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Web headline lessons from The Onion

Lots of us here at Tendo read The Onion, the fake newspaper with the funny headlines. (The link to the online version is included, but frankly, the print version is better.) We’ll ask, “Did you see the headline in The Onion this week?” and then repeat whatever grabbed our eye.

And therein lies the lesson for anybody writing headlines for the Web. You have to get your audience’s attention. Yes, the content below the headline is important. But if you don’t get the click, nobody sees your content.

And The Onion understands this. According to a recent episode of This American Life (which you should listen toit’s great), the writers at the Onion come up with 600 headlines each week and narrow them down to the 16 that end up in the newspaper. Then, once those 16 headlines are chosen, they develop the story that goes with the headline.

This is, of course, almost the complete opposite approach to how most companies generate their Web content. Somebody writes content and then comes up with the headline last. I suggest an opposite approach: Write your headlines first. While the headline may not be as funny as The Onion, it will force you to define the value proposition and come up with a reason a person would click on your article before you invest the time in writing. John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

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March 30, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, John Kovacevich, Web Content | 2 Comments

Hybrid social media

If all the excitement around Web-based social media has you nervous about whether people can still hold a conversation in person, fear not. Social networking site Meetup.com has combined the ease and community-building capabilities of the Web with the primal need for in-person interaction.

Meetup.com reports more than 5 million regular users, facilitates more than 37,000 groups, and helps arrange about 80,000 physical events monthly. That’s a large group of motivated consumers, segmented by very specific interests—two attributes that typically make marketers salivate.

As reported by The New York Times on March 19, Meetup.com has found an interesting sponsorship model to support its various special interest groups. The site has signed both American Express Open and Kimberly Clarke, parent company to brands Huggies and Pull-ups, to underwrite and support Meetup.com groups for new mothers and entrepreneurs. Meetup.com’s sponsorships allow brands to provide valuable services to potential customers and opportunities to interact with their brands in meaningful ways. What’s interesting about Meetup.com’s approach is that it combines the best of two worlds: the convenience and ubiquity of the Web and the impact and intimacy of in-person interaction. Bill Golden, managing editor

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Bill Golden, In the News, Social Media, Web Content | Leave a comment

I want my online TV

For once in my life, I’m an early adopter. Like a growing number of people, I consume much of my television via my laptop computer, rather than my television set.

Sure, the image quality’s a little less crisp than real TV, my connection is sometimes slow, causing the viewer to skip or freeze, and I can’t fast-forward through the commercials as with a DVR. But still—instant, free access to stuff I want to watch whenever I want to watch it is pretty nice.

I can say definitively that I now watch more TV and regularly keep up with more shows than I ever did before. And that’s saying a lot since I rarely watched TV at all before I could access it online. My TV consuming habits have changed significantly based on now available technology. My case is probably more dramatic than most, but I don’t think this trend is going away.

Will the TV networks take advantage of this change in the wind? Or will they stubbornly resist it and try to snuff out the freedom the new technology allows, like the music industry did? Based on the current state of CD sales, which the music industry still depends on to measure success, I’d hope TV networks would choose the former option. The old way of doing things isn’t going to work here. Continue reading

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, Content Syndication, Multimedia, Selena Welz, Web Content | Leave a comment