For most of my early career, all the people who were making content in the world around me were journalists. So, as often as not, the conversation ended up revolving around balance, objectivity, and other very evenhanded things.
Back then, the best thing you could say about a journalist was that he was objective.
Today, that's not a characteristic given much weight.
Instead, the question is - can you stand out, get noticed, make a splash?
This may not be journalism, but it most certainly is a core tenet of Web content creation.
Web sites live and die by the traffic they generate. And readers, who tend to travel in flocks, are drawn to things that are unique and have a compelling point of view. So, whether you are a blogger, a pastry chef or a CEO, you need to have a Web persona that can break through the clutter and get your message up and above the noise.
You need a voice.
Here's a quick checklist of characteristics that you can review to see how you're doing in building a Web persona and creating a meaningful impact with your Web voice.
1. Can you express a point of view that is unusual, controversial and conversation provoking?
Provoking interaction and engagement isn't easy - and if you're walking on eggshells as the leader of a controversial brand or product, that's even harder. But if you can't provoke interaction and generate an emotional trigger in your readers, you're likely to be relegated to the blog-heap of history... creating posts that don't get read, and fostering conversations that folks don't want to have and don't feel engage their passions.
2. Do your posts 'spark' a dialog?
The Web isn't a one way medium. So often the best personae in social media are the ones that are fire starters. While this may seem like it requires controversy, it's often something quite different. It may be posting a thought provoking question - or simply launching a conversation that is ready to take flight. It does require you to be current in your areas of expertise, and often both deeply and quickly read in the areas that you what to impact. For example, a blog post about a political topic that is current can spark a conversation, whereas a blog post about a topic from days ago can fall flat. Speed to publish, and a willingness to correct and update posts as new information emerges is critical.
3. Can you push back?
Often, conversations on the Web are already in progress when you find them. Can you take a stand that is counter to the popular or rising tide and raise issues and alternative points of view that keep the ball in the air. This is sometimes scary (it's easier to agree with the crowd than to debate the crowd), but to be able to raise a worthwhile counterpoint is a powerful position that often represents significant thought leadership.
4. Can you admit when you're wrong?
The risk of being out front is that sometimes you find that you're simply wrong. Admitting that, and rolling back your argument or position when faced with facts that undermine your core position is a powerful and often surprising thing to do.
5. When you're standing in the front of the room - does it fill up?
The thing about the Web is that no one knows if you're a dog. So you can be whoever you want to be. And you can test different voices and styles until you get to one that works for you. What that means is that you can try on your version of Mark Cuban, and if that doesn't work you shift to Chris Brogan or maybe Stephanie Agresta. They all have powerful and different Web personalities that keep their voices front and center in the conversation. So don't feel locked in to a single voice, explore and experiment till you find a good fit.
Steven Rosenbaum is the CEO and Co-Founder of Magnify.net - a fast-growing video publishing platform that powers more than 50,000 web sites, media companies, and content entrepreneurs to aggregate and curate web video from a wide variety of web sources. Currently Magnify.net publishes over 50,000 channels of Curated-Consumer Video, and is working closely with a wide variety of media makers, communities, and publishers in evolving their content offerings to include content created by, sorted and reviewed by community members. Rosenbaum is a serial entrepreneur, Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker, and well known innovator in the field of user-generated media production. Rosenbaum Directed and Executive Produced the critically acclaimed 7 Days In September, and his MTV Series Unfiltered is widely regarding as the first commercial use of Consumer Generated Video in US mass media. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/magnify
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