The danger with following best practices without injecting the organization's culture and personality in content development and conversation strategy is that you could be swapping one logo for another and be none the wiser. You don't differentiate yourself from your competition.
Worse, you don't stand out and make an impression, which is a better word for being engaging.
What does good Web content look like? It's well written, is not afraid to show the personality of the organization it speaks for, and it carries value — information, knowledge, tips, things that make your experience better.
I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of my favorite Web content for inspiration.
What a hoot
This is from the about page at Woot.com. Woot FAQ: a discussion of ill-advised efficiencies, failed idealism, and trampled dreams.
Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability by 2043 – by then we should be retired; someone smarter might take over and jack up the prices. Until then, we're still the lovable scamps we've always been. But don't take our word for it: see what the online community has to say at this Wikipedia article.
The copy written at The Motley Fool is pretty accessible and it holds the site to its promise to educate, amuse, and enrich. From the about page, the company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king — without getting their heads lopped off.
Here is what they do:
The Motley Fool provides financial solutions for investors of every kind. Our products and services — whether free or fee-based, online or offline — are designed to help people take control of their financial lives.
The home page currently greets you with the 10 best stocks of 2010 headline. Under which, you find an approachable style for a sometimes and to too many people still, hard to comprehend, topic.
I'm always on the lookout for the next home run stock. At the end of each year, I like looking back to see what I can learn from the past year's best and worst performing stocks. Let's take a sneak peek at this year's top performing tech stocks.
Be foolish and don't pass up an opportunity to learn something there.
Take your vitamins
I've used this page on Facebook to illustrate how a company can and should clear up confusion about its products in social media. Thank you very much for your questions, they say:
thank you very much for the questions – there has been a fair amount of chatter (including ours, to be fair) around the efforts of an activist group to convince a court and the media that you don’t know what you’re drinking when you drink vitaminwater.
guess what? vitaminwater is just what you think it is. a great tasting beverage. totally hydrating. packed with vitamins.
but wait, they say. it has SUGAR! CALORIES!
well, yes. vitaminwater does have both. it says it on the label. clear as the eye can see. just as the law requires. and for those who are more calorie conscious, we offer you a fabulous beverage option: vitaminwater zero.
so there you have it. choice. freedom. great taste. packed with vitamins.
but you knew that.
The note got 340 likes and dozens of positive comments back in August of this year. You may point out it's not sales copy… it is selling, and it does it conversationally, and simply. Take your vitamins, and choose the calorie free options, if you're so inclined.
This one was also suggested by @incognitosum, and for good reason. The value prop is clear, the calls to action at the bottom of the page are simple and compelling — join (RED) and help eliminate AIDS.
On the tactical side, what can you look for in your content to be more engaging and successful? Here's a quick checklist:
- in addition to writing good content, you want to use unique titles and keywords so your page can be found by those who are looking for what you have
- test it to see whether when people come to your page they can find what they were looking for, and remember that time on the page may also mean they could not find it — you want people to complete tasks: order, subscribe, find out more, etc.
- provide links to deeper information and a call to action — like "I want one" in the screen shot above, contacting a sales rep, subscribing to a newsletter, finding out more, etc.
What are your favorite Web pages? What do you like about them?