Saturday, October 23

Ranking Content: Fresh Content Providers, Third Quarter

Fresh Content ProvidersThis is the third quarter that Copywrite, Ink. has published a snapshot of its year-long experiment called the Fresh Content Project, which puts popularity to the test.

We track more than 250 blogs, daily, and pick a single standout post per day (with weekend posts spilling into Monday). There is no algorithm. It's a human decision-making process, one that considers content and context. And sometimes we promote solid posts beyond the pick of the day because this isn't a contest.

If you have missed any posts along the way, you can find them in one of two places, with weekly recaps of why the posts stood out on this blog under Fresh Content Project or on Facebook, where the links are provided without commentary.

There were 36 Fresh Content providers in the first quarter. There were 38 Fresh Content providers in the second quarter. And this time around, July 1 to Sept. 30, we found 39.

Some names are new. Some names appear with surprising frequency. Some names aren't here this time. There isn't much to speculate about. Likewise, if the ranking has changed or if they were included before, it doesn't mean they are any less of an author. Anyone in any quarter deserved to be included (and there are plenty not listed that deserve to be here too).

So, below are 39 communication-related professionals who wrote Fresh Content picks in the third quarter of 2010. While some are suited for specific tastes, the top of this list (those who were picked more than once) ought to be in your reader.

All of them represent some of the freshest, most relevant content related to communication. And, we look forward to reading more of their fresh content in the next quarter along with even more new and fresh faces. The comments are yours.

39 Fresh Content Communicators By Quality Of Content

1. Valeria Maltoni bills herself as someone who brings people together, but she is much more than that. The Conversation Agent continues to blend business and communication, offering up what communicators and marketers need to know as opposed to what they want to hear. More often than not, Maltoni's post make you think.

2. Ike Pigott consistently demonstrates the difference between quality vs. quantity. He's one of the few people who doesn't write for search engines and social juice. He just writes, making Occam's RazR a well-crated experiment in analogies that stick. Read him if you like to think.

3. Since Geoff Livingston started writing his second book, his personal blog has shifted much more toward a topic he understands better than most. While he has a passion for causes, Livingston cuts through the popularity equations with common sense. He takes his arguments to people rather than waiting for them to come around.

4. Ian Lurie has been doing something few people who understand SEO ever do. He pokes holes in prominent theories that more SEO specialists use to fluff themselves up. Seriously, almost every SEO specialist I've ever met practically smirks and winks when they talk about putting people on the first page. On Conversational Marketing, he uses the same SEO tools to prove why they're wrong.

5. When it comes to subjects nobody else wants to touch, Bob Conrad is quick to deliver. You don't always have to agree with every argument at The Good, The Bad, The Spin, but you will find any conversational topic well considered with a fresh perspective. Conrad first appeared on Fresh Content as a rule breaker, and nowadays you might consider him one of the fearless few too.

6. What marketers sometimes forget is that the more you delve into social connections, the more you're really talking about psychology. Roger Dooley continues to dazzle with some of the best studies that consider human behavior on the one-to-one and one-to-many scale. Neuromarketing needs to be on the must-read list of any student.

7. Not every post tossed up on the Social Media Explorer is written by Jason Falls anymore. In fact, many of his contributing writers have been newly added to the Fresh Content Project. However, make no mistake, any time Falls sets out to write something unpopular, it will shed light on black hat tactics that other people want to quietly take advantage of.

8. Leave It To Weaver is an eclectic mix of art, business, common sense, communication, employment, and anything else that happens to strike Andrew Weaver. Such a mixed bag won't always attract the most usual suspects, but that is what makes the reading fresh. You never know what to expect, but it will almost never be what everyone else is talking about.

9. Communications Conversations by Arik Hanson features standout contributions over the last few months that include a case study that recaps what works with proximity online marketing and how not to conduct blogger outreach. He contributes more, much more than that.

10. Social media strategist Mike Schaffer frequently infuses his fascination with pop culture into lessons for social media pros and business communicators alike at The Buzz by Mike Schaffer. He also happens to be one of the shrinking pool of advocates for strategies ahead of tactics. Follow his blog for short, punchy content with a pop culture communication twist and some surprisingly deep insight now and again.

11. Sometimes people cringe when they see picks that include Chris Brogan, especially in that he seems to be opting into a Seth Godin-like approach, with shorter posts spilling out at a higher frequency (sometimes infused with video). However, the flip side of the coin is that he sometimes strikes a chord with simple wisdom on how to do things. Chris Brogan adds value when you look for it.

12. Brian Solis also has a blog I've been told is past prime. And yet, the Brian Solis blog, once or twice every few months, offers up some of the most comprehensive study recaps. He makes it much easier for other people to be able to build upon those results. If there is a downside, it's only that Soils is sometimes caught up in the quantifiable measurement game. Others are welcome to disagree.

13. Rob Reed, the founder of Max Gladwell, doesn't have a personal Twitter account that I know of, but you can follow the agency's stream. Lately, he has been focused mostly on the future of communication as it pertains to mobile. It's smart to read him for this reason alone. One addition to his thinking: While most people think of mobile as phones, it really means the future of all devices.

14. Although John Bell works in public relations, you're likely to find a taste of advertising agency thinking too at his blog, Digital Influence Mapping Project. That stands to reason as Bell is part of the Ogilvy team. But what makes him someone to add to your reader is simpler than that. There are very few people in social media that understand the agency perspective.

15. Beth Harte had temporarily cut back on blogging a few months ago, but has since picked up the pace at The Harte Of Marketing. There you will find someone who shares a belief in the integration of traditional and "modern" communication. Her approach comes from a career of understanding the classical tenets of marketing, which some people still struggle with.

16. Adam Singer continues to expand on his offerings at The Future Buzz, including keen corrections when colleagues offer an analysis that misses the mark. We need more of it. Anything that helps bridge the gap between business and communication is welcome, given tomorrow's communicator will need an increasingly aggressive multi-disciplined approach to everything.

17. You won't find Ann Barcelos writing feverishly at Ten24. But when she does contribute to Spin Sucks, you'll want to take some time to read. The post that caught our eye this cycle touched on behavioral groups. She also co-moderator of #IMCChat on Twitter.

18. Also writing a guest post for Spin Sucks was Len Kendall, who is better known for sharing content from The3Six5's Posterous. There he tends to blend communication with a confessional bent. However, what you might not see is that he is deep in industry insight. Read his guest posts anywhere, and you'll know he's immersed.

19. Heather Rast was another surprise find via the new mutliple-author approach at Social Media Explorer. She also writes her own blog at Insights & Ingenuity. If you follow her blog, expect to find an emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. Given that social media tends to be a one-to-many-to-one conversation, it might make sense to pay attention.

20. Although the new pop-up on the site is a killer, Jeff Bullas continues to infuse plenty of posts with moment-to-moment insights on Internet and social network trends and what they might mean. What makes that work for is the insight. While anyone can recap a report, not everyone can make those reports meaningful. Bullas does.

21. The Social Media Scientist Dan Zerrella always presents some fascinating reads, especially because he tests them. Sometimes they might seem routine, such as when is the best time to share a post on Facebook (although I'm not certain about that one). Other times, they are riveting because they prove that the number of "followers" doesn't mean anything in terms of click-through rates.

22. Rachel Kay doesn't write many posts. But when she does, it's fully thought out, casual, and comfortable. We're still talking about her Twitter Earthquake post. Another post worth mentioning is her take on killer cover letters for job applicants. If you follow her, expect the occasional great read because she only publishes now and again.

23. We caught Mike Cassidy in transition, so we are still getting used to his new digs at Leadership … For Good. There is a much heavier emphasis on nonprofit communication and leadership. We caught some of his best work as a guest blogger for Convince & Convert.

24. Jed Hallam is continuing to offer some worthwhile conversations via Rock Star PR. One of the aspects that makes his writing fresh is Hallam tends to ask the right questions, which also seem to be those that nobody else is asking. He can do it because he successfully blends the data with real life interactions.

25. Lee Odden is best known for TopRank and his ability to focus in on trends and then provide some strategic SEO thinking on why the approach might or might not work. Recently, for example, he tackled the irritating concept of duplicate content sites, a tactic that some believe help them achieve better SEO results. They don't. Much like Hallam, Odden recognizes that it's more important to consider the people using search engines than the search engines themselves.

26. I have to be honest. As much as I enjoy Copyblogger, the tried and true format sometimes wears thin. So, perhaps it is that reason why when someone goes a bit deeper like Sean D’Souza did this cycle, it makes the blog all the more worthwhile. If you are going to follow someone at Copyblogger, make sure he makes the cut.

27. Lately, Francois Gossieaux has been posting link roundups at Emergence Marketing, but when he is a little less busy, he'll knock off some fresh content too. Consider his post talking about community and cautioning people against filling it with shills and shells who will never visit again. Smart stuff.

28. Any time someone gives the baseline communication a wake-up call — that companies are putting up content that is not engaging, participatory, or helpful — like Shane Kinkennon did, we take notice. He's right. The only reasons Websites don't feel relevant has nothing to do with the platform and everything to do with what is on it. You'll find more great content on his blog.

29. If I were handing out medals over who might make me smile with a headline, Jeremy Myers is free to move to the front of the line. Even today, when double checking links, I chuckled when I read "Online advertising isn't the problem. Crappy advertising is the problem." You'll find that post, along with several others that have been kept in the Fresh Content Pick reader, at Jeremy Myers.

30. Lisa Barone is another new addition for her Out Spoken. Originally, she caught our eye because of her hard stand against copy mills. It was needed, given that some people are starting to think that luring consumers to a site is more important than giving them anything of value. Since adding her to the list, we've noted several more good ideas. And you will too.

31. Best known as the quieter coauthor of Trust Agents is Julien Smith's In Over Your Head. Interestingly enough, he landed here for advice given to Mitch Joel. While the advice is solid from a formulaic approach, Smith forgets that people read Joel because he is Joel. As long as Joel doesn't succumb to the pressure of popularity, the advice is sound for people who care about such things. Still, Smith's advice cannot be dismissed outright. He has a point, perhaps not for Joel, but for other people struggling to find a voice.

32. Jay Ehret aka The Marketing Guy on Twitter offers up increasingly bite-sized bits of advice that make sense for the small business owner. His favorite subject at The Marketing Spot is branding, but there is enough diversity beyond that. Occasionally, he writes about our least favorite tactics, like tricks to get your posts in top news on people's Facebook pages, but otherwise we love his big picture stuff.

33. Kami Huyse has been contributing to social media with a public relations perspective via Communications Overtones for some time. Lately, she has been focused on various social media measurement models that include our longstanding view that outcomes matter (and so does brand equity). We picked up one her posts as a fresh pick, after she applied her thinking to a case study centered around CitizenGuif.

34. Duct Tape Marketing has seemed a little sparse lately, but most people know to expect some great advice from John Jantsch now and again. The one we caught this cycle centered in on the content of a "thank you" page and how most companies don't consider that this brief bit of communication could add value for the customer and the company. It might seem obvious, but that is the point.

35. The primary posts to look for on the Web Strategy blog by Jeremiah Owyang are any where he shares matrix maps or comprehensive in-house studies. Beyond that, Owyang does a great job keeping tabs on moves within the industry. It might help you to know.

36. Louis Gray, author of approaches most of his posts more like a reporter. When there is a new study or newsworthy story with a tech/social media focus, you'll likely find some in-depth coverage and commentary. In the last cycle, he picked up on his coverage of real-time states for Blogger. It's no surprise he's already been featured as a Fresh Pick in the fourth quarter.

37. Reading the "final post" on ToughSledding by Bill Sledzik, some people took pause in the realization that Sledzick still has work to do online. The good news is that his final post is a work in progress. What you can expect are plenty of great lessons with long gaps between writings. He brings plenty of common sense to the table, including a healthy reminder that few truths in social media actually originate there.

38. Sometimes, sharing the right information at the right time is enough. And that is how I (heart) SOCIAL MEDIA landed in the Fresh Pick pile this time around, offering up an infographic on how to quick start a social media program for business. It's not perfect, but good enough that I plan to incorporate it in an upcoming class. You can find the blog author, Marta Majewska, on Twitter too. Of course.

39. While her old blog is no more, Amber Naslund is still creating and repurposing on the rebranded Brass Tack Thinking. One of the best of the bunch was in early July, warning people away from the looniness of the Fast Company Influence Project. Brass Tack is still a fine blog, with a little more emphasis on self-development as it pertains to online community managers.
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