The plan for my next 1-1-1 Express Book Review was to review Kristina Halvorson’s “Content Strategy for the Web,” but Tim Nekritz did such a good job in his review that I’ll just skip it and go straight to the next book on my list: Clout by Colleen Jones.
I first heard about this book (and actually its author, Colleen Jones) on Twitter as I was following the #contentstrategy hashtag. It was published only a few weeks ago.
I’ve read it cover to cover as I was looking for possible text book candidates. I’m currently designing a MBA course about social media campaigns for a university and will teach it online this summer. I haven’t made a final decision for the class, but Clout is definitely a strong contender.
So, here’s the 1-1-1 Express Review for Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content by Colleen Jones
- 1 thing I liked
There are several things I like in this book.
First, it focused on something which is really going to be more and more at the core of any web, communication and marketing professionals’ job in higher education: influential content. With everybody and their grandmother creating content to market their businesses, products, services or causes, the Web and social media have become crowded places — even in higher education. As a result “some content” just won’t cut it anymore.
I get at least two emails every night (I guess the work must be outsourced in India) by folks offering to write posts about college topics for this blog. All these individuals work for websites in the business of selling leads to for-profit universities. Obviously, the goal is to attract as many qualified readers as possible to those websites. Since my blog includes “college” in its title, it is an easy target for this content marketing tactics. What I’m trying to say is that influential content targeted to prospective students is produced and optimized by your direct competitors at a pace never reached before.
But, I’m disgressing, let’s get back to the book.
I like Clout because it teaches how and why to create influential content. I also love the fact that Colleen Jones takes the time to review the principles of rhetoric and psychology, principles at the heart of influential content, before mapping it all out and discussing practical tactics to develop influential content.
Last but not least, the book gets some brownies points because it includes 2 examples from higher education – about NC State University, which makes it a great tool to sell the idea to your boss. After a bit of investigative work, I’ve discovered that Colleen Jones is actually a distant member of our higher ed web family as NC State Web Communications Director, Tim Jones’ sister-in-law :-)
1 thing I didn’t like too much
This section is a bit of challenge with this book because it looks like I totally fell in love with it. So, I’m going to say that I’m not really fond of… the book cover – which was probably chosen to be a variation of the author’s business visual brand, but doesn’t make it a very energizing and appealing book cover.
But, that’s not a big deal since you should not judge a book by its cover ;-)
- 1 big take-away from the book
Influential Web content does require work and doesn’t just happen.
It can be crafted and engineered by using and following the principles of rhetoric and psychology at the different stage of the marketing funnel as shown in this chart on page 103.
You can also read the interview Todd Bennett has done with Colleen Jones.
Want to make your content work harder for your web and mobile websites?
Register for the Master Class by Colleen Jones: Influential Web Content for Higher Ed Websites (October 5, 2011) to learn the principles of compelling content for higher ed.