I’ve been on vacation in Hawaii and was whale-watching the other day (shout-out to Captain Dan McSweeney and his crew for giving us an unbeatable view of the humpbacks off the shore of Big Island). We were a captive audience of 20 or so people, on the boat for three hours, learning about the whales and their environment, and they made sure to take advantage of that – not only did they offer us merchandise to help fundraise for whale research, but they passed around a clipboard offering us their complimentary e-newsletter so we can get updates on what the whales and their followers are up to.
It made me think: are we as publishers taking full advantage of our captive audience when building our lists? Sure, we may have newsletter sign-up forms on our sites and mention the newsletters in-mag, but what about other situations? For instance, if your publication has a tent at Word on the Street, you should also have a computer set up so people can get your (complimentary!) newsletter. Hosting an event? Again, set up a computer, or at the very least have a sign-up sheet people can write on. The best way to develop an email list of readers engaged in your product is to take every opportunity to remind them of how it will benefit them, and to make it easy for them to sign up. (Not sure why you should be building a database of email addresses? Find out why your site/publication needs a newsletter.)
I saw a presentation at work last week by Guillaume Bouchard of NVI Solutions and he shared a video with us that does a great job of communicating what Web 2.0 means. It’s by Michael Wesch, who studies and teaches cultural anthropology and digital ethnography at Kansas State University. To view it, click through to YouTube.
A very cool service I recently discovered (hat tip possibly to @mdash but I’m not sure) is dailylit.com, which chops books into quickly digestible chunks and emails them to you (you can subscribe via RSS too) on whatever schedule you request: every weekday morning, for instance.
I’d been meaning to reread War and Peace for ages, but really, when do you get around to that kind of thing? Now I get a piece emailed to me every evening and I’ll be done by the end of the year. A long time to read a book, sure, but it’s in a few minutes a day, not several hours every week or two. Plus, it’s War and Peace.
Daily Lit offers classics (i.e. pre-copyright) for free and charges for newer books—about $3 to $7, it looks like. It’s an interesting business model and a creative (yet quite old-fashioned, I suppose, if you ask Dickens) way to repackage books.
Last week, Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion shared his five reasons that text is still “king of the web” – over other formats such as video. One is an idea we should all keep top of mind (especially as most of us live it): a pretty large percentage of your site visitors are viewing from work, where they’re a lot less likely to watch a video and more likely to be looking for specific information to scan through (or entertaining distractions, but that’s another post).
Rubel makes a very good point if you do have video: make sure to surround it with quality keyword-rich text. It’s how Google’s going to find your video, and it’s how people are going to know what it’s about without watching it.
Generally in the magazine world, if content is shared across platforms it goes from print to web – rarely, with the exception of letters and some user-generated content, does it go the opposite direction. But magculture.com brings up a very cool example of exactly that: a printed collection of blog posts called “Things our friends have written on the Internet 2008″. Go and check it out, it’s a creative idea and something you can take inspiration from for future multiplatform projects.
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