the sally sisson blog


December 1, 2011

Web content and the eternal home page question: How much is too much?

 

education websites | xkcd venn diagram

I love this Venn diagram by xkcd. It was projected on the wall at the start of a Future M seminar I attended this September called “Beyond the University Website – The Future of Digital Marketing in Higher Education.” This image keeps coming back to me, in content decisions for both edu and B2B.

Sponsored by ISITE Design, and moderated by chief strategy officer Jeff Cram, the panel included Mike Petroff, Web and Technology Enrollment Manager at Emerson College; Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer at Harvard; Gene Begin, Digital Marketing Director at Babson College; and Tom Baird, Vice Chancellor of University of Michigan Dearborn.

Content Overload? It’s all about balance.

I’ve been working on content strategy, optimization, writing and editing for an independent preK-8 school website this year and am about to begin on one for an independent high school. Funny how, regardless of the size of the school, the home page issues always seem to be the same.

How to balance content for current vs. prospective students and constituents? How many news feeds, blog feeds, photo and video galleries do you really need? How can we make sure it’s all optimized for search? What is the true purpose of the home page anyway? How much is too much?

I’m knee-deep in content migration from one CMS to another on the above mentioned website, but once I come up for air I’ll grapple with this question some more. Got any formulas for success? Would love to hear them.

FutureM wrap-ups:

Here are a couple good summaries of the FutureM seminar, along with some choice tweets on CMS quandries (as universal as the homepage ones, it seems to me), mobile stats for edu, and the need for social strategy:

Open Parenthesis: Future M on Higher Education
post by John Eckman of ISTE

Inside FutureM: Digital Marketing and Higher Education
post by Erik Devaney on New England Post

 

 

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January 24, 2011

The Life (and Death?) of STORYTELLING: Ten top posts of 2010

image from getstoried.com
image from getstoried.com

Once upon a time… storytelling was the domain of kindergarten classrooms and creative writing courses. Over the past decade it’s found its way into advertising, marketing and business consulting, and countless articles on all of the above.

Stories inspire and connect us. From ancient cave paintings to Super Bowl commercials to transmedia storytelling, they illustrate, resonate and—when done well—stick with us for a long time.

Here are some of my top picks on the topic. Instead of synthesizing what’s already been written so well, I’ll let these speak for themselves.

1. Harvard Business Review: The Power of Storytelling

In a conversation with HBR, Robert McKee, the world’s best-known screenwriting lecturer, argues that executives can engage people in a much deeper—and ultimately more convincing—way if they toss out their PowerPoint slides and memos and learn to tell good stories.

2. Copyblogger: How to Captivate Your Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright)

There’s been a fevered interest in the art of storytelling among the marketing crowd recently. We are told that story—applied to salesmanship, preaching, advertising, conversation, marketing, songwriting, and blogging—contains the power to deliver the world to the deft storyteller’s door. But what is a well-told story? Take a lesson from David Mamet.

3. Chris Brogan: Storytelling for Business

Stories are how we learn best. We absorb numbers and facts and details, but we keep them all glued into our heads with stories.

4. Smashing Magazine: Better User Experience with Storytelling

Our information…has become watered down, cloned, and is churned out quickly in 140-character blurbs. We’ve lost that personal touch where we find an emotional connection that makes us care. Using storytelling, however, we can pull these fragments together into a common thread. We can connect as real people, not just computers.

5. Ten Ways to Story Your Business (or Product or Brand)

Nine wise tips, plus #10: Remember that if you don’t tell your story, your story will probably get told for you—in a way that may damage your business.

image from semanticstudios.com
image from semanticstudios.com
6. Content Rules: What Does Business Have to Do With Storytelling?

The idea of storytelling as it applies to business isn’t about spinning a yarn or fairytale. Rather, it’s about how your business exists in the real world: how people use your products—how they add value to people’s lives, ease their troubles, help shoulder their burdens, and meet their needs.

7. Mark Levy: Telling the Same Story Differently

An insightful post inspired by Matt Madden’s ingenius cartoon book “99 Ways to Tell a Story.”

8. Transmedia Storytelling: The Psychological Power of Story

The ultimate mashup of ancient traditions and new communications models.

9. Harvard Business Review: When Storytelling Isn’t Enough

Fast Company founder Alan Webber says storytelling is overrated and declares, “Content isn’t king, context is king!”

10. Bite: The Death of Storytelling?

“We are all striving to tell stories. But are we making more noise than news?”

What do you think?

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December 7, 2010

The key to Groupon’s success? A stable of great copywriters.

Okay, so it’s not only about the clever content. But it’s the reason I read my Groupon coupon every morning as I sift through the clutter in my in-box. And I’m not alone.

Back in September I posted a link to this article from VentureBeat about writing as the key to Groupon’s remarkable success. Now whenever I read about the social-buying site and Google’s billion-dollar takeover offer, the copywriting bit remains top of mind.

Read the article here:

The Secret of Groupon’s Success Is… Good Writing?

“Chief executive Andrew Mason said today that the success of his popular social buying site Groupon had less to do with brilliant tech and more with good writing, and with unfashionable technology like email.

“Groupon employs a staff of 70 writers to create the text of all its group deals, Mason said. It might be easier to ask the businesses offering the deals to write the content, or perhaps to find some way to automatically generate the text, but Mason said that having well-written, engaging content is a key part of convincing users to keep reading…”

groupon 2

To be continued…

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