Online advertising comes full circle

As we look beyond a sort of a digital programmatic world that’s underpinned by cookies, it’s become really about audience. How do we reclaim some of the value that has always traditionally resided with publishers, which is about quality, context and trust? Once you begin to think of good advertising in those terms, it seemed to align our commercial interests and our values, and then it became almost unarguable that this was a commitment and a statement that we should make.”

The Guardian’s historic ban on fossil fuel ads (Heated)

Snipped from an interview with The Guardian’s interim CEO Anna Bateson in the latest Heated newsletter.

The line re: moving away from programmatic advertising resonated with me. I agree with it. I’d love to see a resurgence in direct relationships between publishers and advertisers; placement based on context, audience, and alignment.

Nothing can replace in-person community

Perhaps one of the most detrimental consequences of digital technology is the illusion of connection. We think that if we can tweet, post, text, e-mail, or even call someone, we’re good. After all, digital relationships save us the time and coordination of meeting in person, which in turn allows us to be überproductive—or so we tell ourselves. But here’s the thing: nothing can replace in-person community, and our failed attempts to do so come at a grave cost.

It’s Okay to Be Good and Not Great (Outside)

I owe a lot to the web. It opened the door to opportunities I never would’ve had otherwise.

As a kid growing up in central Ontario, I was able to make new friends around the world and pour my time into hobbies that eventually led to a fulfilling life and career.

But none of that would’ve happened if I didn’t go from URL to IRL.

It’s the difference between RSVP’ing and showing up. Intent doesn’t equal action.

I’m an introvert by default. In my early 20’s I was notorious for flaking on parties. Even now, a decade after my first meetup, I still feel an urge to bail before an event.

Despite that, I’ll still show up, because I know the benefit is worth the discomfort.

In-person experiences are the catalyst for strong relationships. Everything we do otherwise is a watered-down alternative. Video puts a face to the name. In-person experiences put the whole being of a person to the name.

So, if you really want to connect with your community, bring them together offline.

We need a social tipping point on climate

“I used to feel like I was doing something. I was switching over my lightbulbs, cutting meat out of my diet, catching public transport, and printing on both sides of the paper. I felt virtuous. But now it’s clear that these small acts of good citizenry are not working fast enough to make enough of an impact. There’s an urgency I didn’t understand before, a curve on the graph which accelerates under its own momentum.”

How do we go on? (Australian National University)

Our little wins aren’t big enough to offset climate chaos. Big moves need to come from those who can make the biggest impact.

Talk to your customers

You’re more likely to get useful responses when you make a human connection. Think about how much more often you go to coffee shops, stores, or restaurants when you get just the right amount of human attention. People notice when companies put a real human face on their communication without overstepping.”

Don’t Automate Talking To Your Customers (Daniel Zarick)

Don’t automate until you absolutely have to. It’s one thing to self-serve through a support portal. But if a customer needs to speak with someone, let them.

Two useful methods for personal productivity

When I’m feeling the pressure of competing obligations, or not sure if I should work on something, or if something I am working on feels like it’s just not right, I turn to Think, Organize, Do. These are the three modes of work that everyone needs in order to function with purpose. These modes inform and feed each other, and when I’m in a rut, burned out, or overwhelmed, it’s usually because I haven’t spent enough time in one or more of these modes.”

Think, Organize, Do (Gina Trapani, Postlight)

I’m wearing a bunch of hats at work. I’m a platform administrator, overseeing tools and processes; I’m a content marketer, working on project management & asset creation; and I’m a community manager, working on program development & implementation.

Somewhere around all that I’m also working on my personal stuff — this blog, a few others, WP Durham, certifications, upping my coding skills. Then there’s my family and home and health, other hobbies, and all that gaps in between.

There’s a lot going on.

80% of the time I feel in control, like everything just flows from one task to another, like all the things are a latticework. But then there’s the 15% of the time where I feel out of alignment. And the 5% where I feel straight up overwhelmed.

Keep reading…

Community is a series of small choices and everyday actions

This was community. And what I would come to learn, slowly, is that community is about a series of small choices and everyday actions: how to spend a Saturday, what to do when a neighbor falls ill, how to make time when there is none. Knowing others and being known; investing in somewhere instead of trying to be everywhere. Communities are built, like Legos, one brick at a time. There’s no hack.

The only metric of success that really matters (Quartz)

I’d argue that communities aren’t built — they’re grown. Like a garden, a community requires care and attention and, over time, they’ll bear fruit. And as with a garden, there are things you can do to improve your chances of success.

You’ll have different plants in your garden, depending on what type of garden you want to grow. The better you understand the needs of your plants, the better a job you can do in caring for them. Some plants need more sunlight than others, or more water, or different soil.

And so it goes with a community. Knowing why you’re bringing people together in the first place will help you plan accordingly. Understanding the needs of your members means you’ll do a better job of solving those needs and giving them a good reason to stick around.

Where I absolutely align with this piece is in the takeaway, that it’s a series of small decisions and actions that make a community take off. The consistency, the routine, the showing up and contributing, participating, over and over again.

All of this compounds over time, as more people join, as more people discover and share and invite others to do the same. It’s a flywheel: Show up. Participate. Document. Share. Repeat.

Creating common knowledge

Creating common knowledge creates a network effect. All companies in Silicon Valley want to build network effects, but few have followed Barton’s path despite its effectiveness. The more people use and trust Glassdoor, the more companies must take it seriously. And as users see more people contributing to Glassdoor, they can be more confident they’ll stay anonymous when they add their review. There are virtuous loops in common knowledge.”

Making Uncommon Knowledge Common (kwokchain)

My hobby from high school through college was to work on gaming fansites and forums.

In those early days (mid 2000’s) it was up to us, the devoted webmaster crowd, to compile information into comprehensive guides and resources for other gamers.

Our guides — usually written by one or two people — drove a fair chunk of search traffic and links. But the vast, vast majority of our traffic came from the forums.

Our forums were a well of common knowledge, deep discussion threads probing all angles of the games we covered.

That arrangement was good for a while. Our sites offered the coherent walkthroughs and references; the forums offered everything else.

Then “Web 2.0” happened.

Keep reading…

Leadership is a role

“To build a great career in content marketing, you need to develop all the right skills, but you also have to elevate above the day-to-day work. To be seen as a leader, you have to act like one. Leadership, therefore, isn’t a job title, it’s a role.”

How to Earn a Senior Content Marketing Role (Animalz)

Shoutout to Devin at Animalz for this piece on career development in the world of content marketing. It piggybacks on an episode of their podcast that’s also worth a listen.

Another juicy takeaway from her article:

“If you want to level up, you need to be the one who comes up with ideas, advocates for them, turns them into reality and gets them to the finish line.”

— Devin Bramhall, Animalz

Devin’s experience at Help Scout feels incredibly familiar, and it matches my own journey at GoDaddy over the last five years.

Keep reading…