How does your success improve the lives of others?

I’ve found the best way to select metrics isn’t to start with numbers, but rather to start with a plain-language statement about what a successful outcome would look like in human terms. In other words, how will people’s lives be improved if your efforts are successful?

via How do you set metrics?

When I’m working on a content strategy (high level) or a content brief (low level), I try to capture some essence of this by asking one of these two questions:

  1. What’s the impact for the reader/viewer of this content?
  2. What’s the takeaway – the thing they’ll learn, or be able to do, from the content?

Otherwise it’s too easy to get caught up in thinking about success as determined by our business, whether that’s quantitative or qualitative. That success is usually tied to things like revenue generated or leads captured or what have you, things that the reader/viewer is far less likely to care about.

To put it another way: As customers we judge the quality of a restaurant by the experience, which encompasses the food and the service and the ambiance. Good reviews and steady revenue isn’t (shouldn’t?) be the goal of the restauranteur – instead, those should be the byproduct of creating a great experience.

And so it goes for content, whether that’s a company blog or a YouTube channel or an in-person event series.

All it takes is one person.

When the news broke yesterday, I hoped it wouldn’t be linked to terrorism. And so far it looks like it isn’t, thankfully.

But that doesn’t change the fact that ten people lost their lives because of one man’s actions.

Yesterday’s attack — and, terrorism or not, it was an attack on our city — is an example of how easily one person can cause so much damage with so little effort.

It’s happened earlier this month in Germany, last October in NYC, and I can’t forget the 2016 holiday market attack in Berlin. I fear we’ll see more incidents like it in the future.

Beyond following the news, I didn’t have much of a reaction to yesterday’s incident. But now that the names of the deceased are coming out, I’m starting to feel it.

“Most decisions are not important.”

The less important a decision, the less information you should try to seek to make it. Effort in gathering information follows a Pareto principle. Getting 100% of information is exponentially harder than getting 80%. Most decisions are not important. Therefore, the vast majority of decisions should be made quickly.

via Making Good Decisions as a Product Manager

I’m trying to get better at doing this – analysis paralysis is too easy, otherwise.

The incentivized cycle of social media outrage

The terror was far more contagious than the virus itself, and had the perfect network through which to propagate — a digital ecosystem built to spread emotional fear far and wide.

via This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit

This is another part of the negative social media equation, alongside unscrupulous data gathering, that leads to the hostile climate we’re currently dealing with.

Outrage leads to engagement, engagement leads to strong algorithmic performance, which leads to greater visibility of outrageous content.

The platforms — i.e. Facebook — want to get that content in front of the people most likely to engage, so the content gets thrown into the echo chamber of a particular user segment. Then the outrage grows and grows and grows until it reaches a fevered pitch.

Platform critics see this behaviour as evidence of a broken system.

Apologists see this behaviour as evidence of unexpected consequences.

Supporters see this behaviour as evidence of society’s flaws. (#notabug)

I’m not sure where I sit. If anything, I think it’s evidence that platforms can’t rely on algorithms alone.

If social networks are going to operate a network while reaping the benefits of acting as a media business, they need to take a stance and enforce content and moderation policies, complete with core values. Or they need to step back and actually act as a platform, leaving others to build on top of their utilities.

Right now they’re trying to be everything, and absolve themselves of responsibility by using their in-house AI as the neutral third party.

So maybe that’s what I fundamentally disagree with – that you can just leave it to AI and machine learning and automate the moderation of civil discourse.

Three types of content for small business blogs (based on the stuff that worked for gaming fansites)

Back when I was building gaming sites our team followed a trifecta for content: News, Opinions, and Guides.

These work just as well for small business blogs.

Check it:

News: Be a reporter.

We wore our reporter hats for this stuff, covering everything from community gossip to breaking news. If we weren’t the first we would be the best, citing multiple sources.

For a business blog, you can take major news stories related to your business and cover them in a way that makes sense to your customers.

Opinions: Establish your voice.

Essays, perspectives, heated rants, speculation and punditry. I loved writing this stuff. It was lengthy and original. This type of content got attention and drove conversations.

If you’re blogging for a business, think about the topics your customers care about. You could also write reviews of products or services related to your business. I’m sure you have an opinion on them.

Your opinions are unique. Your voice is unique. Writing editorials and opinions elevates your voice. It helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It separates you from your competitors.

Guides: Share your expertise.

Our guides were epic, and we tried to position ourselves as the go-to resource for everything. If you had a question about a game we covered, we’d either already have the answer, or we’d go and find the answer and add it to our site.

If you’re building a site for a business, think about the questions that your customers have. What common topics come up? What advice do you consistently give? Producing this type of instructional content presents you and your business as a knowledgeable expert.

“But I hate writing!”

If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, here’s a suggestion: hire one!

You don’t need to be the one writing all this stuff. You just need to be the one who can provide the information that fuels the writing.

Bring a writer in to take your knowledge and translate it to the written word. Ditto for audio or video producers that can help you break into podcasts or video content.

“Just start.”

There’s no reason in today’s world not to be creating content online. Whether that’s your vlog on Youtube, pictures on Instagram, articles on Medium, or a podcast on iTunes. My friends, the key to content success online is you’ve got to start doing. Let me tell you how. Just Start.

I’ve fallen off the Gary Vaynerchuk bandwagon. I was on it for years, going all the way back to “thundershow” days of Wine Library TV.

Maybe it was his demeanor, his evolution from small business owner to motivational speaker. Or maybe it was me getting sick of the bro culture that idolizes him. I dunno.

That said, I still appreciate the core of his message: go out and start something already.