Friday, January 30, 2015

The weekend read

The week is all over your desktop, isn't it--evidence of your path to Friday, messy though it may be. Time to clear some space for my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you, communicators. You never know what's hiding under that pile:
So glad you made room on your desktop for me on a Friday. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for the workshop featured above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do your social channels have a nose for search?

A client who's experimenting with Pinterest was telling me about some early success in getting items repinned--enough to make him more interested in using it as a marketing tool. "But some of the repins are for things I posted a long time ago. How are people finding them?"

He was thinking of Pinterest as a big stream of posts. But I think of it as a powerful search engine--and if you're smart, you'll choose your social-media options based on how well they support you when people are looking for what you have.

This wasn't always the case. I found Pinterest's original search options clunky and random, but now Pinterest has the funding to invest heavily in expensive search-engine improvements, with a valuation earlier this year of $5 billion. (Keeping an eye on hefty investment is one good way to find feature-rich social options.) How has search changed at Pinterest? NPR describes it:
With a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, Pinterest has begun offering what it calls guided search. Pinterest cofounder Evan Sharp told me that guided search helps you find things you didn't know you were looking for. If Google is great when you know exactly what you want, Pinterest can help you figure out what you want. As you search, Pinterest will suggest tags that you could add to help narrow your query. Search for hats on Pinterest, and you might get fedora or baseball or church lady as suggestions. The lesson here is that the simplest things we do on the Internet, when you multiply them by millions of people, create troves of data that were just inconceivable at any other time in human history. And in many cases, the companies who possess the data we've created over the past five years are still learning exactly how to harness it to do new things, whether that's making more money for themselves or delivering you up exactly the hat or photograph that you were looking for.
And that's a factor important in this mix. All the metadata and tagging in the universe won't help you as much as the crowd will, when it finds, likes, and shares your content. That's long been true on YouTube, for example, on which users conduct 3 billion searches every month. We talk a lot about online video being the 800-pound gorilla of social media, but it's the powerful search options in YouTube that help make that happen. Blogs have a different search advantage, since search engines read new posts both as updates to the entire blog, and as new web pages with their own distinct URLs, two factors that propel posts higher in search results.

I wrote a few weeks ago about whether your social media plan is open or closed. Often, you can evaluate social media giants with the same criteria when you're trying to determine how their search capability will help you. Generally, a more open network will encourage searching and find ways to support it. More closed networks may not yield all the options, preferring instead to give users more privacy control.

An exception to this has been Twitter, perhaps the most open of the social networks. Twitter, like Pinterest in its early days, has had frustrating options for search. But in its current quest for more advertising options and dollars, Twitter has just announced a search upgrade that will let users search any tweet. Facebook also is in the process of upping its search capability, and in the process, has booted search results from Bing on FB. Turns out Facebook wasn't referring all that much traffic to Bing, but you'll find that it's a great referral engine to YouTube, among others. There's a chart at the link with good data.

(Creative Commons licensed photo of a search dog from the UK Ministry of Defence)

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Don't get caught missing Amazon Prime for just $72--today only

Amazon is celebrating its Golden Globe wins for original show Transparent this way: With a one-day sale on Amazon Prime for $72, down from its regular $99 price. The benefits, as described by Amazon, include:
  • FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items
  • Unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs
  • Instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video
  • Free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Read free books each month through Kindle First and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library
I hear that if you buy Amazon Prime as gift you can get around the requirement that the $72 deal is just for new sign-ups.  Just email the gift to yourself, unhook the automatic renewal for Prime in your subscription settings, and use the gift membership when your current Prime subscription runs out. Buying it as a new subscriber? Just use the same link, above, and uncheck "this is a gift" in your cart.

I signed up for the free two-day shipping (which often is one-day shipping if there's an Amazon warehouse near you and the item's in stock). Unlike many subscriptions, this one keeps adding benefits, most recently the photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive. I find Amazon Music preferable to iTunes, and am a frequent user of Prime movies and TV shows....and I give Prime subscriptions as gifts as well. Grab this great deal, communicators.



















Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The weekend read

Let those children zoom up in their electric cars and mini vehicles. We're going old-school, baby, heading toward the weekend in the classic convertible that is the weekend read--my collection of the reads, leads and data you need, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here, just for you, communicators. Put the top down and get into gear:
I'm always delighted to see you park yourself here on Fridays. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for the workshop featured below, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.


Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On last-minute blog checks and the new getting caught

"That restaurant in Venice isn't where John Irving says it is. It's actually in Milan. What are we going to do?"

Back when I was editing and writing for magazines, you'd have a conversation that started like that with your fact-checker or copy editor, roles that don't exist in many places producing content these days. But what I notice is that many journos and communicators aren't even having that conversation with themselves when they publish. Today, content-producers of every stripe are getting caught in errors, almost hourly. And I'm not the only one noticing:
Smart readers who don't normally get caught will note that these mistakes have in common the ability to get you coverage...just maybe not the coverage you were seeking.

There may well be fewer copy editors and fact-checkers, even at premiere news organizations. But this problem is as old as the hills for both journalists and communicators, and I'm here to say that the same people bemoaning the lack of copy editors were once themselves junior staffers who could spell. No need to be ageist now.

The real difference between then and now is that we're able to easily publish more frequently and faster, and we do. We're also able to work ahead, drafting and adding to stories in the queue, then hitting "publish," and we do. We can use convenient technology like dictation software, which enters errors that aren't typically caught by spelling check software, so we do, without always checking the final product before we publish. I think all those factors contribute far more than the age of your interns or the lack of copy editors to the errors that wind up in your copy. 

As someone who publishes three times a week on each of two blogs--that's six posts per week, dears--I drew on my old-school magazine editing hat when I started blogging. I knew how dangerous it is to have the keys to the publisher's car in your hands, so I instituted a night-before-publication last-minute check for every blog post. It takes seconds, and has saved me untold typos and errors; lets me update late-breaking information; and allows me to sleep peacefully while the first post of the day auto-publishes. In 2014, I was able to write ahead and schedule many posts, a convenience that further demands that last-minute check, since posts written well ahead have every potential to be wrong by the time their spot in the queue rolls around.

There's plenty more to consider when it comes to fixing mistakes pre-publication and your policies for correcting them later. Go here to read all my posts on corrections, including correcting fast-moving breaking news on Twitter, which is a horse of a different color entirely.

Mother Jones rounded up the best news corrections of 2014 if you want more cautionary or amusing versions. What are you doing to reduce or prevent mistakes in 2015? The start of the year is a good time to take an hour to discuss this with your team and figure out your approach for the year...and maybe administer a spelling test while you're at it.

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The weekend read

Stop running, communicators. It's Friday, and the weekend (aka, the finish line) looms ahead. Time to start catching up with the finds, reads and leads you missed. I shared them via @dontgetcaught on Twitter, and curated the best here for you. Let's set the pace for the weekend:
Like a finish line looming just ahead, I'm always delighted to see you here on Fridays. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for one of the workshops above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.