Filtering Through the Information Barrage

With over 100 RSS subscriptions in my Bloglines account (and a personal goal of expanding that list through April to include very intelligent and interesting bloggers in various related and unrelated verticals in search engine marketing) it’s easy to get simply overwhelmed with the amount of information being presented. Add to the mix traditional news media – online and offline, forums, community boards and email newsletters, and you can easily spend your 40 hour work week simply making an attempt to absorb new information.

Confusion

Light at the end of the Information Tunnel
Leave it to Lifehacker to pinpoint another nice resource on more effective reading and comprehension, written by Ann McNeal of Hampshire College. Throughout my academic life, McNeal’s guidelines seemed to be a regular exercise when it came to reviewing best practices for getting through the case studies, textbook chapters and handouts presented each week: skim the material for key points, identify unknown or uncertain vocabulary (and strive to understand it), re-read for comprehension and finally, analyze and critique. Each professor adds their own opinions and best practices as well, some of which I would agree with and some of which I did not (or just noted when it came time to present a final project or report). As professionals, we usually end up carrying these habits into our regular lives – whether we realize it or not, helping us filter out the noise and getting to the real information we need.

In the classroom, you pretty much have to (or should) read and comprehend the material presented. In our professional lives, it is just not practical to absorb every single piece of information presented on a daily basis. However, the suggestions for reading comprehension provided by the academic world can help those of use generating content be more effective in our own written deliveries. Whether you are blogging, writing articles or creating content for your website, here are some ideas for getting your message to stand out amongst the masses and for creating content that will provide value to your audience:

  • Think Differently and Act Accordingly
    Your message to your customers has to have your customers’ objectives in mind. Copyblogger’s “Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging“, which is specific to blogging but can be correlated to any business looking to create communication with their customers (and prospects), talks about providing the reader/subscriber value, and not writing purely for the results or success of oneself.
  • Good Content is Easy to Read, Organized and Accurate
    Once you have your idea in mind, the actual “how” to your writing style becomes important. For those that skim the material first, this may be one of the only opportunities you will have to get their attention at all. Randy Ray’s affiliate marketing blog provides a good list of characteristics found in good web content. You have a 5 second window to get a readers attention – how you present the material can become just as important as what you are saying.
  • Think About What You are Saying and Writing
    Todd Malicoat wrote a nice list of ways to NOT be successful on your blog (and probably in your website content) which include important points such as actually spending time developing your post and researching the material you are about to present or discuss.
  • Take a Step Back and Let Your Post Sit.
    Taking this logic even further, an article in Problogger (written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev) stresses the importance of reviewing whatever it is you are writing, even more so for your more important pieces of information. Once you’ve gotten your ideas in writing, step back and review the material at least a couple times before publishing, because odds are you will see opportunities for improvement each time you revisit your post.

Common Themes and Considerations
The important takeaways are to present material that the reader/customer wants, provide new perspectives and unique points of view, organize the information effectively and for the online reader, and invest time in the process, especially for the messages that are more important than others.

There are many intelligent pieces of information online as well as many creative and talented individuals involved in successful ventures that find their way into the online marketplace. However, the Internet creates a continuously new and evolving communication opportunity, which requires consideration for the most appropriate and best suited ways and means of facilitating this process. In the end, the best messages will still follow similar patterns – understanding what your readers want to read and delivering the message in ways that provide the best experience and opportunity to be seen.


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