One sign that social media are maturing is that content tricks such as lists and how-tos do no longer satisfy readers who have had their fill of hors d’oeuvres and hunger for something substantial.
That’s the viewpoint of Drew Hawkins, who recently commented in a blog post titled “The Fall of Content” that “When creating content, whether it’s your blog or Twitter or some other platform, you should ask yourself: are you posting something that you are genuinely passionate about? Or are you just trying to drive traffic at the expense of your reader?”
Customers are ready to move past design gimmicks – fascination by bright shiny objects – in favor of design and capabilities that make information easier to find and use. “Thou shalt not direct a visitor away from thy site” was never more true than today.
Thus content and design must work together – and also with your other marketing and communications strategies.
Hawkins isn’t alone in this viewpoint or the first to express it — it’s something Hammock has believed since its founding in 1991. Your online presence needs to provide potential customers and clients with content that helps them evaluate and use your products and services—what we call contextual content. And the design must be clear, easy to navigate and use.
Whether in print, online or skywritten, content and design must be not only creative, but also meaningful and helpful to our clients’ audiences. Otherwise, it’s like an ad that gets everyone talking – but no one can remember what the product is.
And isn’t the point to have content that works for your product or service?

Despite what some might think, simply setting up a few social media accounts isn’t enough. You have to have a strategy of how to use them.
Once you’ve outlined your objectives, if you’re having trouble deciding which social media platforms to use to best market yourself, check out this handy chart from Revenflo to get an idea of which social media platforms will help you achieve your goals. For example, Facebook and Twitter have ended up in the Most Effective Customer Communication and Most Effective Brand Exposure categories, while Digg and StumbleUpon are considered effective in driving traffic to your website.

We think that The Wrap’s list of the “Top 25 Must-Follow Media Insiders” is right on. And we promise it’s not just because Rex is the third insider listed. Why does The Wrap’s Dylan Stableford believe media-obsessed Twitter users should follow Rex? Dylan says it’s because, “Hammock, aside from running a custom publishing operation in Nashville, is a serial adopter of new media tools (as evidenced by his one-letter Twitter handle) and has plenty of worthwhile opinions on them, and others.”
Yes, we knew all that about Rex. We’re just glad more Twitter users are now catching on.

On April 3, the iPad era will begin. And yes, Rex will be at the Apple store early that morning to pick up the one he has reserved. That should be no surprise. On his blog, Rex has become noted for his accurate predictions about what the iPad would be, starting back in July 2006. He even Photoshopped a concept of the device in November 2007. And a year ago, he miscalculated the date it would be announced, but came pretty close to describing the device, down to the pricing.
As Rex and I are the resident Mac-heads in the office, I thought I’d use this “count-down week” to interview him about why he believes the iPad is such a big deal — especially when it comes to the business we’re in: Custom media and content marketing.

While it’s important in your content marketing to spread your message across multiple social media platforms, it’s also helpful to have a good idea of what the users of those platforms are looking for so you can tailor your message.
According to this recent article on, “Twitterers mostly consume news, MySpace users want games and entertainment, Facebookers are into both news and community and Digg’s audience has a mixed bag of interests.”
That’s not to say you shouldn’t post tweets that show a more personal, community oriented side of your business on Twitter and discount putting any business postings on Facebook, but it’s always helpful to understand how a particular audience interacts with information.
Head over to Mashable to check out the breakdown of what users are interested in on the various social media sites.

It seems small business owners are mixed on the value of social media for business. Those who love it have seen an uptick in sales that they can tie directly to their social media efforts. Those who aren’t impressed say the time investment isn’t worth the effort, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But what effort were these businesses making? The article mentioned a few ways in which these companies used social media (customer service, direct sales leads). But nowhere was social media mentioned as a way to push out content.
At Hammock, we believe content plays an integral role in retaining and recruiting customers. But we’re not talking about just any old content. We’re talking about engaging content that people actually look forward to reading and experiencing. We call that content that works!

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. To compete in today’s global economy, you need a Web presence with a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page … the list goes on and on. But with all the time and energy you put into these social media efforts, how do you make sure you’re getting a return on your investment? Here are the top three ways to make your social media efforts pay off, from John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing blog.
1. Follow up. Use networking sites to follow up with prospects you meet in the real world. Instead of meeting someone at a Chamber of Commerce mixer and following up with a phone call, send that person a LinkedIn invitation and, once you’re connected, pass along an article with tips about the very topic you discussed when you met.
2. Stay top of mind. Use social media to stay in front of your customers and educate them about what you have to offer. Share practical tools and tips and success stories through a blog that you encourage customers to subscribe to so you can engage with them. Upload video testimonials to YouTube and embed them on your site, or create a Facebook fan page with information about promotions and events.
3. Keep tabs on your industry. Subscribe to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists to stay informed about what’s going on in your market. Scan the day’s industry-related stories with a Google News Reader or set up Google Alerts to track industry terms and the news they create.

Everywhere you turn today companies are encouraging you to follow them on Twitter. And it’s not just the big national players like CNN who promote themselves on the social media tool–it’s local small businesses too, which I was reminded of just last week. At a fundraiser I struck up a conversation with caterers from Sweet 16th, my favorite bakery in Nashville. During our quick chat they explained how they are making bread now and chimed in, “Follow us on Twitter so you can find out which breads are available each day.”

The jury is still out on how the iPad and other tablets will impact what has been a struggling magazine industry the last few years, but Wired editor Chris Anderson has a positive outlook on the potential of the tablet to change the industry. Why is Anderson so confident in the opportunities tablets will create for magazines and content marketers? He shared the following insights at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Transformation Conference in San Francisco last week:

[Part 1 of a Series: See: Introduction. See: Links to other posts in this series.]
Business people do lots of things on the internet other than read or watch or listen to content. So when I say that only two kinds of content matter to them, I don’t mean web-based applications and email.
I mean the kind of content we typically think of as news and information and advertising and the stuff now called “post-advertising” — the kind of content that marketing people and journalists and bloggers and Twitter users create and add to the internet. The kind of content that companies hand over millions of dollars to Google so that business people will click through to see it.
I’ve given these two kinds of content that matter most to business customers the following names: