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How to Create Your Content Machine

Content Machine

“Whoa Jon! What’s a content machine?” Great question, voice in my head. Your content machine is how you take in content across multiple channels daily.

It’s simply a collection of all of the news, blog articles, tweets, and one-offs that are being put in front of you by way of Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Reddit.

We often don’t put much thought into our content machines and how we’re setting up channels for consumption. Most of us just go to our favorite sites and happen upon stories we find interesting.

That said, creating your content machine is essential to ensuring that the stories you happen upon are the best in your network, and setting up your channels to do this isn’t very complicated.

The first step is recognizing what your content machine already looks like.

Ask yourself, “What do I find myself reading a lot? Newspapers? Whatever randomly pops up on my Facebook?”Which bookmarks am I actually checking?”

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge what sources influence you the most. From there, you can fine-tune these channels to supplying you with great content whenever you need it.

Next, let’s go through some of the more common channels and see how we can make them work for our content machine more effectively.

1. Email. 

I put this at the top because this is the apex of my own content machine, and probably yours as well. It’s a given that your email is where most of your subscriptions funnel in, so I would recommend starring the websites you find most useful.

Or you can be more proactive and research some great news aggregation sites that will send you great links to explore every morning. I rely a lot on PRSA for example, since I am a member and receive great stories from them. (Subscribing to jonnegroni.com can’t hurt either)

2. Twitter.

Yes, there is more to Twitter than just gaining followers and playing with hashtags. Making Twitter work for your content machine is a little trickier than email, because it requires a little more work than just subscribing to great stuff.

You want your news feed to be filled with great content you can access on the go, so I recommend following the followers of your passions. I love to blog, so I follow a lot of bloggers. The payoff is that my news feed is full of great stories that are relevant to me and whoever I share them with.

If you have a cluttered feed beyond repair, remember that you can always create lists and bookmark them for daily use!

If you want to use Twitter for fun and professional networking, consider making two separate accounts.

3. LinkedIn.

Similar to Twitter, your updates feed on LinkedIn can work wonders for your content machine. Thankfully, LinkedIn is a little easier for sorting good content from sillier updates, and you can always customize what shows up in your feed.

Be sure to also join a lot of groups with like-minded people, as this will give you great updates and content to digest and share. Oh, and PLEASE check out LinkedIn Today. 

4. Google+.

I’ve spoken on this recently, but Google+ boasts a very content-rich community that is active and engaging. Because there are less active users, there are more meaningful interactions, and the service does a great job of simplifying how you get great content.

I find myself searching for what’s trending a lot on Google+, which lets you use the search bar at the top to discover great content from people you don’t follow (yet).

5. Facebook.

I say this tongue-in-cheek, but there are very useful ways to make Facebook an asset for your content machine. While I mostly prefer to use the site for recreational use (unless it’s for work), I can’t deny how Facebook’s massive network works well to deliver new content.

Okay, there are certainly many reasons why your news feed is filled with mundane information, but utilizing Facebook’s “list” function can allow you to filter posts from friends that do like to share interesting, useful content from the rest.

Conclusion.

Now, these are just some of the ways you can get to work on your content machine. Whatever network or platform you’re using, remember to always set time aside in your day to read and follow-up with as much content as you can. It’s a great habit, and it will no doubt grow your skills and awareness of whatever industry you commit to.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News, a list of headlines essential for any new professional, updated daily at 8am.

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5 Steps to Branding Yourself Online

Brand Yourself

If you have profiles on various social networks, then you have a personal brand. The problem is that you may not be keeping good track of this brand and how you’re perceived online.

Luckily, there are simple ways for you to start creating a more consistent presence online, rewarding you with a tighter, more influential network.

1. Craft your ideal brand. 

Before anything else, you absolutely need to have a clear idea of how you want to brand yourself (this can be broad, so don’t panic.) Simply put yourself in the shoes of someone who just stumbled upon your LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever else.

What do you want them to see? Do you want them to find you fun, energetic and engaging? Do you want people to like your writing and creativity? Do you want to come off as professional and business-oriented?

In my case, I want my identity to feature what I can do as a writer and how well I get along with others online. I go for the creative youth identity that I know I excel at.

As long as you’re realistic and honest about what you really represent, coming up with an identity game-plan can be an extremely fun exercise.

2. Update/Create all of your profiles at the same time.

Time to get started. Once you know exactly what you want your personal brand to be, it’s time to implement it across all of your channels.

If you want an online identity that sticks, you need to have a cohesive theme between your major networks. The best way to accomplish this level of consistency is to edit them all at the same time.

They don’t have to be identical (and definitely shouldn’t), but they should at least match each other in terms of language and presentation. Your “About Me” on Facebook should make sense alongside your Twitter bio, even though they will no doubt say different things.

For example, your  Facebook may say that you are a lawyer at Earth, Wind, and Fire Legal (Fresh Prince of Bel-air joke), but you LinkedIn, in contrast, says you are a legal consultant for the parent of the firm. Even worse, your Twitter could say you’re a paralegal because you haven’t updated it in a year.

Use the same language and verify that your online brand is as up-to-date as possible.

3. Leave some information out. 

This may seem counterintuitive, but a big mistake some people make with their online identity is that they talk about themselves too much. Yes, you want to inform people and make your bragging rights known, but being an open book can have negative consequences.

You don’t want people to feel like there’s nothing else they can learn about you, so try to keep an air of mystery that will open the door to future conversations.

4. Change your profile picture.

I’m a firm believer that you should have a different profile picture for the social networks you use the most. This is because each network is different, and you want to communicate separate (but equal) things about yourself across your profiles.

My goal with Facebook, for example, is to feature pictures of my family and what I like to do for fun. So, my profile picture reflects the lighthearted, family side of me. My Twitter is more of an outlet for the creative professional in me, so I usually go with minimalist pictures. LinkedIn is obviously a place for being professional, so you’ll find the suit and tie version of me on there.

See, it’s not that I’m a different person in each of these cases. If you read about me, you’ll find the same person, just a different shade. And it all ties back to one theme, my brand.

5. Create as much content as possible.

Sharing is great. I do it a lot, and I love telling others about what I find interesting. That said, creating your own content is very important as well.

I create my own graphics for this blog and I write everything you see. That’s because when I broadcast something I’ve published, I want my identity stamped on it.

Attaching yourself to your works is one of the easiest ways to communicate your identity to your network, and it leaves a lasting impression if you’re content is good enough.

And you don’t have to just blog. Take photos. Make videos. Write poetry. Do what you like to do and put it on your fridge (new social media idea, don’t steal it).

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News, a list of headlines essential for any new professional, updated daily at 8am.

5 Reasons Why Social Media Won’t Kill PR

Image Courtesy of Fourthsource.com

I’ve often heard it said that social media and public relations are merging and becoming synonymous. “The New PR” if you will.  I typically hear this either from college students or professionals speaking out of context.

Indeed, social media has become integral to public relations, and for the better, improved it. One-way-communication by means of the press release and press conference is no longer the norm. We’ve found it easier to create and sustain relationships with our constituents by means of effective control over social media outlets.

That’s the danger, though, isn’t it? Classic PR seems to be fading into irrelevancy these days, at least in the eyes of those who operate outside of the profession, especially those in advertising in marketing. Peers of mine have often regarded PR as a shell of what it used to be, and public relations professionals becoming social media managers rather than directors.

Sure, I’m a social media manager, so I get that point to a degree, but the concept of public relations being overwhelmed by social media is nonsense, and here are 5 reasons why.

5. Social Media Managers are not Publicists

Facilitating online communities is completely different from so many other aspects of PR, especially publicizing  Yes, publicists get a bad rep, but that doesn’t change how good they can be at their jobs. They are just as essential as agents, and you can’t maintain the image of a prominent businessman, politician, or celebrity without a publicist.

4. Social Media only Addresses Consumers (for the most part)

There are some exceptions to the above statement, but for the most part, social media is focused on the interests of consumers and the general public. Social media does little to foster the relationships an entity may have with  the government, investors, employees, and especially the press. For many PR pros, this is a “duh” moment, for they constantly fixate on more than just social communication.

3. Social Media can be Difficult to Measure

In many cases, social media is not as easy to prove effective to the powers that be. When it comes to ROI and actually driving sales, social media can be difficult to build a foundation on because it is reactionary communication. It functions in the same way that word-of-mouth does for advertisers. We create the message and pick the channels, but we can’t always see the fruits.

There are ways around this, and I’m not saying that social media is not beneficial (quite the opposite actually). I’m saying that we are not yet at a place where social media can be dissected comprehensibly on a chart, and most PR pros don’t want to take the risk of building their ROI around social media impressions alone.

2. The World is Bigger than Social Media (Right Now)

So many of us live in cities and towns, so we forget that it’s a big world out there. Even within the states, we have to constantly remind ourselves that not everyone flocks to the internet as their source of reference. People still read newspapers and respond better to billboards than sponsored stories. It’s how the world works.

In time, millennials like myself will rely on “outdated” concepts such as (who knows?) cell phones and commercials. Social Media won’t kill PR because not everyone in your audience is using social media. Simple right?

1. Good Social Media Needs Good PR

Ideally, social media is about transparency, effective communication, and relationship-building. For PR pros, that sounds pretty familiar to what is essential about PR. Social Media is more than just a tool of PR, it is a product of it. The idea of instant, transparent communication being out there for the whole world to see is working for many people because many people rely on good PR.

It’s not just about the product. It’s the image and how the image is presented. Without the fundamentals and structure of high quality public relations, social media is just another bulletin board at your local coffee shop. With the right tools, however, it can affect more than just a handful of coffee drinkers.

The two subjects need each other. Be sure to watch how social media evolves in the coming years, and we’ll see just how the profession of PR changes with it. I am confident that both have a bright future.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

Quick Copywriting (and Twitter) Tip

I’ve been writing a lot of google ads the past two days, which has forced me to re-evaluate my copywriting strategy. Copywriting, like tweeting, is known by many to be one of the absolute hardest forms of writing since you are trying to convey in a few words what could take paragraphs.

Of course, practice and time will surely help boost your copywriting skills, but here is a quick tip that may give you some more legs to stand on: when writing copy, write out everything you want to convey first. From there, analyze the most important details and go from there. Keep a thesaurus handy and make sure you’re using the most concise words possible. Finally, punctuate! Make sure your sentences flow smoothly and don’t use conjunctions or semi-colons that will just drag your sentence out longer.

Hope this helps!

Jon

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