You aren’t part of that social media conversation if you’re not listening.

popcorn conversationRight towards the end of my short book, Popcorn Content, I talk about the importance of putting your finger on the pulse of any social media conversation.

Let me expand on that a little.

I think for most of us our default setting with social media is to jump in and take part in as many conversations as possible, across multiple sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

We just want to be out there, in front of as many people as we can.

But deep down, I think we all know there is a problem with that approach.

Read the full post…

Popcorn Content: The craft of writing short-form content for social media.

popcorn content for social media

Popcorn Content is a short book about writing social media content.

Read it and learn how to write short-form content that hooks, compels and engages.

Whether you are writing a tweet, an update intro for Facebook, a post headline for Google+, a comment for Pinterest, or a title for a YouTube video…you need short content that pops.

Is writing this kind of short content really a separate “craft”? Absolutely it is. The social media environment is fast-moving, and whatever you say or share not only sinks into the flow really quickly, but is also in constant competition for attention.

Whether you are trying to hook readers, or engage in conversations, your social media content has to jump off the page.

That’s what Popcorn Content is all about.

Your social media text needs to be front-loaded with the most powerful words and ideas. It needs to hook readers quickly before you lose their attention. It needs to be intriguing and immediate, so readers click through to read more. It has to be worth sharing, and easy to share.

In short, it’s a whole different way of writing.

So what’s with the “popcorn” thing?

Read the full post…

To really understand social media, you first need to know its 30-year history.

speakers corner conversationsHere’s a timely quote for you:

“…a place for conversation or publication, like a giant coffee-shop with a thousand rooms; it is also a worldwide digital version of the Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, an unedited collection of letters to the editor, a floating flea market, a huge vanity publisher, and a collection of every odd special-interest group in the world.”

That’s not a bad description of social media.

But it wasn’t written about social media.

It was written by Howard Rheingold in his book, The Virtual Community. His book was first published in 1993, before the web even existed.

Read the full post…

Is there a market for more social media experts?

nick usborne social mediaEvery week I seem to find an article, post or tweet that mocks social media experts.

Granted, most of these pieces are written by social media gurus themselves, who are anxious to separate themselves from this influx of new competitors.

As I say in the video below, there are two sides to this story.

Yes, in one respect these gurus are right. A lot of people claim to be experts, based only on their own, personal familiarity with various social media sites.

But they are also wrong, because there are also plenty of other people who are taking the trouble to dig deeper and learn the skills of true social media marketers.

Read the full post…

My interview on writing killer headlines for web content [VIDEO]

Wordtracker interview with Nick Usborne about web content headlinesRecently Ken McGaffin of Wordtracker interviewed me about the craft and art of writing great headlines for web content.

As always, I spoke for too long, so we had to divide the interview into two separate videos. In addition, these aren’t the most finely produced of our videos. I think I sat way too close to the camera!

That aside, we covered some interesting ground.

Too many web content writers pay scant attention to writing a great headline. This is a problem, because headlines have a huge impact both on how many people actually read your content pages, and on how widely shared those pages are through social media.

Read the full post…

4 Examples of Effective Headline Design.

headline design for web contentHeadline design? What does that mean?

It means writing and formatting your headline in a way that makes it jump out from the page, or email, or a smartphone.

It used to be that headlines had to do a single job, on the web page where the balance of the content followed. Read the headline, and then keep reading the body text immediately below.

Today, headlines still have to work well, immediately above the body content, but they also have to grab attention and hook readers when they stand alone.

Here are a few situations where your headline has to stand alone, or almost alone: When used as a tweet on Twitter. In an RRS feed. On a smartphone. In Reddit or Digg.

In these circumstances, your headline has to jump out from dozens of others, and get the reader to click through to the full page or post.

Read the full post…