I think it was inevitable. First, the web, then blogs. Content is king. Then Facebook, and then Twitter, and social media is real. Long live the king. The king is dead. We’re gagging on all the content. We need curation. We need to gather and collect — call that curate — our favorite content. The new collection of content is content.
Damn, I don’t need another social media platform. I love Twitter, tolerate Facebook, dabble with Google+, keep up with LinkedIn. I like the ones that let me sign in with Twitter or Facebook. But who needs another one?
But those are all so last year. Now it’s the curation and collection functions driving content. Collect all those tweets, those updates, the links you like, the pictures you like. You put them up on your new curated content site.
Small wonder that Tumblr, Pinterest, Paper.li and others like them are taking off like crazy. For now and 2012, we’re generating so much content everywhere that we’re driving ourselves crazy. I don’t want to estimate how much of my time I spend clipping and linking and gathering and collecting. And everybody’s doing it. Collect and post.
2012’s going to be the year of content collection, and curating.
What the heck, I said this morning, it’s Friday, the last Friday before a holiday week next week, so let’s have some fun. I set out to explore the creativity embedded in blog comments that are distributed en-masse but disguised to look like they’re actually individual comments for individual posts.
I see patterns. Comments like this…
Good stuff… Just killing some time browsing searches and found your post. Great looking website. I’ll have to save the page to come back. Cheers
…look reasonable at first glance. But then you discover they’re posted in excruciating mass repetition on multiple posts on multiple blogs, to embed links and gain artificial search engine advantage. That exact same comment, word for word, was posted on four different posts on two different blogs by four different people at almost exactly the same time.
I do trust all of the ideas you have presented on your post. They’re very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for starters. Could you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.
Good point. I i never thought of it this way before.Very very informative. We have learned alot through your blog many thanks. Ill put your advice to work. Thanks!
Hey man! I completely agree with your thoughts. I really appreciate what you’re providing here.
I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.
Each of these appeared on multiple posts on multiple blogs. Clever?
No, actually. Not that clever at all. I just went through ten pages of this crap without one of them clever enough to merit a post. Dammit. I thought I’d seen some Cantinflas-like doubletalk as the spam comments scrolled by, but actually, no. Not clever, just annoying.
Mark makes his point about the dangers of overfunding a startup with too much outside investment. He says:
Over funding often produces bad behavior in early-stage companies. You hire people too fast, you over build your products, you try to force market adoption and you do PR blitzes before your product is really ready for prime time. And having too much money certainly raises board expectations that you will do big things quickly. No board is going to give you $25 million up front and then expect your year-one staff expenditures to be $2 million.
And that’s great; well said. But I think the underlying problem applies to a lot of other areas in a business. Having three developers doesn’t mean the software project will be done three times faster. A lot of things take time, and time doesn’t divide into meaningful units like bricks.
Yesterday while flying cross country I read State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. It’s about real people in an almost-but-not-quite magical Amazon jungle, and, although the plot moves steadily forward, it’s more of a spell, woven with words by a great writer, than just a story.
As I got off my first plane, I was about 30 pages from finished, and two hours from my next flight. I didn’t check email first. I didn’t get lunch, which was overdue. I sat next to the gate and finished the novel. I was immersed in the Amazon jungle and the spell of a the trees, mushrooms, Indians, scientists, doctors, the deaf boy, the pharmaceutical study, and the pregnancy. It wasn’t just to find out what happens; it was about staying inside the spell, keeping the buzz. What a great book!
This morning, jetlagged and back in Oregon, I woke up before dawn and went to the computer to consider my post today, which was, until now, just the two paragraphs above this one and a title that sounded like a high school book review. So I decided to reconfigure this post, cynically, with a new title, and a more business-compatible title.
So here are my five tips, and when I’m done with them, I’d like to ask you a serious question. If you’re still with me at that point.
1. It’s not just content; it’s writing
I got serious about blogging in 2007 because I like writing. I thought the written word was going to be suffocated by online video, boa-constrictor-like, wrapped up and confined and unable to breathe. That made me sad. But blogs and even social media changed that for me, and I feel better about writing now. There’s hope. The quality of writing makes a huge difference. It’s not just blogging. It’s not just content. It’s writing. Enjoy it.
2. All people love stories
What Ann Patchett does with words on a page is a reminder of why people breathe stories as much as we breathe air. You get in the middle of a great novel and you’re lost in a new world. Trite, but true. If you manage to pull up and out of the story and think about it, it’s part of a human craving for meaning, and to create a world out of pure words is proof of God. This blog, with its title Planning Startups Stories, needs more stories. Should your blog have more stories?
3. A few well-chosen details are magic
An American woman is arriving at Manaus, in Brazil, by plane. Watch the detail:
Marina went past security an customs and stepped out into the lobby full of people who were looking behind her. Young girls stood on their toes and waved. Taxi drivers hustled for fares, cruise directors and Amazon adventure guides herded their charges into groups. An assortment of cheap shops and money changing stations vied for attention with bright colors and brighter lights, and right in the middle of everything stood a man in a dark suit holding a neatly lettered sign with two words: Marina Singh
Do you see what I mean? The plot moves steadily forward as a woman named Marina Singh finds a driver waiting for her. But the detail makes the scene live. How about coming through customs to “a lobby of people who were looking behind her.” That’s perfect.
The details make it come alive like that. Don’t just talk. Create. Write pictures.
4. Lighten up and read for fun more
My wife says angels fly “because they take themselves lightly.” Yesterday on the plane was a reminder to me that I can’t always read the next business book or write the next column or blog post. The goal is living, not working. I had forgotten how much I was focused on business, to the extent that I don’t automatically carry a good book with me when I travel. I’m shocked to realize I do more than 50,000 miles a year, most of which I spend writing, not reading. Big mistake.
5. About the title game
They tell me the best titles are lists of 3, 5, or 10 points, and I’ve seen myself that people like lists of mistakes best of all. So I rewrote this post to play that up with a list of 5 mistakes. Did it work? Would you have read this far if it were titled like a book report on a novel?
And that, by the way, is the serious question I promised in my fourth paragraph, introducing the mistakes: did it work? Should I have just posted the first two paragraphs in this post, and a title to go with just that, and left it there? Or was it worth it to add the somewhat-cynical list of mistakes and change the title? Does this feel like bait and switch to you?
And one final note: I first discovered Ann Patchett several years ago with Bel Canto, which is — believe it or not — a story about people and love and beauty set in a South American hostage crisis. That’s another great book.
(Image: Patricia Wall/The New York Times, from this review by Janet Maslin)
I remember a cartoon I saw in 1999. The woman says she’s really looking forward to the new millennium. The man answers “You should; you’re a woman.” Fast forward to Jessica Bennett and Jessie Ellison with Women Will Rule the World on Newsweek.com. This is a very well researched and well written think piece, well worth reading. And it makes a lot of sense.
Ami Groth tracked statistics on the age of startup founders in People Over 35 Have Recently Launched 80% of the Startups on Business Insider. Being an old guy, I can’t resist quoting this one, at least this paragraph:
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, people over the age of 35 made up 80 percent of the total entrepreneurship activity in 2009. That same year, the Kauffman Foundation conducted a survey of 549 startups operating in “high-growth” industries — including aerospace, defense, health care, and computer and electronics — and found that people over 55 are nearly twice as likely to launch startups in these industries.
Alex Rampell posted an excellent analysis of the guts of new marketing in The Power of Pull on TechCrunch.
Also, some calendar items:
I’m going to be live with with Dr. Amy Vanderbilt at 11 AM PDT today on Trend POV at trendpov.com/content.
I’ve discovered Plancast.com, which lets me post my interview and speaking dates online at plancast.com/timberry. I hope you can join me. I’ll be putting a widget on my sidebar … plancast.com, are you listening? Widgets, maybe?. If you go to that site you can follow me to be able to see my schedule; actually, I think you can see it on that URL whether you follow me or not.
Finally, if you’re an SBDC person and you’re going to the annual conference in San Diego, please join me for a training and certification of my free-for-teachers online curriculum. That’s Sept. 6, the Tuesday before the opening, as part of the “pre-conference.” Please click here for more information on that.
I need your help: Can you suggest a way to give a theme and a title to a series of Friday posts listing good posts and recommended links I’ve seen from the last week? My title here is too dull. I’m not nearly good enough at titles.
I don’t want to do this every Friday, but this is the fifth time since April 1, so I’m thinking maybe I should make it a repeated theme, with a cool title. Except I don’t have the title.
My absolute favorite this week is Megan Berry’s post on Mashable called 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats. It’s a very good short piece on the step-by-step details of doing a twitter chat. Megan’s marketing manager at Klout (and yes, one of my daughters).
Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions, alias the swami of social media, posted 6 Ways to Improve Your Online Content on the Amex OPEN Forum. Shashi knows. He practices what he preaches.
The SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) has an excellent short piece explaining why you need a business plan on SBA.gov. It’s not a blog post published this week, but SBA.gov tweeted it this week, which caught my attention.
The TED blog posted The 20 most-watched TED Talks (so far). How can you resist this best-of-the-best list from the amazing collection at TED.Com. Trivia question answer: TED stands for technology, education, and design.
It is now fixed so I haven’t lost my last two weeks of blogging, and all of your comments, from yesterday’s Amazon Cloud server failure. In the meantime, life goes on. These are some posts I’ve collected this week, posts I want to recommend:
I’ve heard thousands of entrepreneurial stories, some extremely successful, many mediocre, or not successful. That combined with the extensive research my team and I did for this book leaves it clear to me that instantaneous ideas are extremely rare, in business, art, science, or you name it. Mozart was an exception. He was a prodigy. But for the rest of us mortals, it takes lots of small steps and constant iteration to identify big opportunities and problems.
My thanks to John Jantsch for pointing me to 5 Tips for Better Business Storytelling, by Jeanne Hopkins, on Hubspot. Very practical tips. I think story telling is extremely important, and not just for blogging.
Andrew Sullivan’s Look At Me When I’m Talking To You. Very disturbing. I’m guilty of this. Read it. By the way, has anybody else noticed how prolific he is? Like 10 blog posts a day?
Yes, it is restored now, but if you looked at this blog during the 30 hours or so before 1 pm Friday April 22 it would have appeared that I hadn’t posted since April 6: no, I just lost (temporarily thank goodness) two weeks of posts to an Amazon EC2 problem. The cloud computing temporarily swallowed the previous 10 posts and yourthree dozen or so comments. But the good news is that it is all back again, including your comments, as of 1 pm the following day.
You may have heard about what happened today. It affected a lot of major sites, and was written up in TechCrunch. This Google search will give you an idea. Foursquare, Reddit, Quora, and others went down … including me.
As I originally wrote this, late Thursday evening, April 21, our tech team and the Amazon team expected to restore things so I would get my posts and your comments back. And that finally happened early Friday afternoon.
Not fun. A good reminder, though: always back up your stuff. In my defense, I backup my regular work daily, but I wasn’t backing up the WordPress blog except every couple of weeks.
As blogger, former full-time journalist, and long-term entrepreneur, I’m offended from all three sides by journalists complaining that bloggers don’t get paid on the Huffington Post.
I’m offended by the envy. The money Arianna Huffington and her investors made on the sale of Huffington Post to AOL was classic entrepreneurship, earned by taking risks. They risked their time, money, health, and reputations. They established a business, hired people, rented offices, bought computers, bought server space, and all that. So when they make something happen, they deserve the dollars.
I’m also offended by the distortion. Huffington Post does have journalists on staff, and they get paid as journalists. If you don’t get it, you should probably read this explanation from one of them. And Huffington Post also publishes posts from thousands of bloggers, me included, who post there voluntarily, as self expression, mostly opinion, with no expectation of being paid for it. They want an audience. The distortion on the poster (in the illustration here) makes me angry. “You can’t eat prestige” is pure sensationalism, complete distortion.
Is Twitter exploiting people who tweet? Is Facebook exploiting its users?
The house painter gets paid. The landscape painter doesn’t.
The passport photographer gets paid. The news photographer gets paid. The art photographer doesn’t.
The journalist gets paid. The reporter gets paid. The investigative journalist gets paid. The author of the letter to the editor doesn’t.
Some bloggers are journalists, and should be paid. Reporters for Mashable, Engadget, TechCrunch and Read/Write Web, to cite some well-known examples, are journalists, and they get paid. Guest posters aren’t journalists usually, and they don’t usually get paid.
Summary: entrepreneurship is big risk, and big money if you make something that succeeds. Journalism is work and there is expectation of pay. Some blogging is work with expectation of pay, and some is self expression, which is its own reward.
(Disclosure: I blog on the Huffington Post and my son is CTO. I was also a member of the Newspaper Guild as a professional journalist, on salary with United Press International, a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News, and a freelancer.)
Do you know the expression “from your lips to God’s ears?” It means “I hope God hears what you just said, because I want it to be true.”
I say let’s tell Carol Tice “from your keyboard to God’s eyes” for her Why Content is No Longer King post last week on her Make a Living Writing blog. I hope this is true. She says a pendulum has swung back again, so that it’s quality of content that matters, not quantity.
Carol reminds us there was an ugly trend a couple of years back. She called it “content-stuffing:”
Sites stuffed their pages with junk content — much of it almost unreadable, robot-generated SEO garbage — and were rewarded with better rankings in Google searches, and more traffic and sales.
Lots of bloggers went nuts, throwing up any old error-filled, half-baked, two-paragraph post, just to have a post every day of the week. Having boatloads of content was important!
I think we all saw how that was working. I particularly hated the fly-by-night blogs that would steal content and traffic by just copying stuff and filling it full of useful keywords, mucking things up for those of us who actually wanted useful content. Happily, according to Carol, that fell over its own weight:
Eventually, so many sites did the junk-content thing, website readers got hip to it and stopped visiting these sites. The sites quickly lost their credibility. Rankings for junk-post sites went down.
The days when blogs could be sloppy, half-thought-out pieces written in 10 minutes and still succeed are over.
And it gets better. Carol heralds “the new era” in which (drumroll please) …
Great content is king. That’s right – it’s not about quantity any more. It’s all about quality.