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Let's Be Honest: MinneWebCon 2016

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There’s no value in content your users don’t understand or don’t trust. In this presentation, Sarah Rhea Werner digs into the importance of having a fresh, authentic, and honest voice for your organization, and shows you how to create content that people actually want to consume. It’s time to stop kidding ourselves about who we are and what our users want from us. It’s time to re-think how we talk to people online. It’s time for honesty.

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Let's Be Honest: MinneWebCon 2016

  1. 1. Let’s Be Honest: CREATING CONTENT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT @SarahRheaWerner | clickrain.com
  2. 2. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  3. 3. “Your call is very important to us.” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  4. 4. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  5. 5. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  6. 6. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  7. 7. “Your call is very important to us.” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  8. 8. Bad web content @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  9. 9. PR spin @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  10. 10. False advertising @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  11. 11. Why are businesses dishonest? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  12. 12. Thoughtless vs. malicious @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  13. 13. They’re lying to themselves. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  14. 14. “We’re fun!” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  15. 15. Aspirational so easily becomes delusional. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  16. 16. Agency. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  17. 17. Money. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  18. 18. Fear. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  19. 19. Today: ● Gain a deeper understanding of your audience & users. ● Create honest content with an authentic voice that engages users. ● Take a moment to consider SEO & web best practices for users. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  20. 20. Today: You’re not going to come away from this with a “silver bullet” that fixes all of your problems. In fact, you’ll probably leave with even more questions than you started with. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  21. 21. But that’s OK. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  22. 22. Step back. Who are you, really? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  23. 23. Know the truth. If your company was a person, what would their personality traits be? (Positive and negative.) (And don’t spin it.) @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  24. 24. Most companies are unable to do this. They are not willing or able to come to terms with who and what they are. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  25. 25. Aspirational so easily becomes delusional. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  26. 26. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  27. 27. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  28. 28. Truth can hurt. But broken things can be fixed. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  29. 29. What creates our truth? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  30. 30. What creates our trust? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  31. 31. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  32. 32. “The idea of advertising is to lie without getting caught.” —Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange, co-founder of Trello, & kind of cynical dude @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  33. 33. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  34. 34. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  35. 35. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  36. 36. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  37. 37. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  38. 38. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  39. 39. Why are we OK with this? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  40. 40. We’re becoming less OK with companies that are: ● Disingenuous ● Opportunistic ● Dishonest ● Insincere ● Clearly in it for the $$$ @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  41. 41. Relationship era. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  42. 42. “The public is paying zero attention to your own pronouncements, but they are listening to one another talk about you. And, unlike your advertising and PR, they trust one another.” —Bob Garfield, WNYC’s “On the Media” (emphasis mine) @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  43. 43. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  44. 44. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  45. 45. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  46. 46. “Business, government and all institutions used to do business from impregnable fortresses. Now they all reside in glass houses. Everything they do — or don’t do — is quickly located online and Google-able in perpetuity.” —Bob Garfield, WNYC’s “On the Media” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  47. 47. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  48. 48. “We’re experiencing unexpectedly high call volume.” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  49. 49. “Are they really so inept at planning that the call volume is unexpected? For months at a time?” —Seth Godin, “And What Else Will You Lie About?” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  50. 50. A more honest revision: “To save money for our customers and investors, we keep our support team lightly staffed. Please wait patiently for a few days and we’ll get back to you.” —Seth Godin, “And What Else Will You Lie About?” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  51. 51. I believe web content & marketing can have integrity. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  52. 52. The idea of advertising is to create awareness & prove the trustworthiness of your brand. —Me @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  53. 53. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  54. 54. In the relationship era, content must be a conversation. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  55. 55. you + users @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  56. 56. Who are your users? Real vs. ideal. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  57. 57. Know the truth. What type of personality traits do your users tend to have? (Positive and negative.) @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  58. 58. Users want what users want. Not what your board wants. Not what the president’s spouse wants. Maybe not even what you want. (!!!) @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  59. 59. Users want what users want. Users come to your website with a question. Please don’t talk over them with information they don’t want. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  60. 60. x @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain xkcd.com/773/ Wants & needs.
  61. 61. How do I know what my users want? Ask them. ● User interviews ● A/B testing ● Analytics @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  62. 62. Users want what users want. Do they like you? Do they trust you? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  63. 63. Engagement? ● Is it a conversation? ● Is it giving users what they want? ● Is it you getting what you want? It’s what happens BETWEEN the give and the take. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  64. 64. Engagement: ● Eliciting an emotional response from your users and ● Inspiring them to act. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  65. 65. Trust & action. “Action is quite rare. For most people, the story of 'later' is seductive enough that it appears better to wait instead of leaping.” —Seth Godin, “Awareness, Trust and Action” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  66. 66. Trust & action. The value of trust is action. We like people we can trust. We buy from people we trust. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  67. 67. “...for the first time in human history, commercial interests are rewarded for good conduct and penalized for bad conduct and have no capacity for obscuring which is which.” —Bob Garfield, WNYC’s “On the Media” @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  68. 68. Content is a conversation. How are you speaking with your users? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  69. 69. Do you have a voice & tone brief? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  70. 70. Voice & tone: Voice expresses who you are. Tone responds to what your audience wants & needs. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  71. 71. Voice & tone: Voice stays consistent. Tone shifts & changes with context. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  72. 72. Keep it readable & usable. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  73. 73. Is it something users want to read? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  74. 74. Click Rain designs, strategizes, and develops websites that adhere not only to the fundamental best practices of website development, but embody a commitment to ensuring that success can be measured across all disciplines and within every aspect. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  75. 75. At Click Rain, we make smart, strategic websites. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  76. 76. Keep it readable: ● Dialogue, not monologue. ● Conversational (we, you, etc.). ● Use headers to break up text chunks. ● Shoot for a 7th grade reading level. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  77. 77. “But we need to sound smart!” Do you? (Whom does that serve?) Use hemingwayapp.com/. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  78. 78. Keep it readable: ● Dialogue, not monologue. ● Conversational (we, you, etc.). ● Use headers to break up text chunks. ● Shoot for a 7th grade reading level. ● Make sure it is literally readable. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  79. 79. Keep it usable. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  80. 80. Responsive web design. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  81. 81. Write mobile first. What’s good for mobile is good for desktop. But what’s good for desktop is not necessarily good for mobile. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  82. 82. Answer users’ questions. If they don’t want to know it, don’t put it on your site. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  83. 83. FAQs: Are these questions REALLY frequently asked? Or is it just a repository of information you couldn’t shoehorn in anywhere else? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  84. 84. Let’s talk web content. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  85. 85. Let’s talk web content. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  86. 86. Keep it usable: ● Keep your content “device agnostic”. ● Answer your users’ questions. ● Keep information easily findable. ● Limit choices to 7 or fewer. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  87. 87. Content is a conversation. Creating good content is synonymous with creating an engaging conversation. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  88. 88. “SEO today cares mostly about engagement.” —Rand Fishkin Founder & CEO, Moz @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  89. 89. Insane honesty with Doug Kessler. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  90. 90. Setting & meeting expectations. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  91. 91. Put your worst foot forward. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  92. 92. It’s not PR spin if it’s true. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  93. 93. "Nobody does it. And when they do it, it works.” —Doug Kessler, Author of “Insane Honesty” & Creative Director at Velocity Partners @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  94. 94. Fear. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  95. 95. "No product or service is right for everyone on the planet. Not even Coke. So why can’t marketers simply admit that? Why are we so allergic to excluding even the most unlikely-to-buy from our target audience?” —Doug Kessler, Author of “Insane Honesty” & Creative Director at Velocity Partners @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  96. 96. Alienate the right people. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  97. 97. "We should be developing content that actively repels people we don’t want to work with." —Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  98. 98. Whom should you alienate? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  99. 99. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  100. 100. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  101. 101. "Insane honesty builds trust. And that’s maybe the single hardest thing to build in a marketing context.” —Doug Kessler, Author of “Insane Honesty” & Creative Director at Velocity Partners @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  102. 102. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  103. 103. Why does everyone hate ? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  104. 104. “Nickelback is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity.” —Salli Anttonen The University of Eastern Finland @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  105. 105. Don’t be the Nickelback of the web. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  106. 106. Stop trying so hard. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain@SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  107. 107. Stop trying so hard. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain@SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  108. 108. Stop trying so hard. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  109. 109. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain@SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  110. 110. Setting & meeting expectations. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  111. 111. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  112. 112. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  113. 113. Be authentic. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  114. 114. Stay readable. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  115. 115. Show your good stuff. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  116. 116. Show what you’re proud of. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  117. 117. Don’t hide what you’re not proud of. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  118. 118. Change what you’re not proud of. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  119. 119. Let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter anymore. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  120. 120. Know it’s OK to be HUMAN. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  121. 121. In fact, it’s PREFERRED. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  122. 122. Become comfortable & confident with the truth. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  123. 123. Respect your users—be honest with them. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  124. 124. And you’ll be well on your way. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  125. 125. Thank you. @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  126. 126. Keep in touch! ● Email: sarah@clickrain.com ● Twitter: @SarahRheaWerner ● iTunes: The Write Now Podcast ● Visit me at clickrain.com! @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain
  127. 127. Questions? @SarahRheaWerner | Click Rain

There’s no value in content your users don’t understand or don’t trust. In this presentation, Sarah Rhea Werner digs into the importance of having a fresh, authentic, and honest voice for your organization, and shows you how to create content that people actually want to consume. It’s time to stop kidding ourselves about who we are and what our users want from us. It’s time to re-think how we talk to people online. It’s time for honesty.

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