Sunday, January 16

Ranking Content: Fresh Content Providers, Fourth Quarter

Fresh Content ProvidersThis is the fourth and final 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 tracked more than 250 blogs, daily, and picked 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.

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; 38 Fresh Content providers in the second quarter; 39 Fresh Content providers in the third quarter; and 38 in the fourth.

If there was any noteworthy trend in the fourth quarter of the Fresh Content Project, it was the number of guest contributors chosen, some even writing a blog post for the first time. This may even be one of the lessons you can take away from the project. On any given day, almost anyone can provide some insights that are better than those at the top of any list.

Following are 38 communication-related professionals who wrote Fresh Content picks. While some are suited for specific tastes, the top of this list (those who were picked more than once) demonstrated unwavering consistency in writing something fresh. The comments are yours.

38 Fresh Content Communicators By Quality Of Content

1. Valeria Maltoni consistently provides topical articles about business and communication, which often translates into useful and applicable information. Recently, her content has taken a more conversational tone, but even with the shift in presentation the conversation opens more doors for consideration.

2. Nowadays Ike Pigott splits his posts between Occam's RazR and Social Media Explorer, which recently adopted a funky home landing page. No matter where you find his analogies and insights, expect crisp writing across a variety of topics.

3. Especially in December, Geoff Livingston excelled at turning popular communication topics on their head, sometimes blowing holes in concepts that are poorly constructed despite nagging popularity. Reading Geoff Livingston is one of a handful of places you can find a foil.

4. After following popular topics for months, Danny Brown broke away from the trappings of sameness to deliver several biting commentaries on the state of social media. Doing so helped us appreciate that reading Danny Brown can be educational and insightful anytime he rubs against the grain.

5. Ian Lurie is an independent thinker when it comes to choosing topics related to Internet marketing in that he doesn't seem to belong to or follow any social media-communication-marketing bubbles that exist. Personally, we found his blog, Conversation Marketing, one of the best discoveries since the Fresh Content project started.

6. Adam Singer blends web markering and public relations at The Future Buzz, including well-thought analysis on topics such as why independent bloggers have better blogs than their corporate blog counterparts. What you'll like best about his blog is his consistent approach to multi-discipline thinking.

7. Shel Holtz has been a mainstay in communication for as long as I can remember. His blog, A Shel Of My Former Self, remains a must-include among the communication offerings out there because he often provides a thoughtful commentary on what could be done better from a strategic standpoint. The only time he raises a cautionary flag is when he leans too heavily on "should" instead of could.

8. Louis Gray, author of LouisGray.com,
leans toward the technological side of communication, frequently infusing hardware along with the software and social networks that everyone else seems to cover. Add him to your reader to round out what communicators need to know to keep pace with change.

9. Jay Baer's Convince & Convert may be running a bit thinner since the release of his book, but there still is value to be found from time to time. Among his best thoughts in the fourth quarter is why Facebook could be hurting company web sites and why public relations firms are still struggling with social media. Conversely, Baer sometimes writes from both sides of the fence.

10. You would see much more from Bob Conrad if he didn't have a day job. But that is also why The Good, The Bad, The Spin is one of the best examples of why not all great communication blogs peak in popularity. He's too busy doing to be overly concerned with the promotion of it all.

11. If you haven't discovered that some understanding of psychology and sociology has become increasingly important in communication, spend more time with Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley. He's tapped one of the least understood aspects of communication and marketing, stuff we only cover occasionally around here.

12. It's great to see Beth Harte adding more content to the communication conversation again. The Harte Of Marketing nearly slipped from the radar for nothing more than time management, but Harte has recently added more worthwhile content, with an emphasis on strategy.

13. Didi Lutz is one of the newer voices we were introduced to in the fourth quarter for a contribution to Spin Sucks. She is one of several people in the fourth quarter who prove you don't necessarily have to have a blog to have great ideas.

14. John Bell works on the public relations side at Ogilvy, but consistently provides public relations pros with a taste of advertising. Digital Influence Mapping Project delivers on the promise of 360-degree thinking, which will likely be one of the lessons learned from this year-long experiment.

15. Heather Rast, writing for Social Media Explorer, seems to have been inspired to write deeper and more meaningful content than when we were first introduced to her in the third quarter. On her own blog, Insights & Ingenuity, there is a greater emphasis on marketing and branding from an operational perspective that we found even richer and more enjoyable.

16. Gini Dietrich and Spin Sucks deserve props for two reasons this quarter. In addition to providing several worthwhile contributions to the field, Spin Sucks introduced more hard-hitting guest authors than any other multi-author site this time around. While it sometimes waffles back and forth between idle and instructional, you can always count on good content.

17. Based in New York, Peter Himler doesn't provide nearly as much content as he used to on The Flack, sharing short content and video embeds instead. However, every few months he writes a post that resonates in helping people understand some of the changes taking place in the profession.

18. Doug Davidoff, CEO of Imagine Business Development, is another Spin Sucks contributor who demonstrates why communicators need to pay attention not only to what their peers say but also their employers. If you are not thinking about business, then you're not really thinking is one bit of advice that could be pulled from his contributions there.

19. Although Ben Decker and Kelly Decker are two people, it was their joint post on the top ten best and worst communicators of the year that earned some well-deserved attention in the fourth quarter. In fact, it is the occasional long-format addition to the Decker blog that will convince you to keep it in the reader.

20. Jason Falls has been hard pressed lately while he tries to balance being an author and an editor/manager on Social Media Explorer, but there is little doubt that he understands social media more than most. The transition probably hasn't been easy, and by now Falls has probably learned that multi-author blogs are harder to manage than writing most posts yourself.

21. Kami Huyse continues to offer up the occasional breakthrough post at Communications Overtones. With sixteen years of experience, it's no surprise that her thoughts on outcome-related measurement are among the best in the business, especially while many focus on counts that don't lead anywhere.

22. Erin Greenfield may be a student, but her contribution to Waxing UnLyrical demonstrates how sometimes the best lessons come not from years of experience but rather the single experience of learning the hard way. Her inclusion also proves that on any given day, someone who writes their first blog post can outshine every other contribution.

23. Adam Vincenzini's writing is sometimes a little rough around the edges, but we still consider COMMSCorner to be one of those blogs that we wish we had been tracking longer as part of the Fresh Content lists. His thinking is fresh, not always overburdened by the challenges other communicators seem to struggle with.

24. Jason Keath, who is the founder of a social media education company, offers up his problem-solving insights that tend to be a blend of applying some of the new tools emerging within the space. He also keeps up on several innovations and interesting campaigns that work hard to bridge the gap between online and offline worlds. You can find his blog here.

25. It's hard not to appreciate social media insights from Jeff Bullas and his blog. Lately, however, there has been a bit of a shift as Bullas has become somewhat more enamored by his success and is starting to offer a lot more "me" content than we've seen previously. No worries. He'll likely get back on track this year.

26. Pamela Wilson is one of several contributors to Copyblogger who has expressed some keen insight into myth-busting, especially as it pertains to online design and search engines. What we like best about Wilson is that she thinks beyond design being pretty and more about it enhancing communication and generating outcomes (usually purchases). She's one to watch. We wish she had her own blog.

27. Dave Fleet has hosted Conversations At The Intersection Of Communications, PR And Social Media for some time. And, like many longtime communication bloggers, he has significantly reduced his postings over time. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does make us miss when he was much more active in the space.

28. Priya Ramesh is the director of social media for CRT-tanaka who helps keep the venerable BuzzBin alive by infusing some common sense into social media. Several times in the fourth quarter, Ramesh has offered reminders that the best place to start with social media is by conducting an audit in order to provide a better benchmark.

29. Christina Arno joins one of several dozen guest bloggers who turned our heads in the fourth quarter. Her post on the Jeff Bullas blog resonated in that if companies hope to grow globally, they really ought to start considering translations that help people all over the world understand content.

30. There may be a bit of sensationalized writing at the Blogging Bookshelf sometimes, but Tristan Higbee is a sharp thinker and a seasoned blogger. Like many communication-related bloggers in the fourth quarter, we were happy to discover him as a guest writer for one of more than 250 blogs we were tracking.

31. While Captains of Industry seems to have lost some steam last year, Ted Page, chief creative director, wrote just enough worthwhile content to hold our interest. Among them was an insightful interview with musician Kevin Connolly that demonstrates why communication can stand to learn from a variety of seemingly unrelated disciplines.

32. It's hard to fathom anyone not including ReadWriteWeb in their reader. In the fourth quarter, the one author there that caught our attention was Audrey Watters, who is a little less known than many of her colleagues but no less prolific. Most often she approaches content like a reporter, which is frequently a refreshing change against the backdrop of opinions.

33. Brian Solis continues to do a solid job at leveraging his presence to provide more in-depth analysis and reporting on various social networks that are emerging in the social media space. Having read Brian Solis for so long, the transition from his early roots in social media is as interesting as his best posts.

34. Taylor Lindstrom is another contributing author (and editor) for the well-known Copyblogger. She doesn't write there all that often, but it's always interesting when she does. Among our favorites in the fourth quarter was her take on why writing doesn't need to be difficult (even if it isn't easy). She reminds people that good writing starts by writing something, anything.

35. Jorden Cooper is a professional stand-up comedian, which made it all the more enjoyable to discover that his thoughts on social media made more sense than many thoughts offered up by "social media experts." He sometimes lends welcome wit to Social Media Explorer.

36. The best reason to follow Jeremiah Owyang is the occasional comprehensive report he provides from the archives and analytics being done at the Alimeter Group. It doesn't happen very often, but you can make sure you capture one or two by subscribing to Web Strategy.

37. Lately, David Armano seems a little less like the David Armano that made many people read his work at Logic + Emotion. Part of the challenge seems to be that, much like Edleman, he is chasing the elusive (and nonexistent) influence metrics grail. He's best to read when he writes from his core: how design contributes to communication.

38. Although Mark Smiciklas has his own blog, it was his cross-posted content on Social Media Explorer that created an introduction of sorts. While we don't agree with every facet of his model, there is something to be said for starting to think about how online and offline communication might work better together.
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