On first blush, The New York Times and Buzzfeed couldn’t be any less similar. One is a flagship of ethical and investigative journalism, almost synonymous with the notion of journalistic authority itself. The other will give you 19 amazing cat pictures you can’t believe aren’t photoshopped.
But look closer and you’ll see both media giants have evolved in recent days to deliver content in a very similar and compelling way. And the take away for marketers about how these guys are changing their game will make all the difference to your content strategy.
Curation and Creation: Your readers want both
In a recent Digiday article, Ricardo Bilton writes that the Times and Buzzfeed are starting to enter a new age of content curation. Rather than simply publishing their own stuff, they are starting to see the value – or necessity – to start assembling, collecting and giving readers an editorial snapshot of other stuff that is out there.
“It’s pretty odd at this point to imagine a reader only wants stories from any one news organization,” said Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed.
The curation-meets-original content approach is an important shift from how most publishers have approached their app strategies so far.
It’s this exact topic we’ve been hearing so much about directly from our customers in recent months. Except in this case, we’re talking about marketers and how they can build better, more powerful relationships around their content marketing efforts.
Fatigue around 100% owned content experiences
- Hard to produce enough great content: Being forced to create enough great original content on a regular basis is a daunting task for the most capable of content teams.
- Lacks an authentic and complete conversation: Your audience wants to be informed and/or entertained. The more complete and fuller the content destination you can create the better. We recently spoke with a well respected company lauded for their amazing content initiatives. During a recent focus group, their audience revealed that while they love their content around relevant industry topics – it still felt lacking due to it being only their own view point.
Empowering content throughout the company
Creating thought leadership visibility
You have them listening. Now what?
Drive business results
The Internet of Things is going to change the way marketers, businesses and people interact with the world. With the rate of things being connected to the internet increasing at an exponential rate, these changes are coming sooner than you might imagine.
Here’s a round up of what we think are some of the coolest, most inspiring and craziest ways IOT will change the face of our world.
As marketers, it’s fun to imagine how we might start to take advantage of these new web based interfaces. From a smart gun, a wireless pill bottle, to the most intimate of body parts, what will the future of marketing look like with this new connected world? Let us know in the comments your bright ideas.
1. K Goal: Vagina tracker
It can already stream the internet straight to your face, vibrate around your waist when you’re slouching and track your health using only your wrist. Now, wearable technology is getting even more intimate and attempting to conquer the final frontier: the vagina.
Recently launched on Kickstarter, the KGoal Smart Kegel Trainer, produced by San Fransisco-based sexual health startup Minna Life, describes itself as a “Fitbit for your vagina,” an interactive device to guide, measure and track pelvic floor muscle exercise. It takes the form of a squeezable silicone pillow, connected to a smartphone app, that measures your “clench strength” and feeds the data back to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. It also has an internal motor for “real time vibrational biofeedback.
2. The iPhone of Guns
One of California’s largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch.
The watch’s primary purpose is not to provide accurate time, though it does. The watch makes the gun think. Electronic chips inside the gun and the watch communicate with each other. If the watch is within close reach of the gun, a light on the grip turns green. Fire away. No watch means no green light. The gun becomes a paperweight.
3. Smart Lighter to quit smoking
A new Internet-connected lighter called Quitbit will light your cigarette, but wean you off a smoking habit too.
A new Kickstarter campaign called Quitbit takes the same monitoring principles embedded into fitness trackers and helps users track and cutdown on smoking. In a nod to the name, it’s like a Fitbit for smoking.
4. Amazon Dash – home scanner
Let’s be real: Amazon isn’t going to stop until you can go your entire life without setting foot in an actual brick-and-mortar store. Now the company wants to make buying groceries and sundries from its AmazonFresh same-day delivery service even easier, and it’s doing it with a tiny little gadget called the Dash. Yes, move over Fire TV — Amazon’s newest bit of hardware is a free (for now?), WiFi-capable barcode scanner.
5. Smart Bike – GPS directions on your handle bars
While some cars these days are smart enough to drive themselves, the bike industry has remained largely untouched in terms of innovation. But a new company wants to pedal forward with what it’s calling the world’s first smart and connected bicycle.
A Kickstarter campaign for the Vanhawks Valour smart bike connects with a smartphone app and brings tech like GPS directly to the handle bars. The concept is part of a greater effort to help bikers keep their eyes on the road, especially during high-traffic commuting times.
6. Nest Protect – Love your smoke alarm
Everyone by now has heard of Nest’s smart thermostat. But their newest product, Protect, solves another problem at the home: those annoying and sometimes un-safe smoke alarms. Great design and more proof that the future of smart homes is amazing,
7. Electric Objects – smart art
There’s more art on the Internet than in every gallery and museum on Earth.
But many of these beautiful objects are trapped. They’re trapped inside of devices like our phones, our tablets, our TVs, our laptops — devices designed for distraction, living between texts, tweets, football games and emails from work.
So we wanted to make a new way to bring art from the Internet into your home.
8. Pill Bottle
AdhereTech, a New York City-based startup, released a wireless pill bottle at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show it claims alerts patients when they have to take their medication and keeps track of their usage and dosage.
The pill bottle uses lights, speakers and sensors to track how often the bottle is opened and closed, humidity and how much medication is removed in real-time. Using cellular technology, it then sends the information on to doctors, pharmacists who can monitor it.
If the medication isn’t taken on time, users receive a phone call or text message alert as a reminder.
9. The FingerReader – for visually impaired
Scientists at MIT are developing a ring-shaped device they claim can read aloud text to people with visual disabilities in real-time.
The FingerReader, worn as a ring on the index finger, has a small camera mounted on top and speech software that converts text from books, newspapers and menues into audio.
The audio device, which took three years to design, connects to a laptop or mobile phone and includes a text extraction algorithm, allowing users to read single lines or whole blocks of text when selected.
Or: A Day in the Life of a Content Curator
The idea for this post started out as a list for all the great content tools out there to help you find the stuff that you – a content curator – should be curating.
It started that way. But in a matter of minutes, I’d already dug up a list about 100 long. It was obvious this list wasn’t going to actually ever be read by anyone.
Many people claiming to be a curator, seem to think of their job as simply throwing huge lists your way. Big, unmanageable, indigestible lists… But since the whole point of content curation is to actually make people’s lives easier, to make some sense out of all the noise out there, these lists sometimes defeat the purpose, when done badly. They are simply laziness.
What I decided would be more useful is to highlight how I actually find the stuff I curate, and share that very specific, limited process with you. As a result, hopefully I’d give something tangible to chew on.
1. You do need tools, but you don’t need all the tools
As I continue this journey to figure out the best practices of content curation, I’ve stumbled across dozens of useful tools to dig up material seemingly relevant to my readers. I am sure a lot of them are great, and just as many are terrible. Unfortunately, the day is only 24 hours long, and I can’t simply spend it clicking tabs and bookmarks to all these services, hoping they’ll serve me something new.
My job after all is not just about re-sharing links. It’s about putting them together meaningfully. So even though there’s a million ways to find content and even more actual good pieces of content out there, it’s meaningless unless I actually carve out some time to make sense of it all, like I am doing right now.
So, what I suggest is you find a few services that seem to do the job, and stick with those. If they aren’t working for you, switch it up, tweak the settings, keep at it. But I highly doubt you’ll have any issues finding content. The tools are all very similar, many of them free, and they’ll all do an admirable job of what they’re supposed to do.
Personally, I rely on a few things for discovery. I have TweetDeck set up with curated twitter lists of the influencers in any given topic, for instance, this list of CMO’s for out CMOhub. And I have narrowed that one down even further by filtering for engagement – I only want to see the stuff getting retweeted.
I also have the same filters set up on key hastags, like #iOT for our hub all about marketing in the age of the internet of things, as well as this hub, our content curation best practices collection.
Finally, I’ve landed on a few good aggregation services that I have been going back to regularly. These are free and easy and serve up tons of stuff I am not finding on TweetDeck: BuzzSumo, Feedly, ContentGems. I haven’t yet picked the winner, and eventually I might pick another service. But these are great, for now.
2. Be a journalist, not just a news reader
Part of your job is reading all these articles. But an even more important aspect is to dig deeper, follow hunches, write down angles, and keep track of all these little magical thoughts that bubble up while you’re consuming the primary sources.
I use Evernote for this. Whenever an idea for a story pops up, I’ll give it a tag and start saving those pieces to Evernote. This might be a list of the people in the article, and eventually I’ll interview them to generate some new, fresh content, that you can’t find anywhere else. Or it might be a list of the companies that keep popping up in all the news articles – what are the main players in IOT? And what can I learn by following them directly, that I’d otherwise miss if I was just reading what surfaced on Mashable?
However you choose to order this, the point is to let your mind freely associate new story ideas as you’re exploring the content mountains. It’s this creativity that will inherently bring value to your readers, and it’s exactly what we need to see more of in our content curators. I think it’s probably the only way the pros ever think up something more original than mere list bait.
3. Present it meaningfully, and beautifully
It’s funny, but a majority of the focus of curation tips seems to be about where to find what you are sharing, and very little thought is spent on how to present it in a way that will be more useful to your audience. I think if you’re simply re-tweeting, or rounding up stuff on your WordPress, you’re doing your readers a disservice. Formal elements, and the way content is consumed is equally as important as what is being served up.
The reason is pretty simple, and it goes directly back to the allusion of the art curator. What would be the point of picking the very best paintings and works of art, if your gallery was impossible to walk through, or if the lights were turned off? Similarly, if you’re doing the hard work of curating content, you better make sure you provide your readers an enjoyable, cross-platform, engaging experience. This serves their enjoyment but it also leads to better conversion and higher returns on your efforts, as a marketer. Curation, after all, is often being done by brands and businesses, so it would be a shame to do all that hard work, for it not to pay off.
Obviously, I use Pressly to curate content in beautiful and engaging way. And so do many other major brands and publishers. Once I’ve rounded up my list of good articles to share, I use the boomarklet and then it’s sent right to the hub I want. From there I can customize, feature and edit that article to be even more useful and engaging on my hub.
I hope this snapshot of the day to day life of a curator helped you out. If you have any amazing services that you can’t live without, or any extra pro tips from your experience, please share in the comments.
The year is 1920 and a group of reporters at a small, virtually unknown Detroit radio station are about to make history. They’re about to conduct the world’s first ever newscast – reporting live results from the primary elections. As the station would later describe, the event would turn out to be prophetic, a sign of times to come:
In the four hours that the apparatus, set up in an out-of-the-way corner of The News Building, was hissing and whirring its message into space, few realized that a dream and a prediction had come true. The news of the world was being given forth through this invisible trumpet to the waiting crowds in the unseen market place.
I just love that quote. The language, aside from being so rich and evocative, has the tone of great importance, assured of the radio’s crucial role to come in mass communication. But it would take over thirty years for radio to realize that dream. Until then, it went through a series of twists and turns.
Mobile today is a lot like radio in the 1920s. There’s a general, optimistic feeling it possesses the keys to the future of communication and content discovery, of broadcasting, of publishing, of information. But the training wheels have only just come off, and mobile is still very young. What is mobile’s character? What will it look like in 30 years?
To understand exactly where mobile has come, and where it’s headed, it’s helpful to first take a step back to see how an older medium, radio, grew into its current role. It’s a story many in the tech industry have heard about already – a common anecdote to describe how mass media slowly shapes itself to catch up with changing technology and societies, and vice versa. But it’s worth a revisit.
How Radio Got its Voice
During the early years of news radio, nothing could have been further from revolutionary. Reporters simply read from newspapers, unaware of the magnificent potential the new medium would have to transmit instant, timely news better than print ever could. In fact it got so bad, with reporters ripping headlines from the papers, the papers had to implement a blackout on radio stations from reading their stuff on air. The ban only lasted two years.
It wasn’t until World War Two radio truly came into its own. As public thirst for immediate information grew, radio delivered the fix with on-scene reportages, interviews and the sharp, easy-to-digest syntax of the modern newscast we are all so familiar with today.
By the 1950s, radio was no longer a new medium ripping pages (literally) from the old. It was a vibrant, instant way to capture the world’s attention and feed it information. The prophecy in that quote from the ‘20’s had come true. Radio was its own force with its own characteristics and style.
So what does this have to do with mobile?
The history of radio news sheds light on the current evolution we’re seeing right now with mobile’s (gradual) upheaval of the online reading experience. Just like radio, in the early years of mobile content publishing, old habits were adopted from older media, and continue to be relied on to this day.
The early days of mobile (including today)
Much like radio, mobile content’s early days are defined by the characteristics of older media. With the explosion of the iPhone and iPad between 2009 and 2011, the App Store was the first place publishers and brands looked to snag the attention of a newly important, massive mobile audience. One way of getting their content to those eyeballs quickly was by re-purposing PDFs and calling them “apps.” Magazines, businesses, newspapers all did it: packaging up their PDF’s into an app, perhaps adding some slightly intriguing bells and whistles (html links, video pop ups, even a fake page flip animation) and that was that.
Around this time, we also saw the rise of the first mobile sites. Mobile sites became increasingly important as the battle between web and native apps started to reveal that most people prefer getting content from the web and not closed apps. But mobile sites, in the early days, were not so much borrowed from the old. They simply fell short of mobile’s potential to tell a compelling story. They reduced the content experience to a bunch of single line summaries, very little visual information and an overall ugly, slow and difficult reading experience.
Finally came a great and clever solution, responsive design, which is probably one of the most discussed mobile strategies circulating publisher boardrooms and marketing departments today. The issue again is that responsive design is simply a reshuffling of the old, in this case the desktop web, into the new.
Responsive design makes it easy to fit all your content from the web onto smaller screens, and to do so with a simple, build-it-once approach. But it doesn’t bring out the true character of reading on smartphones and tablets. It relies on navigation built for the click and scroll world (back buttons, very little swipe), it relies on constantly reloading pages, which is a bigger problem on small devices with less speed, and it doesn’t provide new, immersive advertising and engagement models that give mobile its potential to not only change the way we read, but change the way publishers and content producers grow their business.
Mobile coming into its own
In the past few years, we’ve made tremendous leaps in defining exactly what mobile can be; we’ve had our 1920’s radio moment.
The most successful, trail-blazing apps for reading content on tablets and smartphones are the aggregators, that take your content from a feed, and from social networks, organize it in a relevant way (curated content) and then serve it up to you in the very best mobile experience possible. Think of Flipboard, of Zite, or Pulse. These addictive mobile experiences are all about swipe, full screen, clean layouts, and immersion – they let you keep flipping, and discovering more and more content.
We know from Pressly data this kind of experience is not just pretty – it is much more effective. Users will spend far more time with content on small devices if they can swipe around, rather than the hunt and peck of old mobilized or desktop sites.
We’ve also witnessed another major transformation of the mobile medium; the rich web experience. With FT leading the way in 2011 as the first major publisher to deliver a native-like experience directly from the web, many saw this move as a way to shirk Apple’s hefty 30% revenue cut. But it was so much more than that. FT saw the web was the future of content distribution, not app stores. So it built an HTML5 powered app and it proved you could offer the same rich experience exalted in the app stores, directly from the browser. The years that have passed and FT’s bold move has proven to be ahead of the curve. Publishers are now moving en masse to find mobile web solution, where they know their audience is growing, and the luster of the app store is dimming.
Further, publishers have found better ways to engage their audience, and finally unlock the potential of mobile to provide a new monetization strategy. With full screen and swipe, comes the opportunity to insert full-screen ads. No longer do publishers rely on clutter, such as banners, but they can add a rich experience, while you surf content. These ads don’t interrupt from the aesthetics of mobile reading, while giving the reader potentially something enjoyable and entertaining on its own (often the full screen ads are beautiful and highly engaging, with video, animations and so on).
This new method of advertising also gives content marketers a model to improve their conversion on their content marketing properties. Instead of ads, they insert call to action screens in between articles: download this ebook, sign up for our newsletter, request information, and other forms of lead generation.
The next few years for mobile
What is effective on mobile is finally starting to become clear. Now what’s left is for mass adoption and the sharpening of the tools we already have. We know the web will be the hotbed of content distribution, we know it makes life easier for readers if all your content is a single Mobile Google search away. We know that works for publishers and marketers too. Yet a majority of publications still do not have an adequate modern mobile reading experience, one that takes advantage of all the strengths offered by the touch screen device.
We’ve also yet to uncover all the characteristics that will truly define mobile as its own force of nature. Remember, reading on these devices is so much more than just smaller screens. It’s an entirely different context: you are on the bus, in bed at home, walking in a park. How will publishers shape mobile to be more effective in these local contexts? This is certainly early days, but it seems like a natural progression for the medium.
We’ll also take strides in eliminating the jarring chasm between desktop and mobile reading. Responsive design is a step towards this, but so far, most mobile reading lives on a separate island, meanwhile desktop reading stays mostly unchanged. As mobile continues its evolution, we will see cleaner, tighter integration between small screens and big, and much more play between them. This might simply be Flipboard reading from the laptop, but it might also be “second screen” experiences, where the mobile device grows as the enhancer of non-mobile content, rather than the alternative.
The next step for publishers and marketers in mobile
Just as radio had its moment in the 1920s, the glimpse of hope for what the medium would hold, we’ve already had ours with mobile. Mobile is perennially a top priority in editorial boardrooms and marketing war rooms across the world. It’s clearly the key. In the last few years we’ve uncovered some fragments of what works on mobile. Swipe. Web. Full screen. Curation. Mobile is getting its voice.
And now, we are entering the golden age of mobile reading, this is the turning point, a time that will define mobile’s personality as a mass communications platform. The technological and social uses of mobile in will continue to evolve.
Marketers and publisher play a crucial role in shaping and adopting this future, or risk being left behind, reading those headlines over the airwaves.
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Smartphone traffic is at an all time high, and this comes with both challenges and opportunities for media companies and marketers with heavy web traffic.
As part of Google’s efforts to improve the mobile web, the search giant recently came out with some useful recommendations to avoid some serious, experience-hindering mistakes which web masters often make. The information they’ve circulated is a bit technical, but extremely useful in making sure you are treating your web visitors to the best possible reading experience.
In a recent post, they also outlined the two most common mistakes and how to fix them. The first is faulty redirects, and that’s when you send users looking for a certain desktop page, to an unrelated mobile-optimized page (for example, they are looking for your about page on an iPhone, and you send them to the mobile homepage instead). The second major mistake is smartphone-only errors, which is when you show an error page to someone just because they are on a mobile device, though the page actually exists. Google implores that it’s always better to show them a non-optimized page, if you don’t have one, than to send them to an error page.
As the mobile revolution continues to grow, knowing these trick and best practices from Google will be crucial in ensuring your web traffic is as strong as possible. Take a look at the full article, here.
We’re always on the lookout for new trends in mobile marketing, and one of the latest examples of this is with Vine, the popular video sharing app. Back in May, we had a guest post at the Content Marketing Institute, which described how Vine had broken Hollywood history with the first ever six-second movie trailer for The Wolverine.
Now it seems mini-movie trailers on Vine are a full-blow trend, according to AdWeek.
“The limitations of six seconds can actually lift the storytelling,” explained Gabrielle Kessler, accounts manager for Something Massive, which manages social media for Regal. “You get to home in on those emotionally engaging moments that both marketers and filmmakers are after,” she said. “We are really encouraged with the engagement the app is producing so far.”
Want to see how marketers are using Vine? See the full article here.
We’ve been hard at work since launching in March to make Pressly an even more powerful way for you to create and publish the world’s most immersive mobile reading experiences. With an updated interface, an incredible analytics widget, improved social sharing and even a seamless desktop reading mode, Pressly is proud to unveil our latest upgrades.
Cleaner, more beautiful dashboard design, making Pressly more intuitive than ever
We have re-organized and refined the look and feel of our dashboard to make it easier to navigate and build your apps as intuitively as possible. From a cleaner, flatter look, right down to unifying the settings pane to give you one spot to control everything.
An all new analytics section
Pressly now pulls together your user behaviour into a beautiful, visual analytics section to give you quick and customizable reports on how your users are interacting with your content. Subscribe to check it out!
Enhanced social sharing, with Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn
We’ve added a new social sharing box on all Pressly properties, so your readers can now share your content to their Pinterest, G+ and LinkedIn accounts, as well as Twitter and Facebook, all in one tap.
Desktop reading mode!
This is especially useful if you’re using Pressly to create a stand-alone, brand new property. Now when your readers visit a Pressly URL from a desktop computer, they will still be given a beautiful, elegant reading experience. No more sending them to an error page.
You can now add a cover page to your Pressly properties. This is the first page your visitors will see; think of it as the front page of a magazine. It’s an awesome way to highlight your brand and it also gives you an exciting new sponsorship opportunity.
Easy new way to place your ads, just cut-and-paste ad tags
In addition to specifying a URL pointing to your ad unit, you now have the ability to copy and paste your ad tags right into the Pressly dashboard.
New Ad formats for smartphone and tablet
We’ve also enabled new, larger ad formats for smartphone, including a full-screen interstitial.
Soundcloud and Brightcove content support
We’ve also added more content formats to our supported list, including audio streams from Soundcloud and the enterprise video service Brightcove. (For custom Brightcove integrations or help, please get in touch.)
And much more, including:
Windows Phone 8 and Surface support, ability to customize a Bookmark icon for homescreen, and the ability to put 3 external links in navigation bar.
What new features would you like to see? Leave a comment and let us know