How Best to Create Topical Content

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Creating topical content seems relative easy, simply see what news is trending and blog about it. However, like most things in life it’s not that simple.

Target the sexy topics

Take a popular topic such as Bitcoin and mix it with the topic of the site such as here with Ecigarettes and Bitcoin. Bitcoin has been covered extensively by the mainstream media recently. Before that is was avidly talked about on social media and even before that it generated lots of content on specialist websites.

Where there is conversation and news around a popular subject there is a potential to pick up links and social signals. Of course it’s become far easier to pick up social signals these days than links as blog owners are savvy about the value of their linkage. However, an authority blog would never simply link because of payment and would do so along the lines that the content is both useful and interesting to its readers.

The content should not take advantage of tragedy

Producing content around human misery is for proper news organisations, not marketing types, as discovered here by Hubspot with their now removed 5 Hurricane Sandy Newsjacks from Marketers. Newsjacking is similar to reblogging or curating topical content however is better described when it is creating an additional element of news such as I did here with the Bongo Bongo Land Newsjack. Where the additional element of a pair of bongos was introduced to the story. Any newsjacking is made more effective if an offline element is introduced.

The content has to have some connection with your core subject.

Back in the old days you could simply throw up any kind of content on a well linked to website and have it rank. But Google is continually investing in contextually correct information in their search results, Hummingbird is the latest iteration of this goal, but it is ongoing and has been in continual operation for many years. Rand Fiskin of Moz has an interesting take on Hummingbird. Most seo bloggers seem somewhat shocked that Google is constantly improving their results, but Google has been focused on producing better results for many years now. Which is why content has to be contextually correct. At a stretch you could blog about something like, How much is Twitter worth on a website dedicated to saving people money and the cost of things.

Feed your rabid fans

Content should be geared towards your fans, of whom you should know what kind of content that gets them excited. As long as your core fans are happy. If you are in the keep fit niche, make sure you create content which appeals to your core fans, as this content about How a Tough Guy can test fitness, which not only appeals to the core fans of this website, but also offers useful, interesting information for a wider group of people. With the Tough Guy race

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Why your web content production needs to establish an Edginess Index

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I create a lot of content for clients and run into the same issues over and over. One problem is that the kind of content that gets results has an edge to it, but the client usually does not want content that has an edge to it, they just want to sell stuff.

Nothing wrong with wanting to just sell stuff.

However, magnetic content, content that attracts tends to be edgy content.

For example, if you are a client in the niche of “home lighting”, I may suggest an article along the lines of “Top ten lighting rigs to power your Cannabis Farm“.

I probably wont, but I am using this extreme example to illustrate the point. Of course the article still has to be written in a certain style whcih attracts the social movers and shakers and linkerati, to be deemed a winner.

Most business people do not live in my weird and wonderful world of online content creation, and so do not understand why approaching content in a counter intuitive way is sometimes essential.

So, it’s useful if we have an Edginess Index.

This is to gauge how edgy to make the content on a scale of 1 to 10.

Here is my Edginess Index:

1 = Local Govt publications
2 = Local newspaper
3 = Beano
4 = 2000AD
5 = TV Quick
6 = Top Gear
7 = FHM
8 = Sun/ Daily Mail
9 = Nuts
10 = XXXXXXXXXXX

Note: This is for the UK market specifically.

1. The most anodyne, mundane, safe copy I have ever read is that of local government publications. The stuff that tells you how to put your rubbish out etc. Useful if you need to know how to put rubbish out.

2. Local newspapers tend to be written by numbers, local jumble sale info, cat stuck in tree, man buys pork pie etc. It’s safe, useful as it tells you what’s going on and interesting if your in your area someone who kidnaps cats and sells them to the local butcher to kill and put into sausages has just been arrested.

3. The Beano is a comic for 6 to 12 year olds, although I still read it occasionally and enjoy it. The tone of the content is child friendly but fun. It’s a little mischievous with kids getting into scrapes and high jinx, it’s no Horrid Henry but it definitely appeals to the rebel in every child. In a way, it resonates wrong doing but in a way that a child can understand.

Most web content tries to get to this tone, but fails becoming more boring than a house brick.

4. 2000AD is the comic for 13 upwards, at least it was when I would read it religiously. It’s a lot more gritty than the Beano and deals with more grown up concepts, but no swearing, nudity or sex, but plenty of aliens getting fragged and Judge Dredd going around saying “I am the law”. Yes I am a fan.

5. TV Quick or any of those “by the counter tabloids”, is safe enough to sell at the supermarket checkout, but edgy enough to attract the attention and initiate the impulse part of the brain of an interested reader. It does sometimes contain articles like, “I was so fat I even ate the sofa”, kind of articles, but mostly it’s stuff that tickles your gran. There are about ten of these types of publications on the supermarket shelf and so a fair sized market.

If you took out the headlines and put them on a plain white page, they would seem shocking, but by making the colours of the mag soft and pleasing with pretty people and no gore, they are able to sell the, “I ate my neighbours dog baby”, type stories.

6. Now we are starting to get into the, “it may offend someone” category. Although not as offensive as the raw throat pipe of Mr Jeremy Clarkson, but it still does have that frisson of excitement. For example, “The first car I had sex in”, may be an article. Not talking about the bits and bobs you understand, but more the automotive angle, and so is less edgy than it seems.

7. FHM however, is as edgy as it seems. Offending a good portion of people, and yet attracting a sizable audience. Does not shy away from a bit of raw, bodily fluid type humour, but pulls back before you feel all dirty. I’m really talking about the articles, not the pictures.

In all of these content producers I am talking about the “tone” of the content, not the specific content itself, but what it represents and how many people it may offend.

8. Sun/Daily Mail website. These are British content producers, not sure what it would be in your locale. These contain highly offensive material, so much so that they regularly arouse the anger of a lot of people. These are at number 8 because of the amount of people that find them offensive, conversely they are insanely successful.
Very few of my business clients would want to be associated with articles such as “Freddie Star ate my hamster”. But this is what more people like to read and consume than most other publications.
The point is, these publications go out to offend and to bait people into a response. One only has to observe how the Mail handled the Samantha Brick situation. Which is a fascinating case to analyse and one we had a lot of fun with on Linkbait Coaching

9. Nuts. These porn dressed as “lads mags” are able to get into a lot of UK supermarkets. It’s mix of raucous humor and sexual objectification of women would rate it extremely objectionable. Few mainstream linkbaiters would go to this level, but those who do still get links, but find they get a label they just can’t shake.

10. XXXXXXXXXXX is just too hot to handle. So offensive I can’t even repeat it here. Not a level I have ever gone up to, but it’s important to know it’s here and that it exists.

This stuff does get links, but from a more smaller bag of link possibilities.

So there we have it, the more edgy we go the less likely a client is going to want it on their website or used as a guest post on someone else’s. The ideal is probably somewhere in the middle. It is very useful to use an edginess index, I would advise creating your own, relative to clients understanding.

Most content stays safe, not because the publishers want to protect our morals, but it’s the cheapest, safest and quickest to publish. It is not the most effective though, a higher level of edginess works better and I am not just talking sexual edginess or even violent, sometimes it can be something that challenged the current consensus.

Linkbait tends to naturally have an edge, or at least it should do. Attractive can sometimes disrupt and unsettle, but it can also challenge.

When directing those to create content for you it’s important you establish a way to communicate just how far you want to go with the content.

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Batman Superman Newsjacking ideas

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So now we now it’s going to be happening.

Batman and Superman to team up in new film

Those who are into comic superheroes control some very tasty, online real estate. You absolutely want to get linked, mentioned, social shared, by these people.

It’s something I do for clients all the time, tap into the content sweetspot of the fan. Usually it’s a group that lives in a sub-pop culture as the success ratio to Google juice given is much higher than with mainstream blogs and websites.

But the Superman/Batman thing is interesting, as it’s more mainstream and we want to tap into the narrative a little differently, possibly a little more broad.

After all, there is already a massive amount of excellent content already around this two chaps. So we need to look at a different angle.

Lets play around with some ideas, feel free to join in.

10 Reasons Superman and Batman Running a Shoe Shop is not a good idea
Yes it’s absurd, but that’s the point. It gets attention, it has high humour potential. If you ran an online shop shop and you had a blog this is a headline that would get attention and get your keyword in. You could of course change “shoe shop” for any other regular, everyday kinda thing.

It’s the concept of holding up something from one world (a man who wears his underpants outside of his clothes and a fitness freak with a bat complex) against something from another world that we see everyday. We all wear shoes (OK, footwear) so we all have a connection to this.

It creates a narrative friction that people have to resolve by clicking through and ingesting the content. This is why it is attractive. It’s wrong and we need to resolve it.

Here are more in that theme:

10 Reasons why Superman and Batman should run a hotel
Why Superman is a cat person and Batman is a dog person
Pizza Delivery, who is faster? Batman or Superman
Would Superman ever drive a Bugatti Veyron? Batman would

You could quite easily intergrate most niches, however boring into this narrative structure, in fact the more boing the better, for example:

You would expect to see Superman at an Accounting Software convention, but not Batman

As I said, you can have a lot of fun with this.
This will be a subject that will be hot for a number of months, so it’s worth opening a file on the subject and start researching it.

This is an article from the forthcoming Newsjacking Alerts service

50 Design Inspirations for 8 types of Infographic

Have an idea for an infographic but don’t know where to begin with designing it?

Fear not!

With thanks to Lyndon, we’ve compiled an ultimate design resource for every imaginable type of infographic. Well, nearly every one.

Our blog post earlier this year, identified the 8 different types of infographics.

This is a list of 50 that we think deserve to be noted for their design, or certain aspects of them.

A visual list of infographic inspiration awaits…

 

The Visual Article

The Visual Article infographic is all about attracting the viewer immediately with the title and offering something more than just a written article. The content itself must be varied, interesting and plentiful so that readers do not come away disappointed.

 

1. Amsterdam: On Yer Bike – by easyJet Holidays

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2. A question of taste – by South China Morning Post

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3. 50 Unbelievable Facts about Earth – by Giraffe

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4. 50 Incredible Facts about Skin – by beautyflash

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5. Why Bill Gates is Better than Batman – by Frugal Dad

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6. 50 Insane Facts about Hair – by Hair Loss Geeks

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7. How to Control Your Dreams – by BedroomWorld

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The Flow Chart

Flow charts are successful for answering questions and when engaging the right audience do well on social media. The design of a flowchart prefers simple over cluttered and to make it worthwhile, there needs to be plenty of options so the viewer doesn’t feel forced into an overly narrow category. Tongue-in-cheek is common and a sense of humour is definitely a bonus!

 

8. Should  I Text Him? – by Becca Classon

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9. Which Infographic Should You Use? – by NeoMam Studios

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10. Star Wars Occupation Flowchart – by OnlineSchools

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11. I Want to Make a Horror Movie – by Canal+

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12. Are You Happy? – by Rick Webb

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13. Should Your Business be on Pinterest? – by Intuit

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Useful Bait

The useful bait does what it says and provides a useful resource to the viewer. Usability should be the priority with a straightforward design and content which is strictly relevant to the topic. When designing infographics like these it’s best to imagine them being printed out.

 

14. Gangnam Style The 5 Basic Steps – by Hugo A Sanchez

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15. Kitchen Cheat Sheet – by Everest

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16. Sitting is Killing You – by Medical Billing & Coding

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17. How to Train Yourself to Speed Read – by Mindflash

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18. Exceptional Expressions of Espresso – by Pop Chart Lab

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19. Pairing Wine & Food – by Wine Folly

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20. The Shelf Life of Food – by Visual.ly

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21. The Charted Cheese Wheel – by Pop Chart Lab

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Number Porn

Impressive numbers coupled with an engaging design make the ‘Number Porn’ infographic work. Numerical infographics boil down to a lot of numbers with little visualisation to aid comprehension. They are straightforward to produce but may lack a bit of imagination.

 

22. Titanic by the Numbers – by History.com

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23. Education by the Numbers – by Microsoft Education

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24. A Day in the Internet – by MBA Online

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25. Google: Behind the Numbers – by Business MBA

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The Timeline

The timeline shows a journey to the viewer and it must be important to them to be successful. Each element of a timeline infographic should be visualised, so it’s easy to see the progression and is visually stimulating.

 

26. The Road of the Future – by Carloan4u

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27. The Evolution of the Geek – by Flowtown

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28. The Evolution of Video Game Controllers – by Pop Chart Labs

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29. A History of Western Typefaces – by Mashable

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30. The History of Home Heating – by Global Home Improvements

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31. The Apple Tree – by Mashable

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Data Visualisation

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a data visualization is worth a thousand more.”

Data Visualisation is the bread and butter of the infographic world. A creative approach along with careful design can get great results and lead to placement on high-profile sites.

 

32. The Billion Dollar-o-Gram – by David McCandless

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33. Mission(s) to Mars – by Bryan Christie Design

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34. Fifty Years of Exploration – by National Geographic

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35. Snake Oil? by David McCandless

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36. The Big Numbers – by Rune Leth Anderson

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The Versus Infographic

Matching content to audience is crucial here. You need to consider what the audience care about and focus on two characters or concepts. A common feature of these infographics compares both differences and similarities. A little humour and stylised design are a must if they are to succeed.

 

37. Geek vs Hipster – by Geeks Are Sexy

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38. Messi vs Ronaldo – by Visual.ly

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39. A Tale of Two Meals – by Massive Health

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40. Beef versus Horse – Guardian Digital Agency

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41. How Being a Liberal or Conservative Shapes Your Life – by David McCandless

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42. Serif vs Sans – The Final Battle – by Urban Fonts

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43. Woof vs Meow – What Our Furry Pets Reveal About Us – by Hunch

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The Photo Infographic

Arguably the hardest to produce, these infographics need quality photographs and a well thought out design to come off as professional looking. When done right though, these infographics are visually arresting and provide a unique way to display information.

 

44. Dining Etiquette 101 – by Sun Sentinel

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45. The Simpsons, South Park and Ninja Turtles LEGOs – by Jung Von Matt

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46. Know Your Poop – by Raj Kamal

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47. The Evolution of a Hipster – by Paste  Magazine

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48. Fat or Fiction – by Fat or Fiction

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49. Seven Summits – by FFunction

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50. Refugees and Immigrants – by Peter Orntoft

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We hope these proved useful and let us know if you agree with our choices!

Compiled by Danny Ashton, founder of the infographic agency NeoMam Studios.