Posted By Emily Warn on June 19, 2013
This June the big draw in the Fremont District of Seattle was not the naked bicyclists in the Solstice Parade, but rather Two Pens and Misty Weaver (content strategist extraordinaire) who presented content critiques at the Content Strategy Meetup at Makerhouse–our new place to drink beer and nibble snacks on Costco platters. Almost 80 people came to listen to the presentations, one by Cynthia and me on Zappos content brand strategy and the other by Misty on the content strategy of ModCloth. (If you love vintage clothing, you probably already shop on ModCloth and hang out with its community.)
Our case study is an expanded version of an earlier post I wrote on Zappos: the Mother of Social Innovation.
If you missed the evening, you can view Misty’s presentation on her Meaning and Measure blog and take a look at ours on Slideshare. Enjoy! And let us know your POV.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on June 12, 2013
Crush a metaphor cliché like “mean as a snake” by substituting a different animal and you could win a Word Czar hat. Photo copyright 2011 Cynthia Hartwig
“Martinis are like women’s breasts. One is not enough and three is too many.”
Metaphor and simile are two of the best weapons for making business writing more vivid. In the example above, Winston Churchill, a wit and a writer of merit, manages both to surprise and reward us with his apt description of the miniscule gap between feeling good and feeling loaded. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on June 11, 2013
Zappos has more than 2.5 million followers on Twitter and that’s not where you shop for shoes. How has the company built such a loyal following?
Come to the Content Strategy Meetup this Monday, June 17th, to get enlightened or is that zapped? I’ll present a case study on Zappos and how it successfully creates and publishes content across social media channels to grow its brand and clothe us.
Content strategist Misty Weaver will also analyze the strategy behind the successful vintage clothing site ModCloth. (more…)
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on June 6, 2013
When you learn how to tell a story, particularly aloud, you have to make the meaning clear so the audience understands why you’re telling it. Photo copyright 2013 Cynthia Hartwig
, a writer/producer for Radio Lab, gave some of the best advice on how to tell a story that I’ve ever heard. Lulu said,
“If you’re telling a story aloud, you have to make the meaning explicit.”
Weirdness Does Not Equate with Story.
The world is a strange place. Why else would villages be swallowed up by earthquakes or tornadoes in Oklahoma hurl cows into the sky?
A cow that falls out of the sky is memorable, sure, but it’s a random event. And random events happen all the time in a world that seems more terrifying every day. If lightning strikes a golfer or someone drowns in a bathtub, an audience looks to the storyteller to translate not just how something happened but why and wherefore. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on May 22, 2013
Rand Fishkin, CEO and Chief of Passion, yuks it up with his SEOMoz employees (Rand’s down front, kneeling). He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks it.
Rand Fishkin (CEO of SEOmoz) is a soulful voice of social media marketing, an advocate for being who you are as a way to find and—yes—love your following. For his do’s and don’ts on building a personal brand, click through his presentation “How to Earn Traffic Without Selling Your Soul
But turn to the soul sisters of Two Pens to learn how to write content that realizes Rand’s advice: If you express your authentic self, if your words convey your personality and passions, people will listen and kibbutz—whether you’re tweeting, posting, pinning, or scooping.
In other words, finding your social media voice is about finding your passion and focusing on that in social media. Here are some tips to get you started. (more…)
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on May 20, 2013
Don’t just use the word “dance.” Put your brain through its paces and make your writing strut, rhumba, rock or cha-cha. Photo copyright 2012 Cynthia Hartwig
When you’re pressed for time, it’s hard to write well. But believe it or not, it’s okay to write as fast as you can, churning out boring, repetitive, and overwritten drafts. Putting words on a page is always the most difficult part. It’s easy to revise them if you know these seven editing tips. They’ll keep you from torpedoing your deadline and boring the reader. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on May 17, 2013
If you want to find the pinch point between what your target audience wants to hear and what you have to say, try on their shoes and walk around for a while. Photo copyright 2013 Cynthia Hartwig
Guest blogger Michael Shilling writes for Microsoft’s MSN Music and now for Two Pens. Welcome Michael! He is the author of the novel Rock Bottom (Little, Brown and Company, 2009) and numerous short stories.
Communicating is about connecting, yet the number one mistake that social media content producers and creators make is that they treat themselves, not their readers, as their audience. They use jargon only they understand, make references only they will get, and speak in a voice that is clever for clever’s sake. Ultimately, they look inward, not outward, connecting only with themselves and missing out on countless opportunities to grow their brand, their products, their bottom line.
Yes, that’s the pep talk. Now, here are a few questions to entertain and pass along to the people in charge of your social media to get your company audience-centric: (more…)
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on May 13, 2013
Here, @lifeasbros tells us he is looking for an inanimate girl who can make dinner and presumably won’t correct his grammar.
Am I the only one who grinds my teeth at grammar mistakes involving that vs. who? This error crops up all over Twitter and Facebook, and a lot of e-books that haven’t been proofed by a copyeditor.
Did you notice the telltale phrase in my second sentence: “that haven’t been proofed by a copyeditor?” It’s a pointer to help you learn the simple solution. That refers to inanimate e-books not (presumably) animate copyeditors. (more…)
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on May 8, 2013
One is the Loneliest Number in Any Design Brief
A creative or design brief has to reduce all the things that could be said into the ONE SINGLE THING that is most important. Lots of product managers and marketing managers and client types try to wangle two or even three (!!!) points into the brief, as if more is better. It’s not a pig in a poke.
One is the loneliest number because it’s darned hard to reduce all the things that could be said to the one that will make a difference.
Go ahead. Listen to the song. One main thing is all you get to say in any communication.
Posted By Emily Warn on May 1, 2013
Don’t sacrifice the beauty of your writing to publishing like crazy. Photo copyright 2013 Cynthia Hartwig
If you Google the question about how frequently you should post, the answer is about two to three times per week. But many blog advice columnists forget one thing. I’ll tell you what it is in a second, but first let me explain why their general recommendation makes sense.