Technical Writing and Writing for the Web

The following are the workshop notes for a presentation I gave recently to Portland Community College’s Technical Writing class. The topic was on web writing and writing for the web.

The main topics I covered in the workshop included:

  • Web platforms
    • Web publishing
    • Online personas
  • Writing for the Web
    • Web writing structure and format
    • Myths and Facts
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Demographics
    • Writing for your audience


The following are terms and jargon used in blogging and social media.

  • Blogging: Publishing on the web through websites (blogs) and social media. Facebooking and Twitter are blogging, specifically microblogging.
  • Photoblogging: Publishing photography and words on the web through websites and social media.
  • Vlogging: Publishing video on the web.
  • Podcasting: Publishing scheduled and syndicated multimedia content on the web.
  • Social Media: Online marketing and community building.
  • SEO: (Search Engine Optimization) The process of making a site search engine friendly through code and content. Modern term for developing a site for search engine attention and distribution, aka marketing.
  • Web Publishing: Publishing on the web, sharing multimedia content in the virtual community.
  • Syndication: The distribution of content on the web through feeds.
  • Blog: A blog is a website with content displayed in reverse chronological order.

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Google+ Hangouts For 30 Clicks

The story of Google+ Hangouts begins with Google Talk, a competitor to Skype and other Voice-Over-Internet Services. As technology developed, Google experimented with a variety of web-based collaborative systems, including Google Docs, their free alernative to Microsoft Office, and the innovative Google Wave.

Google Wave brought live conversation to the online collaboration experience. People could work on a document together, share their screen, watch videos, and create artwork together. It was a chance to create preserved documentation of their real-time collaboration.

It failed.

Promoted as the “replacement for email” and “the future of online collaboration,” while it had the tools Google assumed people wanted, it didn’t meet expectations. Many lessons were learned by Google and the tech community from the failure, including how not to over-hype expectations for your product, how not to launch prematurely, and don’t expect people to know what to do with it when they finally gain access.

Google took the knocks and lessons learned from Google Wave, Google Buzz, and Google Docs and applied them to the successful Google+ social media network, which incorporates all of the Google products into one umbrella platform, including the collaborative tool called Google+ Hangouts.

Google+ and Google+ Hangouts are now revolutionizing the world of online communication, especially for the educational industry. Continue reading

Creating a Blogging, Social Media, and Editorial Calendar and Schedule

Nothing to blog about on picture of desert sandsSportsBusiness Journal has one. So does eSchool Media Marketing, GeneaBloggers Genealogy Blog, SheKnows Magazines, and REALTOR® Magazine. Not only do they have one, they redo it every year. What could these very diverse companies have in common? An editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar is critical for the online publisher and web worker today. In traditional media, an editorial calendar was the year planned out in advance on editorial topics, articles, themes, article series, and events. Today, the editorial calendar goes even further covering social media, marketing, advertising, and virtual and direct social interaction. Whether for the individual blogger or a company, an editorial calendar sets goals and deadlines to keep you on track.
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Publishing Responsibilities: I’m Responsible for What I Say

I am responsible for what I say. I am not responsible for what you understand.

This is going around the web and it’s a powerful statement:

I am responsible for what I say.
I am not responsible for what you understand.

It’s a simplified version of:

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Robert McCloskey

Yet, it goes much further.

How does this relate to social media and web publishing?

The Social Media Firehose

A while ago I ran across the Yahoo Pipes Social Media Fire Hose, a script written with Yahoo Pipes by Joseph Kingsley. If you want to track yourself, your blog, your brand, or any keyword or phrase across the web, especially by social media sites, this is the tool for you.

The Yahoo Pipes Social Media Fire Hose searches across Twitter, Flickr, Friendfeed, Digg, various search engines, and even includes blog comments. It creates a custom feed you can then add to your feed reader.

Originally created for public relations, advertising, and marketing tracking across the online social networks and media, this is a great way to find out what others are saying about you and your blog, your brand, or anything. I’ve been using it to track information on WordPress such as WordPress Tips, WordPress Plugins, and WordPress Themes, as well as my name, blog name, and URL and feedback from various blogs I work for and with.

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Creating a Social Marketing Strategies Map

The following are discussions and examples of creating a social media marketing strategies map.

The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas

Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas v3

The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas was one of the earliest models for helping to visualize the conversations that define the social web.

Created originally in August of 2008, it has been updated several times as social media networks and trends have changed.

The prism chart is a bit hard to see on a web page, so let’s break it down into digestible parts.

Inside the Chart

conversation prism by brian solis and jesse thomas v2The original version one and two of the Conversation Prism spelled out strategies for business communication and the social web. It bears highlighting as part of our conversation on marketing within the social web.

Version 3, shown at the top, removes the center strategies, focusing totally on listening. Many businesses don’t “get” what listening really means when it comes to the social web.

The Brand is the core of the circular chart representing the end goal: marketing the brand. From this, all things branch out as the goal must be served by the actions within the social web.

Wrapped around the inner Brand circle is a ring, called a halo, listing: Observation, Listening, Identification, Internalization, Prioritization, and Routing. These are the definitions of observing, listening, or participating in social media.

The next halo represents the “intersection of all public facing departments,” which is the business departments or titles to create a social media Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy. They include Customer or Product Support, Product and Sales, Marketing/PR, Community, Corporate Communications, Crisis, and Support.

Halo three is described as the completion of the conversational workflow powered by “continual rotation of listening, responding, and learning online and in the real world.” It is represented by ongoing feedback and insight, participation, online and real world relationships and communication.

The outer part of the circle highlights the specific social media services sorted by subject matter and interest such as Questions and Answers found through Quora and LinkedIn, and Wikis with Wikipedia, TWiki, Wika, and other wiki-based sites and services.

This chart and others are available through The Conversation Prism Store.

US Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment

Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment v2

Source: Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment (PDF)

The Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment was created by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency’s Emerging Technology Division to create a flow chart path for responding to comments in social media and blogs. While designed for blogs and blog comments, it works across all social networks and online and off-line communications. It’s caught the attention of the social media industry as a solid strategy that businesses should consider when training their staff handling web communications and marketing and establishing clear communication guidelines.

The chart is divided into four areas: Discover, Evaluate, Respond, and Response Considerations. In reality, it covers three areas, Discovery, Evaluation, and Response, as Response Considerations are part of the evaluation.

In general, the chart explains comment responses:

  1. Before responding, consider the source of the response and their attitude and objectives.
  2. Decide how to respond based upon the attitude and objectives of the commenter.
  3. Write the response in consideration of tone, influence, timeliness, transparency, and sourcing (justification and evidence).
  4. Evaluate response and continued conversation, if any, for future considerations and actions.

Among the response options are to monitor only (let the comment stand but take no immediate action), respond with facts to fix the commenter’s falicies or support the original position, respond with a solution to rectify the situation and restore calm and reasonable perspectives, and to reinforce your position positively by “sharing success” and restating your story and mission.