Posts

Giving people control of words

What happens when you put 1-metre high movable foam letters in a large open area? People will do what they want and take their own meaning from them.

Krakow, Poland was named UNESCO City of Literature on 21 October 2013. On 25 October they placed these metre-high letters originally spelling out Krakow Miasto Literatury UNESCO (Krakow, a UNESCO City of Literature), were put up in the Market Square on 25 October 2013. This is what happened.

Night of 25 October – Letters nicely packaged to spell Krakow.Giant letters spelling KRAKOW bound together by tape.

 

Morning of 26 October, a newly-married couple getting wedding photos taken pose in front of some letters – even inverting one to spell L-O-V-E.

 

The letters from a distance in the main square in Krakow.

 

People moving the letters around, in order to take their photos behind the words or letters that mean something to them.

 

And finally, when you put people in control you never know what they’re going to do.

Moral of the story – don’t give people control of letters or words without instruction!

And remember you’ll have to clean up the mess – the last photo is of the letters on the night of 26 October, no longer in the tidy order they had been.

* edit – I’ve been asked to clarify that the wording A-R-S-E is inevitable when there are Father Ted fans on the loose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who do you write for?

Ask a journalist who do they write for and they’ll probably ream off a list of magazines or newspaper.

Ask a web copywriter who they write for and they may list of a load of clients. But really when you’re asking that of a web copywriter that’s not necessarily the answer you’re seeking. The first on their list should be the reader. Of course you do some writing for the client and of course if you’re including keywords and key phrases in the text to help with SEO, well you’re writing for the search engines and their algorithms and systems.

Dealing with inadequate content

Some people to seem to think that a Google patent in relation to ‘inadequate content’ means that keyword stuffed, uninteresting and useless content will be filtered out of results. That’s great for search engine users so – they’ll probably get the useful information they came to the internet for in the first place. It’s a great theory – but there are other things at play…

According to the Financial Times “Google obtained a patent this year for a system that would help it identify “inadequate content” on the web, based on comparisons of what people search for and what they find.” This information could be sold to online publishers or given away.

The SEO by the Sea blog raises the question as to whether people would start writing content on areas because Google suggests there’s a lack of content on that topic? He also says that sometimes people blame the search engine as opposed to content creators when they get search engine results they aren’t happy with.  He adds: “It’s possible that there may be information on that query or topic that isn’t in a very search engine friendly format, which couldn’t be indexed by the search engine. It’s also possible that there just aren’t very many quality pages that might provide results on those topics.”

Referencing the Financial Times article on TechCentral.ie they’re saying “If true this could lead to a paradigm shift in how companies handle copywriting to become more reader- over system-oriented.”

So how ready are you for whatever Google is going to next throw at us? Do you have quality content? Do you think it matters? Are you writing for the reader?

Overwriting and knowing when to stop

A few tips on making your content more shareable

Just look at the headline above. It’s neither here nor there. The word shareable is all on its own on the second “deck” of the H1 headline.

Now take out today’s paper or any newspaper and you’ll see that in all likelihood that there are no lone words on second or third decks of headlines. They tend to be filled out across one or a few decks and tightly written to fill the space (with a little help from layout programmes such as InDesign or Quark to increase or decrease the space between letters/words very subtly).

If you’re putting any sort of a heading, sub-heading etc on your website, blog or email newsletter, think about how it many characters as opposed to words will fit across either one or two lines before writing. It’ll look tidier. *

Fitting concise messages into Twitter

A handy way of practicing writing within a confined amount of characters is by using Twitter. 140 characters. Wow, that’s short you may think, if you’re not a regular Twitter user. But if your message is something other people might like to share by retweeting (RT) it, you may need to consider writing a 100 to 120 character tweet.

This morning I saw a tweet from a Bus Eireann twitter account which I thought would be worthwhile retweeting for another account I manage @housemates. I prefer manual retweeting, where you can edit the tweet or add a comment after it. So, in Hootsuite, the Twitter programme I use a lot of the time, I hit Re-Tweet and I saw the message was 156 characters long – 16 too many - because it included “RT: @buseireanndeals: ” Including spaces, that’s 22 extra characters to RT something from @buseireanndeals manually. I didn’t RT it. I didn’t want to go to the bother of editing it. Other days I may have, not today. At least not yet.

If you want your tweets to be more shareable and retweetable then you have to take into account the number of characters in your usernname and the space taken up by the other stuff. The other stuff, to save you counting, comes to 7 characters. If I am tweeting from @elainelarkin I know that anything I think could be retweeted should come to 140 characters minus 7 characters (the other stuff) minus 12 characters (username) = 121 characters. Make it short enough and you make it shareable.

*Disclaimer: Sometimes we’re in a rush too and to prove we’re human and not robot, there have been occasions where we’ve left one word hanging on its own on the second deck of headline in previous blog posts.