“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.


Quality work – why I constantly assess our agency model

On my mind: How to describe team members at our content marketing agency. That’s partly because we’re preparing a new website – nothing radical, just something every company does. But it’s also because of an article from a partner at a VC firm.

The founding general partner at Eniac Ventures talks about team slides in decks that companies use when they’re seeking seed-stage investment. Several things caught my eye, as they relate to Collective Content (although we’re not looking for investors). Number five on his list is “If you have shared history, make that very clear” – so we’ll be doing that, for example.

Our core team averages about 20 years working with B2B content, as writers and editors. That’s across a mixture of agencies, such as PR and content marketing, and working for B2B companies. But mostly we’ve all worked in journalism (another way we’re different from other agencies). Even our wider roster of part-time specialist writers and designers tends towards the higher end of experience.

This is in contrast to agencies where a team of junior writers often means lower prices, along with a we-can-turn-our-hands-to-any-content approach.


Process affects

How does all this affect the way we work with clients? There’s one obvious way and it goes like this: Collective Content works to a four-step process for much content – a white paper or e-book, say. Other agencies, often where content is produced by a faceless ‘pool’ of writers (have you heard about our ‘farm fresh’ content theory?) will feed content back into a cycle of edits and other amends numerous times.

This happens because each stage isn’t as well planned, and because their model is based on cheaper, less experienced writers who iterate again and again. I don’t want to mention Shakespeare’s monkeys. But I just did.


The difference

The results – to be honest – can be the same. In one model (ours), a group of experienced writers and editors takes fewer stages to get the right outcome. In the latter model, where a larger group takes several more rounds of work but at a lower per-employee cost, the overall price tag to a client is similar.

Clients don’t necessarily have a preference. They just want a good result.

But I prefer doing things thoroughly at each stage, with the highest-quality people and fewer stages, to keep everyone’s blood pressure at a healthier level.

There is always a trade-off across speed, quality and price. Focusing on quality doesn’t necessarily make you slower – but it can maintain project sanity.


Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent


Read Further

Content marketing trends. #1 Gifographics

What are the latest trends and tactics used in content marketing? What’s catching on as a way to provide additional value to clients?

In the first of a series, we look at one of the content formats gaining momentum today: ‘gifographics’, also known as ‘infoGIFs’.

Essentially a mash-up of infographics with an element of animation in GIF form, gifographics can add a new dimension to existing content or provide a way for you to diversify the content you produce. They’re also effective for boosting SEO rankings, better engaging target audiences and driving social sharing.

The best infographics distil complex information into more digestible parts through great visual design. Brands are now looking to expand what infographics can do through animation.

The US-based Content Marketing Institute says Jeca Martinez’s 2012 animated infographic ‘So You Want to Make a Short Animation’ was a defining moment. But gifographics didn’t really take off as a major marketing tool until a couple of years ago, when the huge popularity of infographics prompted creatives to start experimenting with animation.

There are certainly pros and cons to gifographics. They get the message across quickly as they don’t require lengthy explanation. They also make numbers more engaging than static infographics, leave a strong impression due to their relative rarity, and aren’t as difficult to produce as you might think.

Drawbacks include being (slightly) more expensive to produce than static infographics, being harder to get right for SEO, and taking longer to load. In addition, gifographics are a bit daunting for marketers who still have trouble getting static infographics right.

But these concerns shouldn’t put you off: SEO optimisation provider Quicksprout reported this infographic on colours received 23,264 visits (as well as more than 800 Facebook likes and 600 tweets) within three days of going live. In comparison, this excellent infographic on how engines work saw the website receive 350,000 visitors in 30 days.

Of course, there are more sophisticated and interactive infographics – such as this one created for The New York Times to chart the huge number of characters in ‘Game of Thrones’.  But, as a starting point to make infographics that bit more engaging without breaking the bank, gifographics fit the bill.

Here are a few more examples to get you inspired:

Cheetah gifographic

Baby gifographic

‘How speakers make sound’ gifographic

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Read Further

Copy-wise: Don’t assume your English is the same as your audience’s

english_and_american_boxesEnglish might be the go-to language choice when writing for an online, international audience. But what kind of English do you use?

There’s British English, Canadian English, Australian English and US English (just plain ‘American’ to some), not to mention other variants from countries where English is widely spoken, though not the native language. And then there’s something called ‘International English’ or ‘World English’ (or even ‘Globish’), which is a simplified version of the language designed to avoid slang and regional idioms.

Jean-Paul Nerriere, a native Frenchman and retired IBM executive who came up with the ‘Globish’ concept, said the idea was born when he realised native speakers of other languages who also spoke English for international business used something that was “not English, but something vaguely like it”. And that type of not-quite-English, he found, was far more clear than typical British or American English.

“If you can communicate efficiently with limited, simple language you save time, avoid misinterpretation and you don’t have errors in communication,” Nerriere recently told the BBC.

In fact, it might seem odd, but – as English has become the lingua franca for online communication, international business, science, pop culture and other areas of our lives – native Engish speakers who don’t choose their words carefully can find themselves at a disadvantage in global conversations.

The BBC article, for example, began with the story of a major project failure that cost a multinational firm hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a poor word choice in an email from a native English-speaking employee to a non-native-English-speaking colleague.

“It all traced back to this one word,” said a communications trainer named Chia Suan Chong. “Things spiralled out of control because both parties were thinking the opposite.”

As US media critic Jay Rosen said in an interview with Salon: “You have to speak the language of the people you’re trying to inform.” While Rosen was speaking about the responsibility of journalists in US presidential election coverage, he added that reporters in general have “a positive duty to enlighten us with views from beyond our shores”.

The flip side, I could add, is also true in an even broader sense of communication: As writers, we have a duty to consider the views, perceptions, understanding and experiences of our readers, whether they’re native English speakers or not. That requires us to choose our words carefully when writing for an online, international audience to make sure our messages are conveyed as clearly as possible.

Read Further

Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826