NewHope PA visitor center-anette-rosenberg

Stories by the River – A New Platform

We chose New Hope, Pennsylvania as our new home from nearly 6,000 miles away, having only some faint memories of pleasant walks along River road some 25 years ago. When we arrived to New Hope, I was overwhelmed by its beauty. The rolling hills, the special charm of the quaint little towns, the arts and galleries, the restaurants and of course, the Delaware River.   I immediately dedicated time to my passion for exploring my surroundings and meeting people. I could have never guessed that there would be such a rich culture of art, music, food, and theater here. I was fascinated with getting to know the people behind the vibrant life that exists in this little town by the river.

Then One Day

talesbytheriver
Tales By The River: A map-based storytelling platform

I met Carl from the Wedgewood Inn and he introduced me to quite a cast of characters. There are so many stories here – inspirational, tragic, funny, absurd, happy …  In each store, down every dirt road, behind desks and sales counters, in the charming local Inns and restaurants, living in small houses you never noticed, there is an entire world. I wanted to hear all of these stories and to understand what made New Hope a community. So I started this personal project, talesbytheriver.com that quickly transitioned into the digital world and next thing I knew, I had a great excuse to get people to tell me their stories.Talesbytheriver, in essence, can develop into a powerful platform for creating a unique map-based storytelling, designed for high content engagement and trust building.

I thought it is time to share this project and thank the people that inspired me and also to invite others communities to share their stories on the platform I created.
Please visit  Tales by the River.

 

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unbounded marketing

Unbounded Marketing- The new era of content

The impact of the latest presidential elections on American society feels like a large meteorite hit the earth, triggering powerful shockwaves that could kill all the dinosaurs. A single event has not had such a powerful impact since the Vietnam War or 9/11. The shockwaves continue and are reshaping the boundaries of right and wrong, left and right, truths and alternative truths, allowed and forbidden. Political correctness is stranded on a beach like a giant whale, out of the water, waiting for some “save the whale organization” to push it back to the water, but unfortunately, the budgets for such organizations have been cut.

Let’s admit it. Somewhere inside most white men, hides a little Donald Trump voice that is now busy dancing a victory dance while giving his finger to the political correctness and chanting “I am the man, I deserve respect and I put the toilette seat up only because I want to be nice, honey.”

And that’s what this new era is all about. Being Unbounded, limitless, crossing the seam lines into the unthinkable. For us digital marketers, it feels like we just walked into a party in the Playboy mansion while on LSD, hosted by a reality star dressed as the President, with an entourage of young blond women feeding BS to the media.

LSD is going to get hard to get with the wall on the border, so how about some cola? Even if you didn’t have TIVO back in 2012 or didn’t spend time on YouTube, there is only a still slim chance you missed the “Uncle Drew” commercial by Pepsi Co., featuring the young basketball star Kyrie Irving dressed as Uncle Drew. Pepsi Co. must have known something about basketball by betting on the young point guard who took the NBA by storm with his remarkable crossover dribble and amazing assists. Five years later and Pepsi has announced the remaking of Uncle Drew into a full feature film.

The Pepsi campaign is a great example of barriers being shattered. Digital YouTube content is converted to a TV ad and now morphs into an actual standalone product, all a part of what is described by Pepsi’s marketing spokeswoman as a digital marketing “ECOSYSTEM” (Buzz alert!). The term “ecosystem” refers to Pepsi Co.’s effort to get the most out of poor old Uncle Drew, by featuring him on every social media feed, video pre-roll and TV ad.  The branding only appears in the background, yet it will gain significant visibility and strength by building clout and creating a booming and continuous echo.

Pepsi Co. has established its own independent content unit – PepsiCo’s Creators League, and invited many good friends to the “Uncle Drew” marketing party.  Temple Hill Entertainment will co-create, The NBA appearing as the VIP guest and several distributors, content streamers and merchandising buddies, soon to be announced. All will enjoy and benefit from slam-dunk in their own digital ecosystems.

Many other brands are on the move to create content ecosystems. Amazon, IBM, Nike to name a few. But it’s not always so easy. When Intel drone dropped the ball to Aaron Gordon during the slam-dunk All-Star 2017 contests, the result was goofy.

This followed an aggressive TV ad campaign with Jim Parson that belong that was amusing but kept on trying to forcefully educate the public that 98% of the cloud is based on Intel parts. Maybe the problem with this campaign was that 98% of the viewers don’t really give a damn how the cloud works. Intel failed to acknowledge that unlike in the old-school ads campaigns, creating an ecosystem requires an all new level of commitment and engagement.

Failing to do it right, can rebound:

dron dunk tweets

That brings me back to the election results. For savvy marketers, it’s easy to see that what goes on today in the White House is yet another ecosystem party, only that this time, the presenter, the Uncle Drew, is for real, or is it? The casting was almost too perfect. Take a grotesque caricature from reality TV; dress him up as a presidential candidate and blast it on every possible media.

But who is the brand behind that ecosystem? Is it a man?  Is it a day trader manipulating the market? Is it a country? All I can discern is that it’s unlikely Mr. Trump himself. This presidency thing is going to be a big league struggle for him with all the needed transparency and formalities.  Perhaps this ecosystem was created only to disguise a brand?

“Civilization must stand up and combat the current collapse of governance, the rise of violence, and the spread of chaos and fear in many parts of the world”

-Rudy Giuliani

One big problem for ecosystems is their vulnerability. It’s enough that one species in the ecosystem will go extinct and the entire ecosystem might crumble like a house of cards. Another scenario is that someone will find the Deja Vu cat that happens to be the bug in the matrix. And how about this unexpected ingenious open source project by Google X robot engineer, Max Braun? It tracks Trump’s tweets and how they influence publically traded companies, making millions for someone out there.

Marketers are taking notice of the opportunities that this new boundless terrain presents. Creativity is awakening, creating new content ecosystems. Those marketers that choose to stay in their comfort zone and not expand their playbook and routines might miss out on invitations to the best parties.  But how long can a party last? And what brand manager wants to wake up every morning with a bad hangover? Just how can you, as a marketer, play it safe and survive the unbounded era safely while still giving good service to your brand?

I would love to help you answer this dilemma, but I am late for a party I was invited to. . .

Social media divides the world

No Friedman, The World Is Not Flat, It’s Split

Pluralism, communities, interconnectivity, sharing, exchanges of ideas  . . . these were the terms used to describe the vision for the Internet by its “founding fathers”. Those idealistic geeks who jumped on early aboard the Internet wagon, envisioned the Internet transforming the world into a place without borders, powered by the spirits of humanism and open source.  And in the early years, it seemed as if we were headed in that direction. Users were called “surfers” and encouraged to post their thoughts, feelings and ideas on forums and mailing lists. In the age before the captcha and fake news, writers were real people with traditional journalistic ethics.

By 2005, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times claimed, in his internationally bestselling book, that “the world is flat”.  He argued that soon, all the remaining walls between people are going to fall and we were all going to embrace the freedom and exchange of thoughts and ideas. Friedman predicted that the change would affect countries, corporations, and even individuals, forcing them to open up and connect in order to remain competitive in global markets where geographical and cultural divisions would become irrelevant.

Yet, in his writing, Friedman ignored the birth of one little website in particular that was being developed right around the same time inside of the dorms of Harvard University. And it would make Friedman’s words irrelevant and change the web and humanity in profound ways no one could have imagined. The birth of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media platforms, ripped apart the vision of the idealistic Internet.  Paradoxically, social media has turned into one of the strongest anti-social forces of our times.   In fact, the introduction of social media may be playing the biggest role in the creation of the divisive world we find ourselves in right now, in which the people are deeply dug into their own world view trenches. It is as if a WW3 sitzkrieg already started.

While social media’s founding fathers are building zillion dollar mansions in Hawaii, the platforms they created are polarizing society, being misused by terrorists and governments, instigators and psychos.  But are they the only ones at fault for this absurd situation?  Well, we all are.  Campaign directors, content managers, marketers, all of us who cynically use these platforms to promote our products and ideas are taking advantage of and further aggravating the split. Perhaps, we are no better than weapons dealers who cynically arm naïve, patriotic fighters with ammunition, knowing that the means does not justify the ends but only serves to ensure that the war goes on and provides more opportunities for us arms dealers to sell more ammunition. We watch how each camp just keeps digging into their possocial media marketing world-smallitions deeper, and readies to launch further attacks against anyone with a different point of view.

And here is the amazing fact about this world we have created:  there is not one single documented case of someone that actually switched sides as a result of our work. We boldly brag about our likes and shares and exposure, yet I have never met a single person who admitted that he read a post on Facebook that was so compelling that it led him to change his world view. No matter how funny or “engaging” our posts are, we end up serving them to the same crowd every time — an audience that is already convinced of what we are trying to prove. As people dig into their ideological trenches, they are not alone; they bring their entire social graph with them. Very few people will ever dare to come out of their trenches and venture to the other side to expose themselves to a different point of view. Their social network might call them out as a traitor. “How could you “like” that guy’s page?” Many people have talked about the need to unfriend their friends on Facebook when their political tendencies were revealed during this last election.

And this carries over to the real world. Not long ago, a friend of mine who is an orthodox Jew sat with me in a non-kosher Café in Tel Aviv to have coffee. He looked nervous. When I asked him if it upset him because he worried about offending God, he said “No, it’s not about God. I am afraid that someone from the orthodox community will recognize me sitting here and then shame me on Twitter.”

When it comes to religion, sports, politics, gender, race and even entertainment, millions of people are engaged in wars with one another. And they just keep shooting at one another. This is not your old-fashioned Coke vs. Pepsi campaign.  This is about the escalation of rhetoric to such a level that too many times; it is ending up in real violence.

The divisiveness clouds the user’s judgments and choices. Social media is structured in such a shallow way that users are continuously forced to pick sides. You either LIKE something or not. It is hard to not align with one side or the other in a binary world. Today in the USA, you are conservative or liberal, pro-choice or pro-life, Republican or Democrat, flip or flop, good or bad. We have UltraHD TV’s now yet see the world through one big black and White filter. And when you feel the urge to get away, like you have had too much, it’s almost impossible to escape. It chases us in our feeds, in all of our devices . . . 24/ 7.

Marketers view this split as an opportunity. They develop messaging that reinforces a particular world view – you are either a success or a looser, good looking or unattractive. I can swipe you right or swipe you left.

trum tweet
                                             My favorite Trump tweet

 

 

Campaign managers and PR professionals take the divisive language to the next level. “You’re either with us or against us. The country is in awful condition. We need to change everything and make it great again”.

Many people I know were in total shock after this last presidential election. They had no idea this was coming. And the reason they had no idea is because that they never venture outside of their trenches.  They haven’t engaged in any real dialogue in years. They read posts that reassure their own world paradigm. Only with the election’s post-mortem, did they start to hear the other voices.

The world is truly split. And now, we will have the symbolic gesture of an actual wall on the border with Mexico, while the countries two Presidents are exchanging punches on Twitter.

Is there anything we can do as marketers, as people, as communities? Maybe it’s time for us to take leadership and start a “tear the virtual walls down” campaign. I have some ideas on how to run this one on Facebook.

 

 

inbound marketing team-2017

How to build a winning digital marketing team: A game plan for 2017

Marketing is a team effort, even more so when it comes to digital marketing.  The work is agile and is done in real time.  Pressure to perform or react can soar within seconds. The team must be responsive and able to get things done fast.  To assure success, a digital marketing team needs an overall strategy, good ad-hoc coaching and leadership. At the risk of being cliché, I find that a sports analogy is the easiest way to explain this concept, and building a basketball team is a great example.

Six steps to a winning digital marketing program in 2017:

 

inbound marketing team infographics-20171. The Team

Every marketing manager knows that the success of his marketing efforts depends on his ability to put together and manage a cohesive team that shares their knowledge and can enhance the performance of each individual. Even with has a rising superstar, an inexperienced rookie or an all-star freelance lineup, your team must be well directed, know to work together and be committed to the overall strategy. Team players are not to be confused with “yes men.” Your team should have a good internal dialog while encouraging innovation and new ideas.

When managing the marketing for an organization or a brand, your team should include these team members in-house or as freelance.

Inbound Marketing Leader

The team expert that creates the strategy and makes sure it is properly executed. This is your coach.

Content Marketing Manager

Responsible for feeding the content hungry beasts – web, social, PR etc. This creative position is your point guard.

 Social Media Manager

Responsible for the day to day operation of the social media outlets and the unique voice of the brand, the dialog with the community and the data from the venues. This is your three point shooting guard – think Steph Curry.

SEO/SEM/Data analyst

This job could be divided into three positions. The responsibility includes managing SEO/SEM while collecting and analyze the web data, mining data and feeding it back to the team constructively. Someone needs to play defense in every game – this is your power forward.

Web/App Master

This position requires a background in web or app development. Most likely it will require managing outsourced vendors and project management skills.

This is your center, not too creative but feed him the ball next to the hoop and he will dunk.

Designer/UX

Your brand needs to be highly visual – a consistent intuitive language carried across all outlets. The mobile revolution of the web requires a good understanding of UX. And someone needs to assure that you just plain look good out there.  This person is like a shooting guard making the  pretty and elegant shots.

 

2. Schedule

The work is highly agile but that does not mean that you don’t need to plan. Quite the opposite. You need solid anchors on you calendar that will allow you to assure that the work is moving forward and goals are met. Consider your pre planned trade shows, company events and meetups, holidays, on and off season peeks, when you build your activity GANTT chart. Plan for reasonable work load distribution, budget availability, advanced resources hiring and needed development time.  It is easier for your team to tackle unplanned challenges and pursue new opportunities when they have advanced knowledge of assignments.

3. Game Plan

Do you have a strategy in place? A digital strategy should sync with your business strategy. It needs to be broken down into Inbound and content strategy, social strategy, SEO strategy, etc. Each strategy should be broken down into specific targets and action items. This game plan needs to be approved by your management. It needs to have clear goals and budget. The plan and the schedule need to be in sync and to explain who is responsible for what, when and how.

4. SCRUM

The modern way of development software can be applied to your digital marketing modus operandus. I define Scrum as an agile way of completing complex tasks as a team and many of its elements especially the daily run are a great way of pulling together your team and staying on course. This is like a timeout in basketball to plan your next few moves on the court.

5. Test Everything

If you haven’t already, watch the movie Moneyball. Use your gut instincts but test everything. You just can’t assume general truths anymore. The proof is always in the pudding – or the numbers.

6. Analyze and Refine

When you do test things, campaigns, activities, messages or even players, make sure to run good analyses that are conclusive. For that, you need to ask the right questions. For example, instead of asking “was that a good campaign?” ask- “what was the ROI on the campaign and how does it compare to other efforts?”.

With concrete conclusions in hand you can now go back to your plan and make changes.

Play ball!

 

*Icons represent all genders

pogo sticking seo

How to avoid pogo sticking on your website

The tl,dr version:

Pogo Sticking can seriously hamper your SEO content. Here is what needs to be done:

  1. Find and fix technical and UX issues that might cause the problem (Site speed, mobile friendliness).
  2. Identify potential hostile activity.
  3. Get rid of popups.
  4. Make sure your content is relevant to the search term.
  5. Don’t use misleading headlines.
  6. Make your content clear.

 

The Bad News: If your content suffers from a high bounce rate, then it might be due to “pogo sticking” and this dreaded phenomena can significantly harm your SEO efforts. And even worse is that it might not be your fault.

The good news: There is a lot you can do to avoid or fix pogo sticking, once discovered.

Definition

The term “Pogo Sticking” (PS) is being used loosely to explain the phenomena when web users arrive to a page and quickly leave. To be more precise, it is the behavior of web users arriving to a website from an external source, such as search engines or content discovery engines, and immediately bouncing back to the referring site.

We are all pogo sticking at times. We search something on Google or click on a link and within seconds we hit the back button and go back to the referring site. Why? Sometimes we arrive to a website that takes forever to load and we lose our patience and leave. Other times, we quickly realize that we arrived to the wrong place. Studies show that it takes only few seconds for the average user to make that judgment.

According to KISSmetrics, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Users come and go. They bounce off websites all the time.  So what’s the big deal?

There are two primary reasons why you need to be concerned about pogo sticking. The first reason has to do with the user experience and the interaction of visitors with your site. If users have a bad experience on your site, or the site fails to load fast enough, they are less likely to engage with your content and proceed in the journey you want them to take. Even worse, they are less likely to return. Once they visit your site, even for a few seconds, links to your site on their search results will be indicated in a different color, helping them to recognize that they have already visited your site and possibly to associate your brand with the bad experience that made them hit the back button. Such a visitor will likely not give you a second chance.

The second reason why pogo sticking is bad news has to do with the SE that tracks user interaction with your site. A site with a high pogo sticking rate is a clear indication to the search engine bots – it tells them that something is not right with the user experience on the site or that the users are not satisfied with what they find. The Google bots can then conclude that there are better sites with better answers out there and as a result the algorithms will drop your page rank.

So is there anything you can do to fight pogo sticking on your site?

There are a few immediate steps you can take to fight the phenomena. With that, it is important to note that there are some black hat SEO tactics that attack sites by fake pogo sticking their rival sites.   Identifying hostile activities has always been an interesting challenge to Google engineers and PS is yet another one they need to tackle.

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Take immediate action:

  1. Find and fix technical and UX issues that might cause the problem (Site speed, mobile friendliness, browser compatibility, language, etc.).

The average human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds now. Microsoft Corp.

  1. Identify potential hostile activity. This is tough. It is hard to identify the problem and it is unclear what can be done if you do suspect you are under attack. You might try to block some traffic and IP’s of suspected repeating abusers or contact the abuse team at Google . But good luck with that . . .
  1. Get rid of popups! Popups scare users away. The latest revival of popups comes with a price. I’ve noticed a sharp increase in bounce rate on pages where we have added popups. My tip – don’t add them unless you are absolutely sure it’s necessary, and when you do, add them only upon exit triggers. Monitor the user behavior and the potential damage and see if the benefit of keeping them outweighs the risk.
  1. Make sure your content is relevant to the search term.

In this day and age, power lies with the users. If you SEO for Z but you serve your visitors with Y, they will put an X on your site and hit the back button before engaging.  If you think that Y should interest anyone who was looking for Z – forget about that. People only want what they are looking for today.

  1. Don’t use misleading headlines.

Clickbait sucks! It will get you more traffic at first but users will PS the hell right off of your site. Be transparent and don’t mislead your users.

  1. Make your content clear.

Use a clear structure of headlines, sub-headlines, paragraphs, fonts, etc. Don’t be over creative at the expanse of being incoherent. Respect the time limitations and the shrinking attention span of your users.

While taking these steps won’t totally eliminate pogo sticking on your site, it will reduce it and make visitors and search engines feel good about your site.

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Featured image: By XpogoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

layer cake website

The Four Layers of Website Content

 

“Are you primarily working with clients on their Facebook & Twitter content?” This question came up in a Q&A after a lecture I gave at a digital conference in Tel Aviv.

The answer? “Actually, no, we’re too busy working on core content issues,” I answered.

What is core content, you ask? To answer this, we need to take a look at the following chart I frequently refer to in my presentations:

The Four Layers of Website Content

It all Starts with the Core

 In almost all B2B websites, one of the most visited page is the “about” page. If you don’t believe me, check your analytics.

This should not be a huge surprise, we all like to know whom we are doing business with. I find more and more website that are very busy with the top layers of content of their websites. That is a good thing, but not on the expense of keeping the the core pages of the site fresh and engaging.  Failing to do so, will screw up the entire balance and UX of the site.

The Core

The core content on a website will typically provide the fundamental information about the company, the service or product. It may include webpages such as “About”, “Contact”, “ Team”, “product information” etc. The main challenge in these types of pages is to balance the need to be informative and SEO friendly without being too dry, and to be able to create engagement. On the other hand, content managers should avoid the trap of trying to look too cool and slick while creating a user experience that compromises the functionality and accessibility of the core content.

The Service Layer

More and more users expect to get service online. This can be done through an enclosed log-in area. It might be a fancy dashboard with functional features or just plain access to premium information. The service layer information can and should provide consistent and coherent fresh content. Examples are “my.subaru dashboard” or “my-real-estate-mls-portal”.  Although the data and numbers are usually machine generated, there is a place for customizing content language and creating a distinct experience.

Inbound Repository

All of the content that serves the site’s inbound marketing efforts needs to be stored somewhere and the best place for it is in your website. Blog posts, posts with videos, press releases, interviews, surveys and courses, all should be in the website.  The benefits of having this type of content on your site are enormous. It helps your SEO ranking and brings search traffic to the site. It helps build authority and it enhances trust both for users and for SE bots. The content, while situated on the site, can always be distributed on social media platforms and draw even more traffic and clout inwards. With the help of good inner linking and tagging, it could also help the other content layers.

Promotion Funnel

Landing pages, shopping carts, remarketing generated content are all typical examples of native, yet non-organic content elements. While online marketing geeks like to keep them isolated, mostly for tracking needs, they could be woven more organically into the site’s fabric and bring even better long term results.

Lately, more and more site owners realize that their content needs to be redone from the ground up. The core of the content needs to be kept fresh and relevant. That is even more critical to attend to before turning to work on all of the content layers.  Sometimes, this process can open a whole can of fundamental questions about the business and the brand. Positioning and messaging are suddenly on the table for discussion again. But no need to panic. This is a great opportunity for companies to freshen their marketing narrative and to re- focus. This is highly critical work that should impact many other aspects of a business.

web content mistakes

Website Content Marketing: 5 most common mistakes

“If you build it they will come”. This mantra tends to be misunderstood by many online marketers.  When it comes to website content, it is crucial to deploy a well thought out the strategy, to use the right platform and the right content distribution channels. BUT that is not enough!  If you build it, they won’t come – unless you do a whole lot more.

Once the initial, core content is created, you need a consistent and ongoing content effort. That takes dedication and long term vision, as well as lots of trial and error. Some of the content will strike gold and bring visibility and traffic, while other content efforts will fail to achieve what you hoped for. Anyone who builds it and waits for them to come, will be doing just that. Waiting.

Here are some common website content pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Me First

Have you ever been on a date with someone who only spoke about themselves? It’s annoying, right? Self-absorbed folks tend not to listen to others or to show interest or empathy to the needs of others. Everyone wants to be heard. When your website messaging is all about you and how great you are, it influences your audience’s  perception of you and can reduce trust in your brand.

Instead,  focus on your audience, their needs and their interests. If you convey to them that you understand their needs and desires, you are much more likely to  win their trust and successfully engage with them.

  1. Too Much SEO

“Landscaping services, Landscaping services in PA, Landscaping services in Philadelphia, landscaping for your landscaper . . .yada, yada, yada” . . .if your website optimization efforts interrupt the natural, organic  flow of your content, you are overdoing it. Not only will your audience find it awkward but chances are that the Google bot will recognize that your site suffers from keyword stuffing and other SEO tricks meant to artificially raise your site ranking. And Google might punish you for that. The best  strategy is to consistently develop content with your user’s experience in mind. Resist the temptation to overdo SEO.

  1. Marketing Clutter

Left brained digital marketers tend to get obsessed with marketing technologies and numbers. “Measure everything” is a good practice, but overdoing it can inhibit content flow and creativity. I was recently in a meeting where the marketing team techie had been A/B testing. He amended the site to such an extent that the UX team member was understandably upset about the site losing its delicate design balance – which was what made the site work in the first place.  When it comes to digital content, don’t let the numbers distract you from your creative path.

  1. The Template

With the successful adoption of open source CMS platforms, such as WordPress, the web  is beginning to look like a collection of cloned websites. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The success of the themes marketplace makes it incredibly easy for marketers to create wonderful, responsive sites. Now it is their job to tweak and to adapt the templates into telling their unique story and to create a memorable experience. This can be a challenge if you are playing it safe and relying heavily on the template defaults.

  1. Frozen in Time (Inactivity)

No matter how beautiful your website may be, when a user visits your site for the second time and observes that there is no change since his first visit, there is no incentive for him to visit again.  A website is not a brochure! It needs to change, to evolve and to be dynamic. Otherwise, the Google bots will not rank you well  and users will not be tempted to visit.

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”Robert Cormier

writing on boring subject like riding a bike

5 Ways to write an interesting article … on a boring topic

Ever need to write an article on a really boring topic? You probably worried that the outcome will also be boring and no one will want to read or share your writing.  No need to panic.   Here are 5 tips that will help you spice things up and make your digital article writing on a boring topic, easy as pie.

writing inteesting content for the website

Mindful Writing

Take your reader hand in hand on a journey. Make them feel that they are having an exclusive, exciting, meaningful, inside experience.

  1. The” Clean Slate” Method or “Playing it Dumb.”

Before even starting to write, clear your head of any pre-existing knowledge on the topic. Now put on a set of ignorance glasses through which you will look closely at the topic of the article. This perspective makes anything look a bit strange. It can lead to a fresh and innocent perspective on the topic.

Let’s say, for example, that you need to write about the water level on the Delaware River in New Hope, PA.  If you don’t live on the river or kayak there every so often, that could sound really boring to you. But try playing dumb and ask questions out of ignorance. For example: You can ask “Why should I care about the water level?” The answer, “So your butt will not get scratched when you go tubing!” A mixture of ignorance with humor can be a great ice breaker that will help ease into a more serious discussion.

  1. Make it Personal

People can get bored reading an article, but they love a good story. So tell them one and make it personal. For example, let’s say you are trying to write about a math conference for a university website. You can start your story with the anxiety attack you had when you heard about the assignment – when  it  took you back to your high school pre-calculus class. You could tell how son’s school calculator is so sophisticated you wonder if he does math in school or goes to class to learn what each button actually does.

  1. The Outstanding Angle

Even the most boring topics include some odd or outstanding facts or numbers. Shine the light on these issues and you can find a great story to tell. Let’s go back again to New Hope, PA where I happen to live right now. What if you need to write about the D & L Trail – Delaware Canal Towpath? Your research shows you that many people before you have covered this topic already and have provided all of the interesting places on the trail. So how can you avoid just repeating the same information? How could you provide something unique? You could stand it on its head and write about the great places the trail misses. For example Bowman’s Hill, which is less than 0.5 a mile from the trail, is a must stop to anyone who is hiking in the region. Or write about where to go after a nice walk – like that little coffee place that the locals like.

  1. The “Official Quote” Method

When the topic appears to be extra boring and writing is even more challenging, you can always resort to quotes. Official quotes from Wikipedia, official census statistics or funny quotes from famous people will do the job. For example, if your topic is “urbanization in the 18th century”, you could start by quoting the “official” definition of “urbanization”. Then you can argue or defend the relevancy of the definition for today versus the 18th century. Ask and answer the question. Why was the topic important? Is it still relevant to us today? And what about the future, will it still be relevant?

  1. Mindful Writing

People might prefer living the experience than just reading about it.

To deliver an actual experience to the reader, you can use mindfulness and meditation techniques. This can get the reader not just interested but also emotionally involved. Take your reader hand in hand on a journey. Make them feel that they are having an exclusive, inside experience. Here you are, riding your bikes on the canal path. The warm spring wind brings you back to a fun childhood memory of riding your bike with friends. Suddenly you realize that you’re smiling. You are not quite sure why.  Is it because of the picturesque canal on your right? Is it the blue sparkling waters of the Delaware River on your left? Who cares? As long as you can feel the story, you are in.

 

This post is based on a previous post written with Gil Slovik from the content Hub (Hebrew)

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.