I’ve never been a big fan of the word “copy”. It sounds so cold and clinical, like something that gets churned out by a computer at a hundred thousand words per minute, or like some drab off-white paint you buy in buckets and roll over blank spots on a wall. But my biggest problem with the word “copy” is that it subtly implies some less than noble intent, as opposed to, say, just “writing”.
That’s because these days copy is so often reduced to being a tool in the SEO arsenal. It’s less about warmly guiding the user through your web site and more about boosting your rankings. What’s the keyword theme of your page? Is the copy optimized to broadcast appropriate authority signals to the search engines? Will the copy help your site rank highly in the SERPs? SEO first, user experience second. That’s the attitude.
Let’s be real—we’ve all had to write SEO copy before, and we’ll probably have to do it again. But it’s definitely something we should be working to extinguish for good. A copywriter’s job is to protect the integrity of the writing and, ultimately, the reader. Let the SEOs worry about search engine rankings. Let the designers design. We want to challenge agencies everywhere to stop filling websites with SEO copy and start filling them with great writing.
Not sure what the differences are between SEO copy and great writing (that also happens to be optimized for search)? No problem. Here’s what to look for:
There’s a famous anecdote about President William Taft that claims his father was once viciously slandered by a gossip publication when the future president was a young man. The editor of the publication in question had managed to dodge every libel lawsuit that came his way for his misdeeds, to the point where people in the community had more or less given up on preventing him from printing falsehoods. That is, until Taft approached him one day in defense of his father and delivered an awesome, movie trailer-worthy line:
“My name is Taft,” he said, “and my purpose is to whip you.”
Then he pummeled the guy so badly that the editor fled town in terror the next day.
I know, I know. Violence isn’t the answer and we know that now. But that is a COOL story with a powerful message about standing up to bullies. In fact, it’s just one of many things that we all stand to learn from the amazing and fascinating men that have served as President of the United States.
Twitter can be a great way to build an audience for your content, and I’d say it’s pretty widely agreed upon that proper hashtag usage is a big part of being successful there. The problem is, most "hashtag advice" focuses mostly on figuring out what users are talking about. It’s about deducing hashtag origins and measuring activity, then picking the ones with the most buzz.
And that’s great. You should do those things. But that’s typically where the useful advice ends. “Find out what people are talking about and join the conversation. Go ahead. Get in there. Good things will happen.”
Unfortunately, "joining a conversation" can mean a lot of things. If I’m at lunch and I overhear a couple at the next table talking about macaroni and cheese and I lean over and tell them that I have a fantastic recipe that they absolutely must try, you could say I’ve successfully joined the conversation. But the fact is that just because they were talking about macaroni and cheese doesn’t mean they care what I have to say about it. Who am I? Just some weirdo eating alone at a restaurant, that’s who.
My problem is that I remain unconvinced that people are actually clicking hashtags. It seems the people who include hashtags to get seen far outnumber the people who use them to find great content.
Years ago, there was a time when comedy meant something. There was Animal House, which explored the importance of brothership and male bonding with raw honesty; there was Office Space, which spoke to dissatisfied workers everywhere in a way that no film had before; and, of course, there was Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day is one of the all-time great comedies, and it shouldn’t surprise you to hear it’s not just some goofy Bill Murray vehicle engineered for big laughs and steady DVD sales. No, when you really think about it, Groundhog Day is a film that resonates deeply with nearly everyone that views it. The movie speaks to an ever-growing generation of Americans that hates their jobs, their lives and pretty much everything around them that contributes to the agonizing dullness of their existence. Best of all, it speaks to these people with a positive message—one that empowers them to ignite change in themselves.
That's right, watching Groundhog Day can make you a better person, but the bigger question is: can it make you a better marketer?
This year, we've published over 70 posts on the Nebo blog covering everything from the history of french fries to the same-sex marriage controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A. Our goal is to write content that engages and fuels intelligent discussions. If we can work in a fast food tie-in, great.
Internally, we like to track how many social shares each post receives. It helps us learn which topics people find interesting, which ones are duds, and which of our writers deserve promotions (just kidding).
Looking back at our most-shared posts from 2012, we can glean more than a few insights into our audience and how we can better engage them in 2013.