Tag Archives: media

Creative Blogging: Better content, more fun

CREATIVE BLOGGING: Better content, more fun

BLOGGING is a creative process by nature, but many bloggers tend to stick to formulas. Content that isn’t fresh and doesn’t look and feel inspired, tends to drag the audience on. This is not good for your blog as this method of blogging is the most definitive way of preventing your blog from growing and evolving. Like SEO, content creativity is critical to content quality and accessibility.

Creative BloggingThe blogging market is partly responsible for the tendency to treat a blog like a day job – going through routine processes. Creative blogging, which was the original basis of blogging, has become somewhat “industrial”, and the result has been a large number of blogs doing the same things simply because they’re the norm. The creative impetus is reduced, and that hasn’t done much for the blogs either – inflicting lower standards.

This very bad habit has done nothing for bloggers generally, and has taken a lot of the fun out of blogging. In marketing and advertising, “product identity” is critical, and the very samey content and presentation of blogs is arguably marketing suicide.

Creative blogging is really the only antidote to this situation. Good content is the core business model of successful blogging, and creativity is its main driver. It is also the major asset of blogs – the ability to develop new materials and new approaches. This is an extremely flexible medium and allows a lot of experimentation – synergistic with the creative process.

Blogs really are the most effective method of expression for a range of content that couldn’t possibly be done by mainstream media. The creative options are almost limitless and form a major part of the value of blogs as a media genre.

Creative options in blogging

The creative options are quite literally limitless. Subject, content and presentation can be developed and evolved into a unique product. These are also extremely valuable to blogs as both intellectual and commercial property. Some creative blog materials have become true classics and have formed part of the global culture.

Creative product can also fund the development of blogs and blog operators. This is one element of the creative process that can produce excellent results across a range of operations, and also pay for new media assets.

The creative options include:

  • Media content: Unique content is particularly valuable – even salable.
  • Opinions: The original basis of blogging. Opinions (particularly expert opinions) are major products and sources for media information.
  • Graphics: Graphic content on blogs are the most likely to go viral. This material translates into everything from T shirts to merchandising.
  • Journalistic content: Blogs are making major inroads into mainstream news media, and this content is becoming useful commercial property.

There is plenty of scope for creativity in blogging. This is “best practice” for blogging and is also the commercial basis of blogging. Your creativity is your greatest asset as a blogger. Develop your ideas and your blog will evolve with them.

Fuseware Social Media Report

SOCIAL MEDIA: And how it is transforming business in South Africa

Fuseware is a Cape Town based social media research company that is currently creating a free social media research survey about the business case for social media in South Africa. They are asking the top influencers in the media and marketing industry for their views regarding this and aggregating all the information into a 100% free Fuseware report.

I was asked to participate in the Fuseware survey but wanted to open it to everyone to participate and offer further suggestions. The six most poignant questions follow with my own responses, but please feel free to contribute and get your chance to be heard! I will pass all comments on to the researcher that contacted me.

1. Fuseware: How is social media changing the business landscape, specifically for South Africa?

In the media industry, social media is the next phase of journalism. Media industries that do not adopt and embrace social media and networking into their production cycles will surely wither and die in the future. Situations where news rooms fight social media to get “the scoop” will never win by virtual of the speed and spread that is offered by services such as Twitter, Blogs and even Facebook. Media organisations need to learn how to use social media themselves in unique ways if they wish to remain a viable source of information.

2. Fuseware: What is the most difficult challenge of social media use in business in South Africa?

I would argue that the biggest challenge for businesses in SA is finding unique ways to make effective use of social media without harassing and bomb-barding social networkers with corporate spam. Simply posting links to any business website on every social media platform, for example, is not effective use of social media and will only irritate people and possibly taint the name of that business or brand.

3. Fuseware: What is your ultimate example of business success in social media?

News websites that have developed social media extensions for their product are proving to be very successful in SA. News24, The Dispatch and The Times are three examples of businesses that have made effective use of social media by offering something of interest and value that was not possible with their print products. Interactivity, commenting platforms, reader feedback, creating web-presence and the use of multimedia are all effective forms of optimising such a business.

4. Fuseware: Which companies in South Africa do you think are doing social media the right way?

The three news corps. mentioned: News24, The Times and The Dispatch. Also gaming and IT websites are showing huge growth in SA – e.g. Take2, and of course the blogging community and more specifically blog aggregators – i.e. Afrigator and MyScoop are making great and effective use of social media in SA. These will continue to grow for a good while yet.

5. Fuseware: How can businesses in SA measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?

It depends on the campaign really. Following trends would be a good start, but most social media campaigns can be measured by number of followers / subscribers and the growth of these. Keeping track of website statistics and engaging with their audience(s) is also of utmost importance.

6. Fuseware: How do you envision the usage of social media in SA in 2-3 years?

The internet today is defined as “web 2.0” – i.e. the “social web”. The proliferation of social media websites and services will continue to grow in the next few years and more businesses are likely to adopt social networking into their business models. It’s almost becoming a case of “do-or-die” meaning that if businesses do not create a web-presence within the next 2-3 years while their competitors do, they will risk losing a huge number of customers / clients / readers.

  • If you would like any of your own input sent to the Fuseware team before they put together their social media report, please add it as a comment below.

Condensed twitterature takes off

NEW YORK — Arjun Basu writes short stories. Very short stories.

“The marriage didn’t survive the honeymoon. They acknowledged the majesty of their mistake. But they remained together. Because of the gifts.” – Twister story by Arjun Basu (@arjunbsau)

“I’m doing 140-character stories on Twitter,” said Basu, one of scores of authors and poets downsizing their literary talents to the limited format of the hot micro-blogging service.

“I call them Twisters because everything on Twitter has a stupid name,” the 42-year-old Basu told AFP at the 140 Characters Conference – a two-day talkfest devoted to all things Twitter held in New York.

“Each story has a beginning, a middle and an end,” said Basu. “I started with one story. I had an image in my head and I just did it, and I slowly built-up a following.” Basu began writing his Twisters last year.

“They went out hunting. They killed some large mammals. Later they saw the animals butchered. And one by one they ordered salads that evening,” reads the tale in one of Basu’s Twisters.

Haiku, which lends itself to the 140-character format, is another popular literary form on Twitter and the search term #haiku occasionally rises into Twitter’s list of “Trending Topics” – the 10 most popular topics on the site.

“And in the middle / of the rising city heat / the fountain is dry,” reads a Haiku from a Twitter user and poet with more than 3 800 followers who goes by the handle of @LadyParadis.

Websites have also popped up collecting the best of Twitter Haiku — known variously as Twaiku or TwiHaiku — and many users take part weekly in what is called Haiku Thursday.

Basu, who works in the magazine industry, said he has been surprised at the reception his byte-sized stories have received. “Things that I couldn’t have imagined,” he said.

“Some people have been using my stories in classes — English as a second language, creative writing,” he said.

— Sapa-AFP.

What Women Really Want

I humbly apologise for the lack of thought-provoking content here lately. It’s a tough time to be working in the media industry – generally. It’s almost bordering slavery. There’s one woman here who is setting the record by working for 63 consecutive days with breaks every three weeks. That’s Monday to Sunday for 21 days then a weekend break, then another full three weeks before her next weekend etc. Eish.

So I thought I would simply share another video that I made last year. It’s called What Women Really Want, which is an expo that takes place in South Africa every year. It’s not quite on the same level as Sexpo but rather a smaller scale event aimed at girls who just wanna have fun. Enjoy!

What women really want

Debunking xenophobia

“Thieving blacks”, “kaffirs”, “intruders” and “aliens” are a few of the phrases you might find in South African discourse, or on the web, used to describe the influx of people who have moved into South Africa in desperation to escape an authoritarian government. Although such words are prohibited from use in the mainstream media, they are still deeply entrenched within several South African mind-sets when hearing or reading about the ‘xenophobia crisis’.

Research and ‘the other’:
According to a survey by the South African Migration Programme (conducted in 2000), South Africans display one of the highest levels of xenophobia in the world. Now surely we can be forgiven at some level considering that we are in one of the most racially diverse countries in the world and past policies such as those of Apartheid have helped to instill and reinforce an attitude of categorising and labeling ‘the other’. Surely?

In fact, the process of labeling others who are different has existed since the dawn of humankind and exemplified by the colonial era. The caveman Jones family, who settled in a territory they considered as their own, had to sum others up by appearance and character to ensure that they and their territory (including food & shelter) were not under threat. European colonialists found it necessary to distinguish between human “types” in order to further scientific understanding. Today, invisible yet powerful borders between countries make it easier for us to categorise people, and consequently, guard ourselves against them.

Putting people into boxes (to use a figure of speech) has become an almost natural human process where the socially constructed concept of ‘race’ plays a central role. Extensive research and theories of race are still being devised to try and find a way to work and think around issues of race. However, if there is one thing that I have learnt through my studies, it is that there is no way to think around race. We need to rather, as Ruth Frankenburg suggests, “think through race.”

We have to acknowledge ourselves and others as raced subjects operating within a racist discourse, we need to have images and real sentiments regarding xenophobia in our face, and most importantly we need to be a little understanding and compassionate by imagining what it might be like to be in the shoes of ‘the others’.

Burning Man:
The photograph of a burning man, which has been used extensively in the media, has raised some relevant issues. Like the photograph of the falling man taken during 9/11, a very thin and jaggered line is crossed by the way these images are used. It goes beyond simply being a photograph and lands in a thick gravy-pot of human ethics and understanding.

One could argue that the meaning of the image has shifted from being representative of a particular event at a particular time to an iconic representation standing for an entire category of people, or a national crisis. This is in the same vain as images of the holocaust being representative of the atrocities committed during WWII.

The media have a strict obligation to remain impartial and not to publish content that may be harmful to society in any way. The decision of some papers not to include the Burning Man on the front page of their publications due to its violent imagery is an example of this obligation being implemented. However, it’s not hard to find the photo if it wasn’t in your paper and everyone is talking about it – I’m certain it will soon leak all over the web. In fact you’re likely to find the image published on more blogs and websites than it has been in newspapers.

The print media vs. the web media:
With an increasing number of people (young and old) sourcing their ‘news’ online (where any gate-keeping process is at a minimum) there almost seems to be no point in resisting publishing such a photograph in print. However, “we must think about the children and protect them from such violence” – violence that they could otherwise watch on TV.

Personally I feel that images such as these should be in your face. I regard it as a representation of what some South Africans are doing to other human beings. Granted we need to watch our own backs and protect our jobs, yet there is always room for a little humanity in this world.

Flames of hatred
necklacing
“Necklacing” is a form of execution whereby a tyre filled with petrol is lit and put around the victim’s neck

I have been labeled as a white middle-class male who happens to live in South Africa. I have a secure job and have not been directly affected in anyway by the ‘xenophobia crisis.’ You can call me indifferent, or a “privileged white”, but never associate me with South Africans that torture their fellow human being.

As hard as it is to do, we need to start thinking outside the boxes.

Related post:
Can Obama bring racial equality to the United States?