But don’t cheap out in doing all of this, and be authentic and meaningful, too.
I (The Content Monkey) would love to discuss this with our fellow SM consultants and gurus, and hear what you say. I am ready for the flames, so let rip. Wat say ye, colleagues?
Photo of a tired lady – Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net