Why Goodreads Is Becoming the Social Network for Readers

Goodreads social network blog post

Goodreads is quietly becoming my favorite social network for discovering new things to read. It’s a simple, low-key meeting place for readers, reviewers, and non-influencers who are likely to get excited when they find a used bookstore while on vacation.

Influencer culture has changed the essential nature of social media channels. For every new platform, there is an emerging influencer culture. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does tend to create a lot of noise. To be influencers, people have to make noise, so it makes sense. Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea Etherverse graphic

Original post: 2/4/2012
Updated: 2/3/2019

Introduction to Updates: Since writing this in 2012, the world of digital and creativity has evolved quite a bit. At the time, I was working in the digital marketing division of a large agency called Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. The agency is still operating, but I have moved on to work on the client side. The updates here will reflect that shift in my employment role.

Talking About “Creativity”

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. I’ve worked as a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency and on the client side. No matter where you work, people look to creative teams for fresh ideas. After all, that’s why we’re called “creatives.” Continue reading

Binge Watching for Storytellers

I’m a media binge watcher. From recent stats, it is apparent that you may be too. We are, as a culture in love with stories, but we’re not in love with waiting around.

Actually, let’s clarify that…we’re binging on good stories. And, of course, we are putting some level of trust and faith in the audacity of the storyteller. We’re crossing our fingers (and our legs on the couch) in the hopes that the story we’re watching, reading, hearing is going to end as well as it started. We’re hoping that the story creators have thought this story line through and know how to make this all worth our while.

Short-form videos require less commitment, so we are faster to forgive weak storytelling. A 6-second Vine video requires less time away from our family, friends, and career, so we don’t care if it’s not a great story. In that case, good enough is good enough. Continue reading

JAWing With JK: Part 2 of a Blog Series on Visual Storytelling

Joe Kalinowski JAWS headerPart 2 of 2: Check out Part 1 “Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons” on the Content Marketing Institute website

Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons

CMI’s Jos Kalinowski on the History of the Jaws Movie Poster
Questions by Buddy Scalera. Answers by Joe Kalinowski,Creative Director at Content Marketing Institute

BUDDY:  The iconic JAWS movie poster was not the first version, right? What were some of the other versions?

JOE K: The original hard cover was black and white painted by artist Paul Bacon for Bantam Books. It was a more simplistic version of the iconic image featuring a white translucent shark veering up towards a swimmer painted in the same style. The shark had no eyes or teeth, just the recognizable shape of the shark’s head and mouth. When Bantam released the book in paperback, they revisited Bacon’s image. They hired artist Roger Kastel to use Bacon’s hardcover image as a starting point, but they were suggesting Kastel to make the image a bit more realistic and of course menacing. Kastel did such an impressive job that Universal Studios chose to use that image for the iconic movie poster. Continue reading

Movie a Week Marketing Training

Recently, I’ve been watching a lot more movies.  it’s not because I have an abundance of free time on my hands. It’s actually because I’m trying to become a better marketing storyteller and I think movies will help me get there.

Over the past year or so one of the most abused terms has to be the word “storytelling.” Everyone seems to think that they are storytellers. This may not be true, as explained in this simple, profanity-laced rant by Stefan Sagmeister.

As a concept, storytelling is a great idea, particularly for content marketers. It’s a creative way to connect with your audience and put a human spin on products and services. If you’ve found a story that works for you, well, good for you.

Like any creative endeavor, storytelling takes practice. Even stories get better with multiple tellings, since you learn what works, what doesn’t, and how much information you need to lead up to the big finale in your tale. Continue reading

Comics for Content Marketers

comics-for-content-marketers1-smOver the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”

At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.

Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.

Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.

Continue reading

Infographics and Visual Storytelling with Author Ross Crooks

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Ross Crooks of Column Five Media

Better, more powerful devices have made it possible to tell better, more powerful visual stories. These days, content marketers are discovering that infographics can help express essential information and complex concepts.

Infographics (aka information graphics) are becoming an essential tool for visualizing concepts that may otherwise be locked in databases and spreadsheets. In the hands of skilled designers, infographics strap a jetpack to your data and help it reach a wider audience across multiple devices.

Data visualization is nothing new, but we’re seeing an emergence of innovative techniques for showcasing and sharing ideas. Some infographics are a single static image, while others are complete interactive stories.

For content marketers, infographics represent another way to provide value and engage with their target audience or existing customers. Brands must consider new and creative ways of creating utility, and infographics are becoming a cornerstone of strategic and tactical plans.

I caught up with Ross Crooks Co-Founder And COO of Column Five Media, an agency with offices in Newport Beach, CA and New York that creates visual stories for brands. With his partners Josh Ritchie and Jason Lankow, Crooks co-authored the book INFOGRAPHICS: The Power of Visual Storytelling, an essential guide for anyone interested in visual content strategy. The book is packed with examples and explanations that will help you get started building your own infographics. Continue reading

Brandscaping with Author and Marketer Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, brings personality to marketing.

Andrew Davis is the guy you want on your marketing team. He’s smart, passionate, funny, and has an uncanny knack for nailing it.

His book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships captures the essential rules of modern digital marketing. And if you had to distill it down to just one idea, it would be that marketing isn’t for loners. These days, you have make some friends and try new things.

And Andrew Davis is very good at identifying good partnerships and great marketing. In his book, he writes about large and small companies that are discovering new customers, simply by thinking beyond their traditional owned, earned, and, well, whatever campaigns.

He is like your favorite coach who both applauds you for reaching a new personal best, but also suggests that you can do better. He deconstructs successful campaigns, admires the work, and then suggests clever ways to make it even better. He’s smart, nimble, and it comes through on every page of his book.

But Andrew Davis is more than a writer. He’s also a surprisingly good speaker. When I met him this year, we were participating in a series of videos for Content Marketing Institute.

At Content Marketing World 2013, Andrew delivered a presentation on Brandscaping: The Secret to Unlocking Bigger Content Marketing Budgets and Driving Faster Results, and was the highest rated presenter at the conference. Not bad, considering the marketing legends at the event.

Despite his non-stop speaking schedule, Andrew found time to participate in an email interview with me.

BUDDY SCALERA: First, can you tell me what your book Brandscaping is all about?

ANDREW DAVIS: Brandscaping is all about leveraging the audiences of others to more effectively and efficiently sell your products and services. Essentially the entire book asks you one question: who already has your next customer as their current customer? Thinking this way opens up tons of new opportunities to work together, creating content that both your audiences will find valuable.
Continue reading

My (First) Kickstarter Crowdfunding Success Story

Thank you to kickstarter supporters

Thank you graphic for my Kickstarter supporters.

Last week, my first Kickstarter project ended successfully. I was funded 115% of my goal, which means I raised $694 and my goal was $600. Not bad.

The idea here was twofold:

  1. First, I wanted to raise a few bucks to print a batch of custom t-shirts, but without taking on a personal risk. As noted, mission accomplished.
  2. Second, I wanted to have the experience of running a Kickstarter project. All too often, people talk about stuff without really knowing how it works. I’d heard a lot of about crowdfunding, how it relates to marketing, and figured it might make sense to know how it actually worked. Again, mission accomplished.

Setting It Up
As I mentioned in my first Kickstarter post, the setup process took longer than expected. I wanted to be running a few days earlier, but my project was initially rejected. It took me a day or so to appeal and get approved. Plus, there are the financial requirements, which took some time with the bank and Amazon.com.

Once I got started, the Kickstarter contributions surged. Within the first 48 hours, I’d almost completed my funding. Between several friends and a couple of generous benefactors, I was almost ready to retire to a beach in Miami.

Almost. Continue reading

Kicking Off with Kickstarter Crowdfunding

Kickstart campaign

Kickstarting my first Kickstart campaign

A few hours ago, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign and peered into the inevitable future of commercial creativity.

First off, for those of you not familiar, Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” platform. If you have something you want to make, you can create a project and people can contribute money to help you reach your goals. In return, they earn “rewards,” which vary from practical to unusual.

My Kickstarter campaign is fairly straightforward. I’d like to print T-shirts, but I can’t afford the initial outlay of cash to the printer. Ordinarily, I’d have to pay the printer before the actual shirts are sold. If I don’t sell enough shirts, I can lose money.

So how does Kickstarter help me? In this case, I get people to pledge financial support (everything from $1 to $100). In exchange, they get items of value, including my “Girls Like Comics Too” shirt. Since I am also an occasional author, I’ll sign copies of my work, including comic books and books I’ve published.

Part of the fun is creating these Kickstarter rewards. You want to incentivize people to support you, so you end up giving away a lot of value-added stuff to get backers. In my case, the value of the stuff is up to 50% higher than the investment people are making. It’s a crazy little system, but it seems to work.

There are Kickstarter campaigns for lots of special interests, including comics, movies, music, photography, fashion, technology, and more. Continue reading