Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Web Content : How to Write a Great Article In 10 Easy Steps

After touching a little on poetry writing in the last post I wanted to blog on a little about writing articles. For those who find their 'writing voice' in the niche of articles, editorials, news items, or reviews, there is an ever increasing demand for high quality web content of this type on the internet. Today I wanted to give you 10 Easy Tips on how to write a good article as well as steer you in the direction of a few extra pointers on the issue. Take note, each tip will also be a link for an additional page on the subject.

1. Find a subject you feel passionate about
It is of the utmost importance that you feel moved by your subject matter so it is vital to choose a topic that you feel strongly about.

2. Use a good clear layout
Use a layout that is simple and has a catchy intro, an informative middle section, and a concluding final ending.

3. Choose proper writing style necessary to convey article
Finding the proper tone and employing the appropriate writing style is critical in captivating readers.

4. Do background research on your subject
Get all of the necessary facts, figures and opinions on your subject matter before you start writing your article.

5. Vigorous writing can be both simple and concise
Use short sentences and reduce your writing down to the bare essentials

6. Stay on the topic
If you find yourself drifting into another topic, stop yourself, retrace your steps, and stay on track.

7. Satisfy your readers
Make sure that you hold the reader's attention. You must fulfill the needs of your readers as well as yourselves.

8. Give your article a proper ending
Don't leave the reader dangling at the end. Sum up your ideas and give them a unique final insight as well.

9. Promote your article
Once you have finished writng your article you need to get it out there so that the readers can find it.

10. Keep your eyes open for your next article
Now that you have one under your belt, be aware of thoughts that give you the feeling-"Hey, I should write an article about that".

That is the wasy I see it readers. Get a plan, develop the concept, go into production, distribute widely, and plan ahead for tomorrow. Now get out there and write something! Good luck :)

Seven Ways to Market via Web 2.0

1. Learn about social media. First and foremost, it is critical that library staff participate in and understand social media by learning about it firsthand. Efforts like the Learning 2.0 program ( developed by Helene Blowers for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County are great ways to start to explore social software. Fundamentally, marketing in a Web 2.0 world requires us to think in both new and old ways at the same time.

YouTube,, Flickr, digg, MySpace, and Technorati are examples of new engines that you need to understand in order to effectively use them to reach your markets.

2. Create a Web 2.0 marketing plan. Web 2.0 marketing efforts can pop up organically and some may already be happening at your library. It is useful to step back and think strategically about where and how you’re going to commit your marketing resources online. Tap into the creativity of your staff and users to create a social media marketing plan. Look at your marketing, customer service, and Web site for natural opportunities and synergies for social media marketing.

Open your mind to radical new ideas that fit the nature of social media. For instance, let your audience create content on your site and pass it along. Try a photo captioner service where they (or you) can submit local photos, add captions, and then share links or send the new photo as a postcard to their friends. Or invite your passionate users to create promotional videos about your library, then use them on your local TV channels and post them online everywhere.

3. Participate! Join the conversation. Social media applications are two-way streets (as opposed to the old one-way messages of standard promotion). There are lots of ways to join in. You can add social tools and services (such as Weblogs, wikis, tagging, video blogs, etc.) to your library Web sites. Enable comments on blogs and allow users to contribute to wikis.

Instead of waiting for our audiences to come to our Web sites or blogs, we can join the conversation wherever it is—on users’ blogs, Web forums, MySpace, course Web sites, team rooms, wikis, etc. (Always respect the norms or conventions for communicating in a particular social medium.)

Discover where your target audiences hang out online and join them. Create a MySpace or Facebook profile for your library like Topeka and Shawnee County (Kan.) Public Library has. (It boasts 1,135 friends!) Build a profile and offer content and services that attract links, contacts, and friends. If your users spend time on Wikipedia, add or improve your library’s entry.

4. Be remarkable. Have something interesting to offer your viewers that they can use, bookmark, and share on- or offline. Social media is a form of viral marketing. Interesting ideas and content get passed along rapidly. Make sure that adding fresh content is a priority whether it’s a new booklist, podcast of an author reading, quirky facts about your community, or a background piece on an upcoming city or organization event.

5. Help your library content travel. Encourage visitors to bookmark and tag your content with a click of a button by posting bookmark buttons on your site. (See samples below.) This can actually be a serious technical challenge for some library sites. It’s important to choose the right content management software so that your Web pages have permanent URLs. Some library search results pages cannot be bookmarked easily; some not at all.

Allow users to repost booklists, book reviews, photos, podcasts, or videos on their own sites.

Creating widgets and toolbars can help keep your library information wherever the users are. John Blyberg developed Go-Go-Google Gadget, which patrons can add to their personal Web pages. Below you can see some downloadable library toolbars.

Post your content on sites like Flickr and YouTube where it’s easy for users to find and share it.

Syndicate everything you can that your audience will find useful. Slice and dice your content for dozens of specialized audiences. Spread the word about what your library has. Make newsfeeds for new materials such as books, DVDs, talking books, and video feeds. Create newsfeeds for your blogs,
blog comments, popular pages, and books just returned. Several libraries have created lists of new books by topic.

6. Be part of the multimedia wave. With more than 100 million video downloads per day, YouTube is too big a marketing opportunity to overlook. Create short videos and post them to YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

Look at creating podcasts. Programs that you’re already doing (story times, book discussions, guest speakers) often lend themselves to being recorded as podcasts. Be sure to set up newsfeeds for releases of audio and video content so your audience can opt in and be notified of new releases.

7. Monitor engagement and learn as you go. Evaluating social media marketing is different than just counting Web site usage or circulation numbers. You want to measure how well your library is doing at engaging the public via social media. And you should measure both the amount and the intensity of the engagement.

Here are some examples of what you need to monitor: How many blog readers do you have? How many comments are posted by how many different visitors? How many people mention your library on their blogs, and how often? Are search engine results predominantly positive or negative? Is your content bookmarked in social bookmarking sites? How many friends and contacts do you have on your profile in social networking sites? How many comments or scrapbook entries are you receiving? How many visitors contribute content to your site (videos, photos, documents, wiki entries)?

Think Creatively, Then Make Good Choices

These are just a few strategies to kick-start your thinking about marketing in a Web 2.0 world. There are a lot of ideas for social media marketing, and the great news for librarians is that they’re usually easy and inexpensive to carry out. The difficulty with Web 2.0 marketing won’t be a lack of strategies and good ideas, but rather choosing which ones to do first.

Marketing this way is fun and creative, and when it really works it can create a big bang. Social media marketing offers you the opportunity to engage your community in new ways and to turn strangers into fans. Fans are your online salespeople who promote your library and its services. If your fans love you and your services, they’ll spread the word.

The key to getting some of the social media airtime is having great, neat stuff that people want to share and discuss. Libraries have treasure troves of great stuff that people love to talk about. Let’s make it easy for our fans to spread the word.

Open source is mission critical to Web services

According to a new report produced by Forrester Research for Unisys, some industry observers are now saying there's enough business benefit derived from open source to use it for Web services and applications that are critical to today's business needs in key areas such as driving revenue and enhancing customer service.
The overall majority of respondents to the study, based on interviews with nearly 500 IT decision makers, including senior executives, also are using open source for mission-critical applications, but showed some concerns about the availability of Web services to unlock the full value of open source applications.
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Over 50 percent of the respondents – 58 percent in North America and 51 percent in the U.K. and Continental Europe – stated that they now use open source software for mission-critical applications utilized in Web services.

About 80.2 percent report using open source in the application infrastructure – databases, Web servers and application servers – which provides the underpinning for both routine and mission-critical applications. Such a widespread infrastructural utilizations indicates a strong potential for expansion of the number of mission-critical applications as open source proves its value to those enterprises.

Anthony Gold, vice president and GM, Open Source Business at Unisys says “Forrester's research clearly shows that enterprise decision makers are giving at least equal weight to value as well as cost savings in adopting open source software for a range of application requirements.”

Gold added “executives today are increasingly recognizing that open source solutions can help them save money and, more importantly, also assist their companies realize some major economic and operational benefits – improved efficiency of IT supporting the business, greater innovation, improved time to market and enhanced competitive advantage in the Web services segment.”

Overall, a large majority of the respondents also saw open source software as a major vehicle for key IT initiatives such as modernizing their enterprise application environments. Seventy-one percent viewed it as important or very important for consolidating IT infrastructure.
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In addition, 57 percent of the respondents characterized open source as important or very important for facilitating the migration to a SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). SOA can permit those enterprises both to deploy new generations of applications more efficiently and integrate new Web services with those provided by legacy applications, helping to preserve the value of their long-term investment in IT.

Open source software’s support for open standards – noted as a key attribute by 78 percent of the respondents – was a major factor driving their view of its value for SOA next-generation enterprise architectures, according to Forrester.

About 74 percent of the respondents to the survey expressed concern about the availability of consulting, integration, support and other services for open source software. Unisys believes that that range of services is most likely to be available from a larger service provider with greater proficiency in delivering enterprise solutions, rather than from smaller providers lacking the capabilities and credentials to provide extensive services.

About 68.5 percent of the respondents expected the following services from their open source service provider:

# Open source software maintenance
# Life cycle support
# Consulting services
# Integration of open source components
# Integration of open source software
# Open source application development

Gold said “the Forrester Consulting study demonstrates that the psychological barriers to enterprise adoption of open source software are falling. As a pioneer in the open source movement, Unisys is committed to delivering the consulting and integration services that close the confidence gap and give enterprise decision makers the impetus to make open source solutions a key part of the IT architecture supporting their strategic business objectives.”