Social Networks & Digital Media

Framing our thoughts on social media

We need to begin thinking about not only our audiences but the networks our audiences are a part of – both online communities and that of the physical world. Most of us are overloaded with content every day, and even if  we are not glued to our smartphones or laptops, we all know some people who are. We can always catch up on the latest trends or news updates with peer recommendations. So, content is everywhere. The marketplace is flooded with information, and readers are selectively parsing what they want to see on their preferred platforms. Thinking about how to break through all that noise to reach our target audiences is what we should be strategizing as content strategists.

Factors to consider when developing content strategies

Consider three crucial questions:

  1. How will we create value? (That is, value to your customers’ eyes, not simply that of the company’s.)
  2. How will we deliver value? (Think multi-media!)
  3. How will we capture value? (What is our relation with our audience and how does that come in to play in terms our defining our value?)

Learn about your audience and find the influencers and experts for a topic or community. When you locate that information, identify and serve them by retweeting their content. Learn about the hashtags they use and watch what they discuss on different topics. In a sense, become a part of their world!

There are also advanced social monitoring tools out there that can help you examine topics and give you the break-down of key words used around topics (for example, Salesforce’s Radian6 and IBM Social Media Analytics). These tools can produce raw data that can put your quantitative data into actionable insights. With more insight about our audience, we can adapt our content strategy to meet the needs to changing live trends.

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Putting the “Strategy” in Content Strategy

Creating Shareworthy Content

Social media – visuals matter! Great photographs can be turned into videos, and in general, pictures and videos share more than text alone. Also, think of ways to integrate both print and digital content. We thought that digital would complete displace print materials, but it turns out that that’s not the case. Using a combination of both shows greater returns. You are likely to address a bigger audience this way. Perhaps young adults are glued to their laptops and smartphones, but the more mature generations would find it more enjoyable to pick up a magazine and browse through that.

In today’s digital age, the length of your content matters greatly. Brevity is key, and it’s important to choose your words carefully. While not every piece needs to be brief, every word counts.

Stuck on a problem? Crowd-sourcing is the new great way to engage the public and ask your audience what they think. Gather ideas and solutions from the public, the very people you are trying to address!

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Content Strategy – Coursera MOOC

I recently enrolled in a Content Strategy MOOC course with other members of my new team NerdWallet. (I got this new gig 2 months ago!) While content strategy doesn’t quite jump-start my thinking engines, I thought to myself, I work with so many writers and editors on a daily basis; I should be able to chime in every once in a while and give knowledgeable feedback or input. A large number of my team is enrolling in the certificate program, and I did so, too.

I aim to take notes from the lecture videos and discussions we have and include them here on my WordPress. Perhaps this will help some of you out there who are managing your own online content and would like some tips on best practices.

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Quora: How do I land a job in user experience design with no prior experience and no degree in this field?

How do I land a job in user experience design with no prior experience and no degree in this field? – Quora.

A good answer to the question (above) to keep in mind:

UX is not about hip and cool designs in your portfolio, it’s not about fancy or pretty. It’s about creating valuable (the most important, but rarely discussed), functioning (very important, but few mention it), frictionless (important and many times overlooked or ignored) experiences for a user, that they, the users, also happen to enjoy (this is UX for most people, and they are wrong). 

Notice the ordering of the things I mentioned? Also, notice how the more important aspects of UX are not easily presented in a portfolio?

Let’s get to the first in the list above: value. You have to understand the human dynamic, what real people (users) want in their lives and and why they would want or need it to understand HOW to deliver this service or product. This requires research, experience and a deep understanding of human psychology. 

What you will find out is real people rarely want what you think they want, so it takes years of experience to figure that out. Most designer almost always get it wrong when they are inexperienced.

Then there’s the second in the list: functioning. This too is many times improperly defined for inexperienced designers. Functioning does not mean animation or the latest in iOS transitions and funky 3D such and such. This is about creating user-interaction and interfaces that match the users preexisting mental models. This is about not making users think to use a product and about getting out of there way (frictionless).

Many designers are bad at this step. They want to create UI/Ix that grabs their attention and wows them, but many times this becomes a distraction. Users care about achieving tasks, consuming content or creating stuff with the least amount of effort on their part. They almost always don’t care about Helvetica or anemic icons or crazy animation!

Anyway, we’ve covered half of my list and haven’t actually discussed design in the aesthetic sense yet, and that is my point. UX is not about design as it’s actually about the user. To even begin to create an effective UX, you have to first understand the complexities about psychology, usability, culture, HCI, heuristics, research, information architecture and taxonomy …

Anyway, when it’s all said and done, it’s all about value. You can create the most beautiful, usable, functional product in the world, but if it has no valueto the intended user, it’s worthless. This is the pinnacle of UX.

– Justin Lowery

Chapter 10: HTML Forms

HTML forms are the primary way in which online commerce occurs. Without forms for customer input (mailing address, credit card information, etc.), there will not be such a bustling online industry. The HTML form is the interface in which readers enter data, but this is only the input. The data needs to be processed on the web server using applications or in the Common Gateway Interface (CGI). The CGI is the “communication bridge” between the web server and the internet. The CGI collects data sent by the user through HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the web browser, basically), using computer programs called scripts. It then transfers the data to a variety of data-processing programs that are running on the server. It can work on the data and then send back confirmation (or any other type of information) to the CGI that in turns sends it to the original sender.

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language, which means it runs on the user’s computer and not the server. JavaScript can enhance your site’s usability with beneficial programming functions, such as checking to ensure all entries are accurate before submitting. This language is the most commonly used scripting language for HTML forms.

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