5 Things to Remember as a Digital Content Hunter-Gatherer

Content is at the heart of every web marketing strategy out there now. More an more, web designers, social media managers, and marketers are playing the role of digital hunter-gatherers. You find images, blog articles, tweets, and photos. Then, you process it all into content that will (should) be of value to the audience.

When building an intelligent guide – or tour – for the web there are additional challenges. And, whether the content will be delivered by desktops, mobile devices, or a mix, there are common considerations.

Here are some helpful hints based on what we’ve seen in hunting and gathering content for building intelligent guides to places and things.

What Content is Your Audience Seeking?

The most important first step is to ask yourself what content your audience is seeking. Take a moment and step back. What you envision and what they are really seeking may be different. Is it image rich content? Is it more detailed text content? Are there geographical considerations or limitations?

Draft an Outline or Skeleton for Your Content.

Content draft for a mobile tour of a hotel.

The start of a rough outline for a Whitepoint scape of a hotel. Building a skeleton or draft for content can save a headache later. Otherwise, you might forget about showing off the banquet facilities, for example.

This isn’t a school assignment where you have to turn in a detailed outline. But, taking another moment – if only to scribble a draft on a napkin – can help a lot.

Many content management systems, like WordPress, enable you to get a draft started quickly.

If there are images or a flow in the content, map it out. For example, our Whitepoint framework for intelligent tours and guides enables you to build a draft while simply using image or text placeholders. Very shortly, you’re able to envision the structure of your creation. Taking a few moments more in planning may save lots of time later.

Don’t Worry, It Probably Shouldn’t Be Perfect Just Yet.

It is easy to obsess about getting that perfect photo. Unfortunately, your entire project may be held up as a result. In today’s world, it’s all about relevance and timeliness. Instead of getting that perfect image, use an acceptable photo and update it later. Write quality content now, but think of the project as ongoing.

In Fact, You May Never Be “Finished.”

Good content is hardly ever “finished” any more. And, the process of updating gives you an opportunity to call attention to your work again later. This is especially important in mobile tours and guides, because they remain relevant and up-to-date.

For digital content hunter-gatherers, this is good news. The concept of living content is explored in a recent article at Convince and Convert. Many a content vehicle – including Whitepoint – now enables you to create this “living content” rather than finishing up one project and moving on to dreaming up another. Take advantage of this.

Engage.

Your content can be much more effective when you find out what aspects your audience likes or dislikes. Not only does this process improve the quality of your content, it makes both your content and you more engaging.

Ask your audience for feedback, encourage conversation, and act accordingly.

Repeat cycle.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Right This Way: Managing Tour Content for the Mobile Web

Tour content management is part of a broader content management strategy for web designers and marketers. If you’re in charge of managing images and accompanying text for web or mobile tours of a museum, gallery, real estate, or other similar project, it probably makes up the bulk of your routine duties. It might also make up for the bulk of your headaches.

Why? There are a number of reasons, not least of which are image specifications, alt texts, and of course the constant creation of quality content.

In managing Whitepoint tour content ourselves and helping others build tours for the mobile web, we’ve developed some thoughts on best practices and tools that can help along the way.

Tour Content = Lots of Images

First off, tour content – and we mean good tour content – means lots of images.

And, not everyone is a graphic designer or photographer. Because of that, we’ve made some recommendations on free or low cost photo and graphics editing tools in a past blog post.

But, Tour Content Also Equals Relevant Images

More and more, with relevance and freshness of content being a key search engine optimization factor, tour content is logically affected as well. How fresh are your images? It isn’t just about having lots of images. It’s also about having relevant images.

Whitepoints on college campus tour content.

Tour content from this college campus tour shows whitepoints plotted on a beautiful spring landscape.

Maybe you manage an online tour of a college campus. Do prospective students want to see the winter landscape of your academic quad year-round? Try always updating with your most season appropriate image.

If you’re in real estate, providing an autumnal image of the property probably isn’t a good idea if the property is still on the market the following summer.

Tour Content Can Also Include Those Filenames Too

Adopting a method for image file naming is a great idea for two reasons. First, it makes photos easier to organize. Secondly, they become even more search engine friendly once posted.

So what’s a good way to do it? Some is personal preference, but try to stick with a method that will serve both organizational and SEO purposes. For a fictional university campus we’ll call UWP, let’s say you’ve got images for the student cafe, Briggs building, and tennis courts. Try this method:

Cafe-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Briggs-Building-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Tennis-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Yes, the dashes between words make a difference for your SEO purposes.

If you go with the above method, just place them in a folder called “UWP Campus Tour” when you manage multiple projects. You may even use that same folder with dashes if you’re uploading the whole thing.

As far as the organization goes, you can thank us later.

And Of Course, Text Content Management

If you manage tour content of any kind, you probably find that you routinely use the same snippets of text over and over again. On Mac, one thing we’ve found that helps is a nifty little tool called Flycut. This tool helps you manage your clipboard, archiving a history that you can easily call from and drop.

For Windows, gHacks has interesting recommendations on a tool called Clipjump.

Don’t Forget Mobile

It should go without saying, but many traditional organizations still don’t understand the impact of mobile. Lots of industries have more mobile users than desktop users, and some vice versa. But, no industry is spared from the impact of mobile.

Whatever you do, make sure first of all that you’re able to keep your image file size down. It’s best if you can offer a mobile-friendly version of the tour. If so, this will impact your image file choices. You may even keep separate versions for both desktop and mobile.

Be sure to test your tour content on multiple mobile devices – iPhones, Android phones, tablets, iPads . . . on and on. Formatting for so many different devices is tricky and time consuming. Luckily, a tour content management framework like Whitepoint may have already done this for you. Images can be optimized automatically as well, with little or no perceived loss in image quality.

And, needless to say, if you are managing tour content, you can use every bit of help and every single time saver.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Photo Tours as Part of A Content Marketing Strategy (Part 2)

Part One of “Photo Tours as Part of A Content Marketing Strategy” focused on the rise of content marketing, content quality, and the evolving value of photos. Now we’re going to dig more into photo tours and how they can be rich, compelling content for your audience.

What Does Your Audience Want to See?

A recent article on content marketing success by David Murdico made some great points that should serve as the first step in developing what your audience will consider compelling content.

Murdico suggests that you “decide what content is most important to your target buyer.” Think about it. The audience doesn’t always want to see what you want to see. They have specific needs, and they need details.

Recently viewing an office and conference space, it was clear that the web site focused on all of the cool furnishings and cutting edge decor in a line of static images.

This material was all of secondary importance, however. They did not detail what their high tech business customers probably most wanted to see: What connectivity is available? Where? What are the conferencing capabilities? How many HDMI ports does that monitor have?

The real material that your audience wants may not be what you think.

Detail in Interactive Photo Tours

Web designers, marketers, nonprofits, and small business people can now share much more detail about aspects of an image or scene. This is what the Whitepoint framework is for.

Greater detail in photos is possible - photo tours of this vintage Corvette would tell the story..

This vintage Corvette’s dashboard is sweet. But only a hardcore Corvette fan would know that this early model includes air conditioning, fiber optics, and headlight washers. And, that’s a Black Keys CD by the way.

The smartphone photo you see here is of a vintage Corvette’s dashboard. For many, it’s a cool dashboard, and that’s enough.

But, what if you’re wanting to sell this Corvette? You have a different challenge.

You need to highlight – in an interactive fashion – the details about all the options that this Corvette includes: Air conditioning, fiber optics, a five port washer pump (not just the three port). And, someone installed a newer stereo in it. But, what kind is it? And, what kind of speakers are attached to it?

These are the details that a buyer craves. And, you can set your self apart from the competition by providing them in an interactive photo tour. Imagine documenting the entire car. The Whitepoint framework is perfect for this.

Just look how buried the details are in the paragraph above. Web users are looking for more compelling content that’s fun (and that means interactive). Photo tours can take care of both of these needs.

Telling The Story

Jessica Ann, in an article for SteamFeed on telling your story with impact, says the focus is on content creation – not just buying more technology for your marketing. This is true.

Sure, you’re going to need the tools to deliver that message, and there are associated costs. But, photo tours are opportunities to stuff a lot of valuable content into small packages. And, those small packages can generate online conversations as well as attract new customers.

With Whitepoint, for example, there are SEO (search engine optimization) benefits to the content you create. Building photo tours, online galleries, or slideshows with Whitepoint results in content that is searchable and indexable by search engines. That helps attract those new customers. And, you can do it for free.

Engage

Some would even argue that SEO is the core purpose for a strong content marketing strategy. Regardless, the key is providing quality, engaging content.

Interactive photo tours are perfect for schools, museums, universities, public parks, real estate, medical offices, and retail spaces. Imagine all of the details to be shared with visitors and potential customers. What do they want to see? What interesting facts or history will make the subject more intimate for your audience?

Answer those questions. Soon, you won’t just be throwing content at your audience. You will engage your audience.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Photo Tours as Part of a Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1)

Content marketing is rapidly taking the place of traditional strategies for marketing and PR.

Frank Gehry's New York is not only a compelling sight, it makes for a compelling image.

Made you look. This photo of Frank Gehry’s New York is a compelling image. But, it was merely taken on a trip to New York with an old Canon digital camera.

And, content doesn’t just mean text.

Every blogger – including this one – would like to think that web audiences are hanging on every word. In reality, they’re paying less and less attention to the words.

Marketing now hinges on the content being generated – including images, videos, and microblogging.

Altogether, it becomes difficult to discern product marketing from content marketing.

Compelling Content Marketing

Read any of David Meerman Scott‘s books, and you’ll be reminded that images are just as, if not more, important than text. In fact, an article  – Photographs as Compelling Content Marketing – from a few years ago on his blog drives the point home well.

Content marketing is changing the rules of marketing and PR.

A real life David Meerman Scott book really sitting on this blogger’s desk. Photo taken with a smartphone.

Interestingly, since that blog article, the quality of the photos looks to matter less and less. Instagram and Pinterest  bathe the user in streams of pictures. Users scan them for stuff that they care about – not to check white balance.

Still, everyone wants their product or place to be presented in the best possible fashion, and it should be. It is important to remember though that users are increasingly suspicious of stock photography.

And, even contracted photography that looks a little too polished can yield the same user response.

“Authentic” Versus “Professional”

Where’s the happy medium? In content marketing, it’s probably best to consider how authentic the photo is rather than how professional.

Think about the way that you as a consumer discern between photos taken for an eBay listing, for example. Wouldn’t you rather see the item itself rather than an image taken from another web site? What about when you’re looking for a place to stay on vacation? Somehow, you will likely trust an image taken by a fellow traveler than one that has carefully caught birds flying over the resort’s beach and into the sunset.

That doesn’t mean an authentic photo has to look crappy. It just means that you should focus on authentic photos taken competently. You don’t have to hire an Ansel Adams clone.

What You Do With the Images

The image lists of old no longer do the trick. Way back in the day, if an image list included thumbnails, it was really considered cutting edge.

Surprisingly, many marketers and small business owners are today still taking a similar approach. But, with the rise of content marketing, this does not meet user expectations. In reality, you’ve now got seconds to capture that user’s attention. If that much. A list of links that might include a thumbnail just won’t cut it.

And, we’re already seeing that just having photos isn’t enough. They of course have to be relevant, but we’re seeing that users want to interact with them somehow. Think tagging. Photos, more and more, have to do something. And, they’re going to need to do that thing they do on a mobile device.

In Part 2 of “Photo Tours and Content Marketing,” we’ll look at how photo tours, online galleries, and slideshows can be more compelling as part of a content marketing effort.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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