Content Rules All
Not going to lie, one of the biggest highlights of this book, was discovering Ann Handley and I are fellow Alums from Simmons College in Boston, MA. Why is that a big deal? It’s a ridiculously small school, that few have heard of. I promise I was completely objective in my review of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley....well, sort of.
First things first, I’ve formatted my review in bite size summaries of what you can expect to take away from Content Rules, no matter what your level of experience.
In managing the Social Media Club Editorial Team and a lot of the site content, I understand how vital it is to have original content that drives action, so I was excited to walk away with some million dollar ideas after reading Content Rules (Pssh...so not sharing with you).
Content Rules for Newbies -
Part One helps readers the newbie readers familiarize themselves with the rules. Rules from "building momentum" to "show, don’t just tell," are among some of the 11 Rules of creating great content, according to Handley and Chapman.
These skills are the foundation every content manager and community manager should have. One of the things I was reminded of is you can easily forget that by changing the medium, podcast, blog, webinars or video blogs help to keep things fresh on your site and also help to flesh out the multiple social channels most of us are managing.
Key takeaways for Newbies: It’s necessary to tap into your creative side and establish a human voice so your content and brand are more approachable to your consumers.
Knowing your goals, creating your strategy and setting your metrics - please see Part Two of Content Rules (how-to part) and focus on the qualitative metrics, not the quantitative stuff.
Content Rules for Intermediate -
I loved the metaphor Handley and Chapman use when referring to creating content, “Stoke the Campfire.” (pg. 96)
They go on to write, "Remember the tinder you needed to get a fire started? Small, highly combustible items that catch on quickly and help ignite the bigger stuff?"(pg. 97)
One of my go-to working documents with Social Media Club is my editorial calendar, without it I would be running blind. This begs the question, Is your content stream or calendar setting you up for success? Editorial calendars are used in journalism, we have calendars managing our tasks each day, so do you have a content calendar? See Chapter 5 for some great tips on building out the most effective editorial calendar for you and/or your business.
As if this book didn’t give you enough how-to steps, they’ve got a section ‘The Content Rules Easy-Peasy Blog Post Template,’ on page 148. One good tip that I always follow myself, support your written content with an image and vice versa, support your video/picture content with written content. Each person consumes content differently so play on as many of the sense as you can....I wish the computer monitor could shoot out scents of chocolate, bacon and beer - that’d be a winning combo for great content!
Key takeaways for the Intermediate: As many of you may feel comfortable blogging, are you comfortable with design? Not all of us has sweet usability or graphic design skills, so be open to asking for constructive criticism of your blog/site, as some of your conversion may be lost on poor design. Chapman and Handley give some effective examples of brands who have social friendly UX and tips on how to improve yours.
Also learn how to write solid, catchy headlines. Everyone is a sucker for a good headline.
After ready Content Rules, sign up for a RSS feed to Copyblogger, one of my favorite resources to strengthen my writing.
Content Rules for Advanced -
For the advanced level folks, who are writing ebooks, hosting webinars and headed for the major league of content creation, have you realized it’s a lot harder than it looks? We’re in the same boat.
Social Media Club recently launched a monthly webinar featuring titles like, Content Rules, for our monthly book club. I won’t lie, webinars, video blogs & podcasts are new territory for me - but I love a challenge.
I challenge you to follow Content Rules Chapters 16-18, which give you excellent tips to help you venture out of your comfort zone and try different mediums, like photography, video blogging and podcasting.
Key takeaways for the Advanced crowd: If you consider yourself advanced in content creation, then it’s all about the case studies, learning from others and sharing best practices.
Chapman and Handley provide some insight into ten different B2B & B2C brands that are following the rules laid out in part one & the best, put it into easily digestible sections known as ‘Ideas you can steal.‘
After you’ve seen this photo, you’ve probably concluded two things, I am obsessed with post-it notes, True. And I have a long laundry list of things (see picture of post-it notes above) I want to improve and apply to Social Media Club, stay tuned!
P.S. Ann, if you’ve read this, please don’t judge my non-MLA style review. Who uses that stuff outside College? Pretty sure Professor Ball wouldn't approve of this. ;) Go Simmons Sharks!