About Carl

Carl is the owner and founder of Carl Potts designs his interests include web design, MMO gaming, history, typography, old school dance music (especially acid house) he is currently trying to learn Russian

Think Content strategy is only for large agencies?Think again!

Content Strategy

Image credits Flickr:pshutterbug: It’s about rules and strategy


I know its one of those buzz phrases which is chucked around all over the web, but this week I want to examine content strategy, what it is and why its important? If you are to maintain any sort of web presence, your content strategy needs to be considered, a website would certainly qualify for this. Firstly we need to examine what exactly is content strategy?

What is content strategy?

The Usability.gov website offers a concise definition of content strategy ‘The goal of content strategy is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content’ (usability.gov)

The Content Strategy Consortium define Content Strategy thus

Content strategy is the practise of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” (quoted from Content Strategy at Work)

In her book Content strategy for the web Kristina Halvorson offers the following definition of content strategy as

“how you’re going to use content to meet your business (or project) goals and satisfy your users’ needs.”
Rahel Baillie’s definition adds a bit more substance as to exactly what a content strategy is

Content strategy deals with the planning aspects of managing content throughout its lifecycle, and includes aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modelling, and influences the development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, and sunsetting of content, including governance.Rahel Baillie:Content Strategy: Connecting the Dots Between Business, Brand, and Benefits(2012)

Why is content strategy important?

The keywords for me are in the Content strategy consortium definition ‘useful, usable content’ rather than waste time, money and resources creating poor quality content which is not fit for purpose, A content strategy enables you to set the goals for your content marketing and realistic viable plans for producing the content.

Does a small business need to bother with things like content strategy?

Emphatically YES! Content strategy is not something that need only concern large outfits and agencies, resources are often tight in SMEs,I especially find time to be the most pressing constraint, a content strategy enables time and resources to be efficiently allocated

Benefits of a content strategy

Content strategy offers benefits in addition to planning and resources, improving the overall quality of website content by ensuring that content is useful and cohesive, so no poor quality content slips through the net, this can be verified by content audits which I examined last week, as content maintenance is part of a content strategy there’s no excuse for inferior quality content being present

Parting thoughts

Content strategy is not something which need only concern large companies and agencies, it prevents content being developed in a haphazard manner and ensures content is properly planned with resources being allocated accordingly with priorities being planned which is very relevant given the pivotal role of website content in search engine rankings and performance something which many small businesses take very seriously indeed, you cannot afford to waste time and money developing content which is not fit for purpose. In conclusion content strategy adds to a more cohesive use of content, better quality content will make a good impression on website visitors. Useful content, which answers their questions, can only benefit their impression of your company.
Personally I feel that Margot Blumstein’s definition of content strategy sums up the aims of content strategy perfectly in a succinct manner

How do you make smart choices to ensure the content types, tone, and media in an experience support that experience in a way that’s appropriate to the brand and useful to its audience?Margot Bloomstein: content strategy at work(2012)

it is imperative that content serves the needs of your audience, otherwise it is useless.

Bibliography/Further reading

  1. Content Strategy Basics Usability.gov
  2. content strategy at work, Margot Bloomstein (2012)
  3. Content Strategy for the web(voices that matter),Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach (2012)
  4. 10 Definitions of Content strategy Busolati.com
By |November 20th, 2015|Content|0 Comments

Content Audits, how you can get started on the right track

Content Audits

Content auditing may not be the most exciting part of your content program this doesn’t detract from its importance. Knowing exactly what content your website contains allows resources to be allocated effectively, in addition to this it enables the quality of your website content to be analysed and adjusted accordingly giving you the opportunity to focus on the areas which require improvement. Content expert Kristina Halvorson suggests a number of benefits offered by auditing a website’s content such as

  • Help you to scope and budget for a content project
  • Give you a clear understanding of what you have and where it lives, even if only to being thinking about maintenance or content removal
  • Serve as a reference for source (or existing) content during content development, making it a highly efficient tool for writers and other content creators to keep track of what they have to work with

Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach: Content Strategy for the web(2012)

Moz.com suggest further advantages which are detailed below, the difference in the advantages is due to the different focus of Ms Halvorson who is a content strategist and Moz.com which is a SEO based website and service.

  • Determine the most effective way to escape a Panda penalty
  • Determine which pages need copywriting / editing
  • Determine which pages need to be updated and made more current, and prioritize them
  • Determine which pages should be consolidated due to overlapping topics
  • Determine which pages should be pruned off the site, and what the approach to pruning should be
  • Prioritize content based on a variety of metrics (e.g. visits, conversions, PA, copyscape risk score…)
  • Find content gap opportunities to drive content ideation and editorial calendars
  • Determine which pages are ranking for which keywords
  • Determine which pages “should” be ranking for which keywords
  • Find the strongest pages on a domain and develop a strategy to leverage them
  • Uncover content marketing opportunities
  • Auditing and creating an inventory of content assets when buying/selling a website
  • Understanding the content assets of a new client (i.e. what you have to work with)

Different Types of audit

Halvorson identifies a range of different audits some of which have a complementary role to play in the detailed auditing of your website’s content. These are as follows:

Quantitative Audit

Quantitative content inventories are a comprehensive top to bottom records of all the content in your website. Automation has a role to play in the creation of Content Inventories, as this could be a very long winded process otherwise, a quantitative audit is used to get an idea of what content is present on your website determining whether it is fit for purpose is the role of the other type of audit, the qualitative audit.

Qualitative audit

Qualitative audits are used to examine the quality of your website content, is it good enough to use or will further effort be required to bring it upto scratch? The Qualitative audit will highlight content which requires removing from the website. This should be part of your on-going content maintenance efforts.

Parting thoughts

I’ve already started auditing the content of this website and the initial quantitative audits have highlighted relatively minor issues (both of which are now rectified), as a website evolves its easy for content to fall out of date or by the wayside, I’m confident the qualitative phase will highlight content which doesn’t make the grade, My intention is replicate the 4 grades of content which moz.com use when reviewing their content which are “Keep As-Is”, “Remove”, “Improve”, or “Consolidate”, this will enable the quality of content to be maintained and where necessary improved. Furthermore the content audit is the starting point of developing a cohesive and realistic content strategy which is what I will be examining with next weeks post.

Bibliography/Further Reading

  1. Content Strategy for the Web (Voices That Matter):Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach New Riders 2012
  2. How to do a content audit moz.com
  3. Qualitative or quantitative: which one do you need? stickycontent.com
By |November 13th, 2015|Content, SEO|0 Comments

Effectively implement your content strategy with the Content Lifecycle

Anne Rockley’s Content Lifecycle: original vector courtesy Designed by Freepik


This week’s post will introduce a concept which relates to how content is utilised on your website that of the content lifecycle. The Content Lifecycle ensures that content is created in an organised and predictable fashion. Content Expert Anne Rockley suggests that

‘Content moves through various phases of development such as creation, review, management and delivery’Anne Rockley: Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy’(2002)

Content Lifecycle and Content Strategy

Content Lifecycle is not the same as Content Strategy, although they are related. Content strategy has some influence on the Content Lifecycle. Content strategy maps the direction; the Content lifecycle provides a map for getting where your content needs to go. A lifecycle helps to maximise ROI from your companies content.

Benefits of a Content Lifecycle

Having a defined content lifecycle helps to bring a degree of organisation to your companies content efforts, essential if resources are to be allocated efficiently, ensuring that content is supported to borrow a metaphor ‘from cradle to grave’.

There are a number of different content lifecycles. Rather than go through them all which would be pretty tedious, I’ll examine two of the more established lifecycles that proposed by Anne Rockley and the lifecyle proposed by Erin Scime
Erin Scime Lifecycle

Erin Scime’s Content Lifecycle: original artwork courtesy http://www.dopedata.com/

Erine Scime Lifecycle

Erine Scime’s Lifecycle consists of 5 major stages these are as follows

  • Audit and Analysis: Content stakeholder interviews, competitive analysis, objective analysis and evaluation of the content environment (site, partner content, sister, parent sites)
  • Strategy: Determine topical ownership areas, taxonomy, process/ workflow for content production, sourcing plan, voice and brand definition
  • Plan: Staffing recommendations, content management system customization, metadata plan, communications plan, migration plan
  • Create: Writing content, asset production, governance model, search engine optimization, quality assurance
  • Maintain: Plan for periodic auditing, advise the client, determine targets for success measures.

Anne Rockley Lifecycle

In Contrast Anne Rockley’s content lifecycle, which is detailed in her book ‘Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy’(2002)

Consists of 4 stages although she suggests there may be some fluidity with regards to naming of the phases and the phases she identifies may be known by different names elsewhere. The four phases Rockley identifies are as follows:

  • Create
  • Review
  • Manage
  • Deliver

    Rockley’s book and lifecycle are geared more towards large organisations and for that reason I believe Erine Scime’s lifecycle is more appropriate for small businesses

    Parting Thoughts

    Content Lifecycles help to ensure that new Content is added to your site in an organised fashion, Content is too important an element of the inbound marketing mix to add to the site in a haphazard fashion. I’m determined to make sure that my website is full of great quality content and a formalised lifecycle will enable me to initiate continual improvement in the niche which my website covers. My intention is to have a narrow focus on all aspects of digital marketing.

By |November 6th, 2015|Content|Comments Off on Effectively implement your content strategy with the Content Lifecycle

To be the best you’re got to write epic shit


Image credit: Flickr Michael Gil

I’m not completely satisfied with the way my site or business are performing, there’s always plenty of room for improvement and the post which has inspired me the most this week is ‘write epic shit’ by Corbett Barr, he argues that Building a raving audience online all starts with writing epic shit. Period. Hands down. End of story.(fizzle.co) Corbett completely hits the nail on the head when he castigates so many sites for,

And I didn’t say “write mediocre shit.” Mediocre content is all over the web. Don’t waste your time or other people’s time by writing the same inane crap that 10,000 other sites have already published.

This is the point, which struck home with me, there’s so much web content that is ‘meh’ at best, how many more blog posts need to be written about completing twitter profiles properly? its been done.to death. Also sites offering ‘templates’ which are little more than Microsoft word documents containing a table. ‘Experts’ reheating articles which were tepid 2 or 3 years ago. This isn’t content, its noise.

As so often happens this weeks post took a detour from the original topic, which concerned shareable content, in short shareable content is epic content. You don’t say to online friends ‘ hey come and look at this it’s completely ordinary’

Why epic is good

Epic is good because it will make a great first impression and provide all of the following benefits, most of which are very attractive; Epic content is the only way to do this. Average or OK doesn’t cut it, we’re swamped with mediocrity, this relates to authenticity, which I’ve discussed a few times before.

  • Enable you to stand out from the crowd
  • Increase Brand visibility
  • Establish your reputation
  • Earn Backlinks and better search rankings
  • Increase your expertise

Parting thoughts

I don’t want to be merely good or OK,I want it to be EPIC, yes I appreciate there’s work to do!(stop sniggering at the back.I think in some ways the content rat race (the need to constantly develop new content) will almost inevitably lead to declining standards trying to figure out a way to counteract this problem, this makes it an interesting/difficult challenge for the smaller business to overcome. I think a content lifecycle which focuses on continual improvement in response to measurement/feedback rather than continual growth is possibly te way forward here.Challenge accepted.

By |October 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on To be the best you’re got to write epic shit

Fine tune your content by understanding the different types of search query


(Image credits: Flickr:www.gotcredit.com/

Search Queries fall within three main categories. These are as follows

  • Transactional Queries
  • Navigational Searches
  • Informational Searches

If we can understand how searchers use Search engines then it should be possible to build websites, which enable them to satisfy their informational needs.

Navigational Searches

Navigational searches are where web searchers are looking for a particular website, “Facebook” and “You tube” are both navigational searches (incidentally they are the top two searches on Google (source:wordstream.com) these are good examples of navigational searches.SearchEngineland.com suggest that ‘Navigational searching seeks to locate a specific web site’(searchengineland.com) On a more everyday level searching for a particular company name in the hopes their website will be revealed is an example of a navigational search. Research has shown that around 10 -15% of searches are navigational in nature.

What can I do about Navigational Searches?

Wordstream.com suggest that ‘The fact is, you don’t stand much of a chance targeting a navigational query unless you happen to own the site that the person is looking for’(source:wordstream.com) this limits the options available for website owners

Informational Searches

When searchers are looking for facts and answers to questions this is known as an informational search. Research has shown that 50-80% of searches are informational in nature (searchengineland.com)

How can I target Informational Searches?

Wordstream.com argue that The best way to target informational searches is with high-quality SEO content that genuinely provides helpful information relevant to the query.Searchengineland.com suggest two broad categories of informational content, “time limited” and “evergreen” content, websites will derive more benefits from the latter type of content which doesn’t go out of date however they warn that evergreen how to type content has

unfortunately earned a bad reputation due to sites like ehow and wikianswers, where you are as likely to find content on how to tie a shoe (not particularly useful) as you are on how to tune a guitar (useful). If a how-to is useful, then by all means, you should write it and include it on your website.searchengineland.com

Transactional Searches

Transactional searches are where a searcher is intent on making a purchasing decision ‘Apple iPhone 4s’ would be an example of a transactional search as would ‘takeaway pizza Lancaster’ many local searches are transactional in nature.

How can I target Transactional searches?

Wordstream recommend using Pay per click to complement organic search results arguing that with sponsored as transactional searches are generally near the bottom of the sales funnel targeting these type of queries will deliver ROI results already taking up a sizeable chunk of ‘above the fold’ content on search engine results pages (SERP),PPC would be an effective way of ensuring that your site ranks for this type of query.

Parting thoughts

The types of search query customers use changes during the customer journey or depending on their position within the sales funnel. A potential customer will have different questions and information requirements from a repeat customer it’s the job of your website to support customers with their questions during the buying process or at what http://www.entrepreneurial-insights.com describe as touchpoints. Providing a range of relevant and useful content is the best way to do this.

By |October 23rd, 2015|Content, SEO|Comments Off on Fine tune your content by understanding the different types of search query

SEO Basics: Spider,Crawlers and bots oh my!

Map of London underground

This weeks article will build on the previous weeks it’s a closely related topic, how search engines index or read & record the content of websites, by using search spiders (aka webcrawlers or bots) to identify and store the contents of the web, understanding how this works will enable the designer to build websites which search engines can easily index or ‘read’.

What exactly are search spiders?

spiders also known as web crawlers and bots(be prepared for plenty of arachnid metaphors here) are special pieces of software which crawl the web analysing the contents of web pages and feeding the information back to search engines. Google offer the following description

We use software known as “web crawlers” to discover publicly available webpages. The most well-known crawler is called “Googlebot.” Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, much like you would if you were browsing content on the web. They go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s serverwww.google.com

How do Spiders traverse the web?

The best metaphor I have encountered for explaining this is the in the book The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization (Theory in Practice) by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin it uses the famous London underground map to explain how stations(web pages) and lines(hyperlinks), it is this network of hubs and spokes which search siders traverse, feeding the information back to the search engine, allowing the search engine to develop a representation of the web, when we (the end users search the web we are actually searching the Search Engines indexed representation of the web which has discovered by search spiders and fed back to

Why is this important?

Understanding how spiders operate enables designers to build websites that spiders can easily traverse and it explains why setting up robots.txt and xml sitemaps are best practise when optimising a website, it also influences the structure or hierarchy of the website, it is essential that spiders can completely traverse the website, it is best to minimise the depth of the website ‘no page should be more than 3 clicks away from the homepage’ (source: http://www.webseoanalytics.com) breadcrumbs(a navigation aid which shows the user where they are in the website) provide a convenient way to enable spiders to completely traverse the website, breadcrumbs are also excellent from a usability perspective.


The Robots exclusion standard or robots.txt is a text file stored on the webserver, which provides instructions for search spiders. The file informs spiders which parts of the may be accessed and which parts are effectively off limits to the spiders. Wikipedia provides the following description of robots.txt.

A robots.txt file on a website will function as a request that specified robots ignore specified files or directories when crawling a site. This might be, for example, out of a preference for privacy from search engine results, or the belief that the content of the selected directories might be misleading or irrelevant to the categorization of the site as a whole, or out of a desire that an application only operate on certain data. >Wikipedia.com


Sitemaps are xml(extensible markup language) file which provide spiders (and search engines) with information how a website is structured it is best practice to have a sitemaps.xml file in the root folder Google offer the following advice:

If your site’s pages are properly linked, our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of your sitesupport.google.com

this advice is especially applicable if it’s a large website, Google then add the following warning, however its certainly advisable to ensure that your website has a sitemap.

Using a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, as Google processes rely on complex algorithms to schedule crawling. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.support.google.com

Parting thoughts

Understanding how spiders work is an important element of building spider friendly websites which can be completely analysed by spiders, failure to do this will result in parts of the website being off limits to web crawlers, thus rendering them invisible to search engines, for this reason caution is advised when securing parts of the website and using JavaScript heavy websites, historically spiders have had difficulties completely indexing JavaScript so best practise involves allowing fall-back methods to enable complete access where JavaScript causes problems for crawlers.

By |October 16th, 2015|SEO|Comments Off on SEO Basics: Spider,Crawlers and bots oh my!

Onpage SEO Basics – Images


Flying Pigeon bicycle (image source:Wikipedia)

One of the most common problems I encounter when developing SME websites is a lack of understanding of how search engines actually work it these misconceptions I aim to correct in this short series of SEO basics articles which will enable you to build on solid foundations when making Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) choices for your website, one of the more common problems is not understanding how Search engines ‘see’ images

On Page Best Practises

There is a range of best practises for SEO optimised image placement; I will give an overview of them here generally search engines value usability(ease of use) highly so Search Engines will approve of

naming images

As stated earlier Search bots cannot identify images, which is why its best to help them to identify images by giving them descriptive and relevant names preferably featuring keywords, so its best to rename images from IMG_5528.JPG to say carl-potts-portrait.jpg, this identifies the image in a way which search bots can decipher this process can be aided by suitable use of alt tags which we’ll examine next.
human view of BBC website

Human view of the BBC website

alt tags

Alt tags provide a usability aid. They are intended to assist partially sighted users who rely on screen reader software to use
About.com provides the following description, in order for certain variants of html to verify correctly images are required to have completed alt tags, and this is good from both a usability and SEO perspective.

The alt attribute is an attribute of the img tag and is meant to be an alternative for non-visual browsers when they come across images. This means, that the text is meant to be used when the image is not visible on the page. Instead, what is displayed (or read) is the alternative text.http://webdesign.about.com

Image Title Tags

Title tags are another frequency overlooked image attribute(I know I’m guilty on this front!) but they are great from a Usability perspective
Search Engine Journal provide the following description of title attribute for images

image title (and the element name speaks for itself) should provide additional information and follow the rules of the regular title: it should be relevant, short, catchy, and concise (a title “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set“). In FireFox and Opera it pops up when you hover over an image:

How this works in practise is probably best illustrated with an image and example.THe Above picture of a bicycle has all of the best practices completed including image title, alt tags and file name.

Parting thoughts

Optimisation of Images is one aspect where websites often run into problems, if accessibility is an important factor then care sure to be taken to ensure that alt tags are completed for every image however to completely optimise the site then images should be named accordingly, this is an easy way to get good search engine results where people are searching for images, by following the best practises I’ve laid out in this article you will be completely covered from a search Engine and usability perspective

By |October 2nd, 2015|SEO|Comments Off on Onpage SEO Basics – Images

Add extra authority with social Proof

social proof

Image Credit (Flickr: Alexandre Duret-Lutz)

This weeks post will examine Social Proof it is related to the topic I initially planned to cover that of authority it is an important subject for those marketing on the Internet and using Social media to support that marketing

What is Social Proof?

When we are confronted by an unfamiliar situation we examine the actions of others to determine the proper behaviour expected of us the British we have a well known tendency for forming queues we’ll use Social proof to ascertain where we should queue i.e. by the guide rope near the nightclub door, and is queuing actually necessary? The use of social proof extends online to actions such as social media shares case studies, testimonials and reviews it is related to authority, Social proof can be utilised to influence people’s purchasing decisions which is what as marketers really interests us.

Types of Social Proof

5 types of social proof are commonly cited these being

‘Approval from a credible expert, such as an industry blogger or other
Approval or endorsements from celebrities, especially those that are unpaid
User Social Proof
Approval from current users of the product/service, such as customer testimonials, case studies, and reviews
Wisdom of the crowd
Approval from large groups of other people, ie 5 million people cannot be wrong use our widget!
Wisdom of friends
Approval from your friends or people you know, family would fall in this category

The categories and descriptions in the above list are courtesy of both TechCrunch and Hubspot.
I have no doubt you will be familiar with most of these types of social Proof especially the first two where Celebrities and experts are used to endorse products this will undoubtedly influence some people to purchase said product. Personally I tend to relying mainly on the wisdom of friends and to a lesser extent the wisdom of crowds for opinion on purchases. If I am buying a widget I will talk to friends who I know to be widget experts and ask their opinion, where such expertise is unavailable I will examine reviews on both the British and American Amazon websites, that is how I personally gather information for purchasing decisions, using specialist publications to find reviews to complete the process if you like that’s my typical buyers journey and how I use social prof to reinforce decisions.

Online Social Proof

Online people look for forms of social proof however they take slightly different forms, an article which is widely shared would be regarded as having social proof likewise a twitter or You tube account with a large number of followers. On reflection I suppose that social proof is related to the concept of critical mass, people do join Social Networks if most of their friends & acquaintances are using the network, Critical Mass is the number beyond which people will join your social network on their own accord, in a similar way Google plus failed to take off in the UK at least so lack of social proof may put people off an action.

Definition: Critical mass is a sufficient number of adopters of an innovation in a social system so that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growthWikipedia.com

Parting thoughts

Social proof is a factor well worth considering when considering your online marketing efforts, utilised correctly it can be used to give your marketing more impact ands to give you more authority, which is always desirable online.

By |September 25th, 2015|Content, SME Online Marketing, Social Media|Comments Off on Add extra authority with social Proof

Why Visual Content is so important for on-line marketers

visual communication

Image Source Flickr:jamjar

This week I’ll return to an important topic I’ve covered previously the use of visual content in social media and content marketing

What exactly is Visual Content?

This may seem a rather basic question, but things such as photographs, illustrations and graphics count as visual content in addition content such as video and presentations/slideshows are categorised as visual content, this is a constantly developing field with the widespread adoption of HTML 5 Leading to the current trend of animated infographics as animated .gifs are supported by both twitter and now Facebook this is a trend I can see continuing to develop further, I personally find them very useful and informative (yeah, I’m a geek)

A Picture tells thousand words

The above truism (or banality if you like) is the main advantage of visual content in the attention starved world on the internet you only have seconds to grab the attention of site visitors or social media followers, The brain processes images 60,000 times more quickly than text, well chosen (more on that later) visuals enable the marketer to do that, they can also be used to convey emotion

Further advantages of Visual Content

Being rapidly understood is not the only advantage of visual content there is a number of additional benefits ‘ll attempt to introduce some of them here:


Visual content uses design to present information in a format that is stimulating, attractive and engaging. This makes it easier to synthesize and piques interest immediately. In short, visual content grabs your audience’s attention.

Readily Shareable

Visual content is easily shareable on social media, with memes being the perfect example of this type of content, for this reason good visual content is a great way to raise your brand’s profile. Wikipedia offers the following definition of Internet Memes

An Internet meme (/ˈmiːm/ MEEM) is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet. Some notable examples include posting a photo of people lying down in public places (called “planking”) and uploading a short video of people dancing to the Harlem Shakewww.wikipedia.com

If you’ve spent any length of time on social media you will have encountered memes even though you may have not been aware of the definition.


Visual Content is a great way to convey emotion either through the use of colour or imagery. Carefully chosen imagery can be used to provoke an emotional response be it happiness or trust. Conversely poorly chosen imagery can provoke a negative response, this is where stock imagery can often fall flat although beautifully photographed it looks inauthentic and staged, in my opinion this is a common problem with stock imagery it can be spotted a mile away and looks pretty corny

Parting thoughts

Visual Content is one of THE most effective ways to give your online marketing more impact and vigour, the rise of social networks such as Pinterest & Instagram shows that it’s a form of content, which has wide appeal, as with all content it can work both ways if your choice of visual content is misadvised it risks

By |September 18th, 2015|Content, Social Media|Comments Off on Why Visual Content is so important for on-line marketers

Brand Voice will enable you to take your content & Social Media to the next level


Image Flickr:Jae Storer


I’ve mentioned before that I believe that Authenticity lies at the heart of great content and social media it’s an element of this I wish to examine with this weeks Blog post that of Brand Voice. The reason I’m discussing this topic is I find it hard crafting calls to action designed to suit a British audience, I suppose an understated type of British Call to action would be appropriate, why not try our they are really rather good, would be fine, mind that Cranks Britishness up to 11 and its in danger of being included in Downton Abbey but on reflection the approach is fitting. If you are serious about Branding, the Brand voice and persona are important considerations.

tone, voice and persona

There’s some confusion between the terminologies I’m using here, I want to use this section to clarify the differences as the following terms are sometimes used interchangeably


Stephanie Schwab defines tone thus

Tone is the underlying vibe that emanates from your brand’s communications. This is where you establish your credibility; place your brand in the past, present or future; and subtly alert fans and followers whether your brand is going to be wide-open or a bit more buttoned up www.socialmediaexplorer.com


Buffer app define voice as

“Your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.” I find this is where some of the confusion creeps in. Julie Wildhaber at quickanddirtytricks.com suggests that

You could consider tone a subset of voice. If voice is the personality of a story, then tone is the mood. www.quickanddirtytips.com

The Difference between Tone and Voice

I like the way that Charisa Weaks clarified the difference using dictionary definitions however I’ll use a different dictionary Chambers UK , a method I’ll copy here

a quality or character of the voice expressing a particular feeling or mood

For example you could write in a sarcastic tone where I much prefer to use a helpful tone on this website and a playful/friendly one on social media

expression in the form of spoken(or written-Carl) words gave voice to their feelings

Wheaton College provide a helpful explanation of the difference, the voice is what makes communication uniquely yours a stylist fingerprint if you like

Anything you write should still have your voice: something that makes your writing sound uniquely like you. A personal conversation with a friend differs from a speech given to a large group of strangers. Just as you speak to different people in different ways yet remain yourself, so the tone of your writing can vary with the situation while the voice — the essential, individual thoughts and expression — is still your own. www.wheaton.edu


Persona is a fairly similar concept, which Ms Schwab defines thus, this is a different meaning of the term persona to the usual on employed with social media and content marketing

This is the starting point for the development or furthering of your brand voice: Who does your brand sound like? In order to determine this, you may need to first determine who your customers are, so you can assume a persona for the brand that will resonate with your primary target audience.

Parting Thoughts

The key words here are ‘will resonate with your primary target audience’ get the brands voice wrong and you risk alienating your audience, which is not a good idea. Like authenticity Brand voice is a topic I feel quite strongly about, content and communication without voice is boring and bland at worst its like talking to a RSS feed (an approach some social media users adopt with lots of posts with scant interaction with other users, I’m not convinced about this approach with social media it may attract followers but does nothing for engagement which really is the whole point of social media if you ask me. Brand Voice is a vital consideration, a poor choice of voice will make my hackles rise I don’t know if this is just me being grumpy .Voice even extends to the choice of fonts, Colours and Imagery used

Poor choices make a poor impression

For a Curriculum Vitae Comic Sans would be deemed inappropriate choice of font, yes I appreciate that’s a heavy handed example but it illustrates the point there are even instances of Gravestones set in Comic Sans (no, I’m not joking) it shows how information delivered in the wrong voice can be jarring and make a bad overall impression, in this case not so much the deceased person but their friends &family!

By |September 11th, 2015|Content, SEO, SME Online Marketing, Social Media|Comments Off on Brand Voice will enable you to take your content & Social Media to the next level