Friday #content reads 19.5.2017

Howdy! 🔥  Apologies for the radio silence but with the upcoming UK Election and preparing for Capital’s Summertime Ball, it’s just been a very busy time.🔥🔥🔥  Here’s some of my top reads from the last few weeks. Enjoy!🔥🔥🔥🔥  PS, I’ve just discovered how to add fire emojis to WordPress! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

As we all know, linear TV is really challenged at the moment, but these graphs showing how audiences dwindle over time for top US TV shows were pretty jaw-dropping. As Josef Adalian and Jeni Zhen write:

“We’ve been trained to understand that if we fall behind on several episodes of a show, we can always catch up later on streaming. Binge-watching an entire season is, for many, a better experience than watching week-to-week. The enormous sums Netflix and Hulu are paying to stream shows such as This Is Us underlines just how much value remains in network-TV fare. Sure, as measured by Nielsen, Empire is drawing half as many viewers as it did at its peak a couple years back. Some of those early adopters of the series have no doubt given up on the sudser altogether, but odds are many of those viewers are now simply watching in ways not captured by traditional metrics. (Another “encouraging” sign for the health of broadcast TV: Most big cable comedies and dramas are down, too — even the good ones.) None of this makes the double-digit declines shown below any less depressing for executives. Ratings declines result in fewer overall ad dollars, period. While networks are proving adept at opening up new revenue streams, they’d much rather their Nielsen numbers were going up.”

Elsewhere, I really liked the way the social team at Huffington Post are using their editors to front their coverage of news and entertainment on social. Sounds like a win-win to me.

I thought this article looking at why Alt-Right messages and memes during the French election didn’t work was interesting. Also, kinda reassuring that civilisation can’t be entirely derailed by just anyone with a good knowledge of Photoshop and Google Docs. Well, for now.

“There’s a big cultural gap that these groups have to jump over to expand their message,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank, who has studied the far right’s recent efforts in France. “The language and iconography of the alt-right is pretty specific. Most of it just isn’t going to translate well.”

I’m sure you’ve seen this video looking at texting and the internet in film. Just brilliant.

As an avid long-distance runner there’s nothing better than escaping the city for the country, negotiating numerous maps, losing your GPS signal and having to deal with the local farm dogs. Thank goodness for the National Trust Open Data site which launched recently – I now know where I’m bloody going!

Lastly, shameless plug, have you seen our fantastic new Capital Xtra responsive website? 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Content Strategy Recommendations for Charities and other Nonprofits

content strategy session for charities
I was recently asked to deliver a content strategy workshop for a gathering of small charities to help them ‘Create Amazing Content’ with limited resource. Building the workshop required quite a bit of research and was a fantastic opportunity to explore some of the challenges faced by the sector in, not only creating effective websites, but also persuading audiences to take a specific action. I thought I’d highlight some of the articles I’d read to build the workshop – there really is some brilliant work being done out there by various charity digital teams. I salute you all.
 
My research into the charity sector soon became a study of the art of persuasion, how we can use content to influence and activate a passive audience. There are loads of great articles online about persuasion but I found the article by CopyBlogger and Hillary Skeffington of particular interest.
 
I also found the notion of demonstrating impact pretty central to your purpose as a charity. This might sound obvious, but I found many charity websites ‘explained the need’ (i.e. why you should donate) but then forgot to spell out the impact they were making. I must then absolutely recommend this article by Paull Young from Charity:Water. Read the article and then explore their website – loads of great examples of best practice there.
 
Staying with Charity:Water there was also this article looking at how Charity:Water value trust – an important commodity in our world of FAKE NEWS. 
 
Lastly, here’s some useful resources for any nonprofit organisation looking to make improvements to their digital offering. From SEO to various case studies, I hope these help anyone researching into this sector.
 

So there you have it, a brief skim through some of the charity content strategy articles I found over the past few weeks. Let me know if you have other resources you’d like to share in the comments below!

Talking About LBC, Opinion and Content Experimentation

I’m pleased to say this year we’ve been invited by those wonderful folk at Newsrewired to talk about audio ‘shareability’. I always love attending this event, it’s a great chance to network and gauge what we’re generally thinking about as Journalists across a whole range of topics.

In the podcast I talk about why opinion is central to LBC and how we format choice moments to give them their best viral potential.

I look forward to seeing everyone in July.

Friday #content reads 24.3.2017

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite articles from the week:

Chris Sutcliffe wrote an interesting piece looking at how the economics driving  journalism influences editorial quality:

“From an outsider’s perspective, it looks as though the UK news media didn’t have a problem with ‘fake news’ until they lost their monopoly on it. They benefited from the system that rewards the creation of heavily partisan, shareable articles by feeding the confirmation bias of their audiences. That was the case before the internet started disrupting their business models, too, but now less truthful news who don’t even pay lip service to truth had proved themselves to be just as adept at abusing that digital advertising paradigm.”

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Basically, Depeche Mode Is My Spirit Animal

Back in the day I used to be the ultimate Depeche Mode fan. I spent most of my teenage years hunting down numerous rare vinyl remixes, paying extortionate amounts of money for obscure bootleg recordings and generally annoying mates by playing tracks  that didn’t fit in with our previously established repertoire of Guns and Roses and Ozzy Osbourne. I was basically THAT kid in the corner listening to the same track on repeat and not talking to anyone. And it was great.

Then it all went a bit pear-shaped.

One day, I met one of the band members at a Nitzer Ebb gig and they got a bit peeved when asked for an autograph. No big deal, we all need our space. But shortly after, I had another ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’ moment at one of their album launch listening parties and, let’s just say, it was a complete disaster as one of them was completely wasted.  Again, no big deal, but after that I sort of walked away and never listened to them again.

Well, almost. After a brief spat and after listening to their new album ‘Spirit’ I’m glad say we’re BFFs again. Their new political focus suites them with my top tracks being ‘Scum’ and ‘So Much Love’. A timely release.

To celebrate I thought I’d dig up some of my favourite Mode moments. Enjoy the self-indulgence.

Observe the dance moves:

Observe the hair:

Observe one of the best acid basslines in alt-pop history:
;

Observe one of the best producers of all-time talking about one of the best acid basslines in alt-pop history:

Observe this photo:

Observe this collection of vinyl. Observe their smooth, plastic sleeves. OBSERVE!

 

Observe the use of light and smoke in this video whilst also observing one of the best synth melodies in synth melody history:

This

Also, THIS:

And this. Always this.

and, lastly: this, this, this:

Friday #content reads 3.3.2017

Here’s a selection of my favourite articles from the week that was…

Axois published a great feature looking at The recent explosion of right-wing news sites and why this has occurred:

“Why it matters: According to experts, digital technology has made it easier to exploit the political divisions that have always existed. Sarah Sobieraj, associate professor of Sociology at Tufts University, told CNN there has been an increase in political polarization in the U.S., but not nearly enough to account for this development. “The technological, regulatory, and media space has shifted into one in which this is profitable, and profit is the driving force.”

How they profit: Google and Facebook’s algorithmically-driven news distribution platforms have created an environment in which:

  • a) partisan news sites can easily reach fringe audiences, and
  • b) news sites are financially incentivized to tilt one way or another.

Facebook, in particular, algorithmically favors content that appeals to user bias and interest. According to comScore Vice President Andrew Lipsman, to elicit high engagement and repeat visitation, “sites must usually speak to a very specific audience.” Although this limits the appeal to a broader readership, it creates a sustained and engaged audience that appeals to advertisers.”

Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman looked at this in more detail by examining two US news websites with conflicting political views but owned by the same publisher. That’s not itself an issue, but when you see how similar these stories are (apart from tone and political bias) you can understand why trust in the media is at a current low.

“Liberal Society and Conservative 101 are among the growing number of so-called hyperpartisan websites and associated Facebook pages that have sprung up in recent years, and that attracted significant traffic during the US election. A previous BuzzFeed News analysis of content published by conservative and liberal hyperpartisan sites found they reap massive engagement on Facebook with aggressively partisan stories and memes that frequently demonize the other side’s point of view, often at the expense of facts.

Jonathan Albright, a professor at Elon University, published a detailed analysis of the hyperpartisan and fake news ecosystem. Given the money at stake, he told BuzzFeed News he’s not surprised some of the same people operate both liberal and conservative sites as a way to “run up their metrics or advertising revenue.”

“One of the problems that is a little overlooked is that it’s not one side versus the other — there are people joining in that are really playing certain types of political [views] against each other,” Albright said.

And all it takes to turn a liberal partisan story into a conservative one is to literally change a few words.”

Joseph Bernstein wrote a great feature on YouTube’s role in the spread of misinformation. Basically, YouTube needs to do a lot more promoting ‘good’ news over ‘bad’:

“YouTube does “demonitize” videos that it deems “not advertiser-friendly,” and last week, following a report in the Wall Street Journal that Disney had nixed a sponsorship deal with the YouTube superstar PewDiePie over anti-Semitic content in his videos, YouTube pulled his channel from its premium ad network. But such steps have tended to follow public pressure and have only affected extremely famous YouTubers. And it’s not like PewDiePie will go hungry; he can still run ads on his videos, which regularly do millions of views.

Ultimately, the platform may be so huge as to be ungovernable: Users upload 400 hours of video to YouTube every minute. One possibility is drawing a firmer line between content the company officially designates as news and everything else; YouTube has a dedicated News vertical that pulls in videos from publishers approved by Google News.”

Elsewhere, I was really inspired by James Tyner’s recent work looking at how young audiences think about online newspaper design and content. Some of the feedback included:

“I don’t find it super appealing all the time to sit down and read a huge article online, but you don’t get all the nuance from just a breaking news headline on Twitter. I wish there was some medium between the two.”

“I don’t like the news stories that are basically slideshows in the format of an Instagram video or something that is 30 seconds long and plays 5,000,000 times on Facebook. I feel like it just leaves out a lot of details and I almost instantly don’t trust those as much as a full news story I read.”

“I always fall for the clickbait, every time.”

That last point is particularly important for younger audiences – the simply won’t put up anymore with your clickbait. You see this with older audiences too now, where commenters bond together to reveal the point of the article, saving you that click.

I also wondered if the students had read Axios as part of this research. They seem to be doing a good job in creating small ‘snackable’ updates around quite complex topics. After some initial reservations about their approach, I do think they are onto something. BUT, if you aren’t a fan of their site, or this kind of editorial strategy, you may still be interested in their newsletter for all its delicious White House gossip.

And lastly, next week one of the best UK synth bands that’s ever been release their new album. I’m currently feeling very conflicted about this – and next week I’m going to tell you why.

Until then.