Battling Fake News in the Content Marketing Era

the era of fake news makes it difficult to create high quality, informative and correct content

When it comes to content, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. There are so many options available to amplify your voice and views: blogs, social media, email newsletters, YouTube videos…the options are almost endless. On the flip side, that means that all information, both correct and incorrect, can be spread quickly. Facebook and other social channels have been criticized lately for not doing enough to halt the spread of misinformation, and any reputable brand or business should well be concerned about providing information that is fact checked and well sourced. So how do you create content that you can stand behind 100%?

Take your time. Often, misinformation is the result of a simple mistake. A typo, a paragraph out of place, a poorly edited video—it is so easy to misunderstand content when consumption is a one-way street, and no one is present to answer questions or offer clarifications. Writing a draft or creating a storyboard prior to creating your content, and having a solid editing and QA process, while time consuming, is critical to ensure that your content is as accurate as possible.

Fact check and cite your work. It would be so easy to create persuasive assets if you could just pull facts out of thin air to support your points—but, sadly, that isn’t how life works. Make sure that you cite the sources for your facts, and double check the facts you use against other reputable material. Well-respected papers, published books, and speeches are great founts of information. If you are wondering what sources are credible, check out this university article on how to evaluate credible sources—it’s pretty extensive.

Only create content when you have something to say. Oftentimes, there is pressure to create content to “stay relevant” to keep your feeds “alive.” But likely, you’ll be more creative and loose with facts and information if you’re just trying to fill space. So create content only when you have something to say—be authentic, be direct, and be clear.

Have a cohesive content plan/strategy. Many people often struggle with creating a cohesive content strategy, but developing one can help you get more mileage out of each piece of content you create. For example, you can write a longer blog and break up key sentences and paragraphs, drawing content from that piece for weeks. Knowing how to break up your content will give you more space and time to create high-impact, useful content and then break it up to share across digital and other marketing channels in the future.

At Wordsmithie, we’re very proud to create high-quality, well-researched content. We hope to inspire other brands and businesses to create and share great content, too—and if you need assistance with that, we’re here to help.


ABOUT Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah Jones is a digital marketing consultant who has worked with tech startups, educational institutions and non-profits on acquisition and engagement strategy, implementation and KPI modeling. When she’s not working, she can be found reading, writing, pontificating history, yoga-ing and making up verbs.


Alt Tags for the Win: Best Practices for SEO in 2019

Alt text, also known as alternative text or, more commonly and incorrectly as “alt tags,” is part of HTML code used to describe the appearance and function of an image on a webpage.

Alt text was created to make websites more accessible for visually impaired users. Screen readers can audibly read an alt attribute, so visually impaired website visitors get a better idea of what’s on your webpage, including images. However, there are other uses for alt text, such as the fact that it can be shown in place of an image if an image file cannot load. Alt text can also give search engine crawlers a written description of what images are, allowing them to index an image.

Why is alt text important?

Alt text is important not only for accessibility, but for SEO. Search engine crawlers read the alt text you write, which further allows the search engine to understand what your website is about. This is why it is critical to provide descriptive, contextual alt text. In addition, search is rapidly becoming visual. You need look no further than Google Search, and the “Image” section of it, to see that you can now search for images as well as websites. These images are ranked using alt text.

In short, alt text gives you increased opportunities to include your target keyword on your webpage. With on-page keyword usage still important as a search engine ranking factor, it is definitely in your best interest to create alt text that both describes the image and, when possible, includes the keyword or keyword phrase that you’re targeting.

How do I write great alt text?

Alt text at its best should be descriptive, accurate and fit within the overall context of the page on which it lives. For example, take the image below:

white and pink tulips growing in a field against a blue sky

 

While an okay alternative text description might be something like, “flowers,” we can really expand upon that, noting all the various attributes of this image. “White and pink flowers growing in a field against a pure blue sky” really provides more information about the image. Keep your text short- the most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or less. However, search engines don’t have a character limit to what they’ll crawl.

There are many factors in ranking on a search engine, and alt text is one of the factors that is within your control. Using them to your advantage should be a no-brainer in your overall SEO strategy.


ABOUT Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah Jones is a digital marketing consultant who has worked with tech startups, educational institutions and non-profits on acquisition and engagement strategy, implementation and KPI modeling. When she’s not working, she can be found reading, writing, pontificating history, yoga-ing and making up verbs.


Five of the Best Websites for Graphic Design Inspiration

You’ve been there, sitting in front of your computer—late at night, maybe—with a hard deadline looming and the as-yet unfulfilled promise of three layout options hanging over your head. You need some inspiration, perhaps served with a side of distraction.

Here are five fantastic web sites that I’ve turned to for ideas, and, diversion.

The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center Movie Poster Archive

best websites for graphic design inspiration

With over 10,000 vintage movie posters in the collection—from obscure titles to those of well-known classics—the Ransom Center Movie Poster Archive might be the most complete collection of cinema ephemera extant. The bulk of the assemblage comes from the former Interstate Theater Circuit that, at one time, “consisted of almost every movie theater in Texas,” and, the posters are free to download and print for non-commercial use. The greats—like Saul Bass—are represented, as is the work of countless anonymous artists. Either way, there’s a ton of great design available here.

The Newberry Library Digital Collection

The Newberry Library, a private humanities research institution in Chicago, is a treasure trove, and, was a frequent hangout for me when I was in design school, just down the street. In the past few years, they’ve made available a huge amount of material on their web site. The Ephemeral by Design collection includes type specimens, vintage ads, and, some truly amazing letterheads.

The Public Domain Review

websites for graphic design inspiration

The Public Domain Review bills itself as an online Wunderkammer—a “cabinet of curiosities”—so, while it’s not a dedicated graphic design resource, the Review is a wonderful rabbit hole to stumble in to. The Art of Book Covers (1820–1914) and the highly innovative data visualizations of W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life (1900) represent just two of the excellent design-related online exhibits that the PDR offers.

The AIGA Design Archives

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is widely regarded as the premier graphic design professional association in the U.S., and, while I let my own membership lapse long ago, I still rely on their online resources and local events. Their Design Archives feature contemporary work of note, along with older materials, and, the collections are searchable by color, year, format, or keyword. Two excellent collections currently featured are 50 Books | 50 Covers and Graphic Explanations: Charts, Diagrams, Graphs and Maps. Maybe it’s time to finally renew that membership.

The Letterform Archive

The Letterform Archive is a San Francisco-based nonprofit with a collection of “over 50,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design, spanning thousands of years of history.” The Letterform Archive is the one resource listed here that requires a membership for full access, but, it’s unique in that it’s become the repository for the archives of Emigre, arguably the most important type foundry, and, graphic design publication, of its era. As a graphic design student in the late Nineties, this, and LA’s upcoming exhibit Design in the Nineties, make a membership worth my while.


ABOUT Ryan Bahrke

One of Wordsmithie's senior designers, Ryan has more than 15 years of experience in creative direction and management, working with companies like Google, Quantcast, RSM, Navigant, Starbucks, and Ace Hotel. Ryan is the principal of Auslander Creative in Denver.


Nine Tips for Writing (for eLearning and other content) with Authority

Whether you’re crafting new content so your audiences will bite (and hang on), creating eLearning training programs for your internal teams, or adding more energy to your client’s existing projects and online communities, you’ll want to boost your credibility with every word you choose.

Keeping the conversation going is mission critical as you build team cohesion, ensure info comprehension, or promote new squads of brand ambassadors. And, even more importantly, people need to believe what you’re asking them to take on. They need to know that their content source is credible, ethical, and reliable. Consider these tips to make sure your written messages—and you— are just that!

#1: Be consistent in your messaging. Stay focused on brief chunks of content so audiences won’t get distracted or lose the main thread of the information you’re imparting.

#2: Be objective with a neutral tone throughout your content presentation. Sure, you can (and should!) showcase passion and interest in your writing to keep your audiences interested but you probably don’t want to incite a riot by being controversial when you’re just trying to get your eLearning community to understand new material. 

#3: Be clear by offering simple directions for online tasks including chat or discussion prompts, exercises, and case studies. When organizing written material, consider offering section (or chapter/unit) agendas and recaps for added learning tools that spark interest and help people retain info.

#4: Be compelling and pose intriguing, relevant questions that enable a deeper dive for those who want it. Critical thinking is cool!

How to measure engagement? Your audiences can easily talk with one another (and you) via chat and discussion forums, as they collaborate via interesting team tasks and group projects.

#5: Be relevant in all that you write. If there’s not an immediate practical application, then audiences are going to be stretched to see how the material benefits them, and might ultimately lose interest. When compelling content taps into real-world problem-solving that people can use in their work and daily lives, they’ll stick with it.

#6: Provide a unique POV. When positioning new material or taking on old issues,add a creative touch to inspire others. Illustrate your due diligence in fully researching the topics up for discussion or review by offering something fresh to consider. When you demonstrate that you’re invested in the material, you’ll give your audiences reasons to stay invested, too.

#7: Draw upon other field experts by using their quotes and examples that support the points you’re trying to make. This type of evidence gathering goes a long way.  

#8: Get visual. Provide more than mere words by includingfacts and data via infographics like tables, diagrams, graphs, or photos. Different learning types need different stimuli.

#9: Spark engagement through action-oriented asks. This one’s actually more than just language, but your words can creatively guide action. Choose language to clearly frame things to do immediately with the content provided. Use bold and vivid descriptions so people can see what you’re asking, and can visualize results. How to measure engagement? Your audiences can easily talk with one another (and you) via chat and discussion forums, as they collaborate via interesting team tasks and group projects.

Credible crafters of compelling online content = you got this


ABOUT Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.


Five Ingredients for Copywriting Success: Tips and Tricks of the Trade

Much like baking, copywriting mixes a little art and a little science to yield the best content.

Much like baking, copywriting mixes a little art and a little science to yield the best content. And, like baking, using the right ingredients is fundamental to your success. Generating a compelling message starts with the words you choose: they should effectively persuade, connect, or inform. To successfully create content that reaches your target audience with the intended outcome, here are a few more ingredients to include when working on a copywriting recipe.

Stick to the point
Say what you need to in the most concise and clear manner possible. It can be tempting to elaborate on complex ideas, but keep in mind that less is more. According to copywritertoday.com, readers spend an average of 37 seconds on an article. Most audiences— especially those using social media platforms— want information that grabs their attention and is served in small bites.

Make sure your copy is visually appealing
Can your content be summarized with a quick 10– 15 second scan? If not, it might be visually cumbersome. For short- to medium- length content, the reader should be able to consume the information and digest it through various visual cues. The use of statistics (in a sea of words, numbers jump out), infographics, and subheadings will help your reader quickly navigate the content.

Generating a compelling message starts with the words you choose: they should effectively persuade, connect, or inform.

Build a connection
When creating long-form content, draw your audience in by sharing personal accounts and anecdotal stories . Research shows that these personal connections bring in more site traffic and lead to higher reader engagement. Readers will begin to look forward to the information you provide. If your content platform permits it, encourage users to share their own experiences and/or opinions. These exchanges create a sense of community, as well as loyalty for your organization and brand.

Keep your copy consistent with your brand
It takes a lot of time and energy to create and maintain a particular brand. You’ll want to ensure that your content is aligned with it. Be it a slogan, tone, or overall organizational philosophy, it should be reflected in your copy. Is your tone more casual? Make sure your blog posts and social media correspondence matches that. An organization’s brand is its identity, and that should be reflected throughout all aspects of written communication.

More keywords, less jargon
Copywriters need to be knowledgeable about the latest SEO and algorithm updates. In order to optimize your online exposure, your copy shouldn’t be overloaded with technical phrases and jargon. Focus on getting to the heart of what you need to communicate with clear, plain text.


ABOUT Arris Shabaglian

For more than a decade Arris has worked as a freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. She has also taught university level courses on the art of communication, public relations and journalism. Arris is a Pinterest addict who loves a good night’s sleep and a nice cup of coffee. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three kids (hence the need for a nice cup of coffee).