Written by Nick Kellet
In today’s digital world of work, all of us are content consumers and producers. Our personal brands are defined by the thousands of ways we express our preferences and communicate our personal values. Our choices become us.
This is the power of social media in the age of self-expression. We can be anything we choose. We’re defined both by our inputs and outputs:
• We are what we create.
• We are what we consume.
• We are what we share.
What’s more, our experiences with content reveal how we learn, across multiple dimensions:
• What we know and aspire to know;
• What we like and dislike;
• What sources of information we trust;
• Who we know and want to know.
It’s useful to see how, why and where we share ideas, because this helps us understand the social learning process. I’m particularly fascinated by this “social” side of learning, because my company (Listly) exists to help others easily find, organize and share meaningful information on the web.
Let’s Look Closer at Digital Content
Recently I analyzed popular content networks like YouTube and Slideshare — comparing them to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I concluded that both types of content sources have their own unique advantages. (For details, see my posts about Content Networks and Social Networks.) I also concluded that there are 6 key types of “sharable” digital content: Video, Audio, Slides, Lists, Graphics and Documents.
We can freely create and embed these types of content in blog posts. We can also share them directly with others on social media and through private communication channels. It’s now easy to track and measure activities involving any of these content types, so we can understand what works best in various scenarios. The metrics also help us decide which content is worth consuming.
I took the analysis one step further and devised a quick way to perform a blog content audit. This enables us to generate a “snapshot” of any blog’s content mix, and compare that profile with others. The results appear in a customized “trading card” for each blog.
This initiative began by focusing on 22 top blogs, but because we’ve received such a strong response, we’re now expanding that scope and deepening our analysis.
Sample Blog Analysis: TalentCulture
To illustrate how the process works, let me explain how I audited TalentCulture.com. I reviewed the site’s most recent 25 posts, and simply tagged posts that include videos, slides and other content elements. If a post contains more than one type of embedded media, all the content elements are counted. Here are the results, in our “trading card” format:
So what does this all mean? Relative to other blogs we’ve analyzed, TalentCulture very frequently features lists, with videos as a secondary form of content. Audio, slides and graphic content play a much less prominent role, compared to benchmark sites.
What is the perfect mix of “sharable” content elements? That’s a hard question to answer, because each blog serves a different audience. However, here are results from 70+ blogs analyzed thus far:
Here are some recommendations worth noting, based on our findings to-date:
1) Consider “mixed media” a strength. There’s clearly a trend toward posts that include multiple content types.
2) Include slides and video where possible/applicable. (Don’t just embed your own content — shine a light on the work of others.)
3) Transform existing content into other forms of media, when appropriate. (For example, turn a blog post into a slidedeck or a video.)
4) Make sure you integrate some audio content — whether it’s a podcast or simply a recording of an author reading post content aloud.
5) Lists are the most frequently used form of content. Blog posts that include a list in the title are usually popular, simply because they imply that the content will be easy to skim.
6) Include “Pin-friendly” images, with meme-worthy quotes in your posts. This lends itself to sharing — images with text are much more meaningful than isolated images without written context.
7) Use embedded content to break-up your copy visually. This makes your body copy more approachable and easier for visitors to digest.
8) Consider performing a similar content audit of blogs from competitors or from thought leaders who have creative blogs that your admire.
9) Be aware of your content mix, and follow a weekly or monthly format that repeats themes. This makes it easy to manage your mix.
In summary: You are a reflection of not only what you write, but also of the content that you include in your digital space. Aim to help people think of your content as fun and easy to consume. It will create a more inviting experience for visitors, and will add a more authentic human personality to your web presence and your brand image.
(Editor’s Note: To request a content audit of your blog, “like” Nick’s “Top Content” post at Slideshare and add your URL in the “comments” area of that post. We look forward to hearing about your score!)
(Author Profile: Nick Kellet is co-founder of social curation platform Listly. He believes that effective curation is as much about listening and engaging as it is about publishing and the tools themselves. A serial innovator who loves to jump domains from board games to business intelligence, Nick also believes that passion in the company of friends and community is an unstoppable force.