Highlights From Product Camp SoCal 2011

I’ll be semi-liveblogging today (Saturday, October 15, 2011) while I’m at the ProductCamp SoCal 2011 event.  If you’re here in person, send out a shout on twitter (@MelAclaro) and let’s connect. In the meantime, feel free to share the posts below on Facebook, or wherever. And, if you have questions for speakers in my session while I’m live blogging it, feel free to post a question and I’ll try and pose your question to the speaker.

5 Sources of Great Content You’ve Likely Overlooked

Creating All Lively Content is Easy if you Search and Share”

Part 2 in the 7-Pillars Series.  Remember the 7-Pillars?

In my previous post in this series, I tee’d up the concept of the 7 Pillars For Creating Great Video Screencasts with a cutesy little mnemonic. Yeah, that’s it in the block quote above. It’s a little phrase to help remember the seven points below:

  • Content
  • Audio
  • Lighting
  • Camera
  • Editing Software (video)
  • Screen Capture Software
  • Sharing / Distribution Platforms

In this post, I want to focus on the first of those listed: Content.  That’s obviously key, right?  Other than the “duh” factor that obviates the need to have content defined to begin with before you can produce it, the definition of it is still one of those things that we all get hung up on at one time or another.  It keeps us from moving forward with the creation process.

Every now and then, the fallacy of “I don’t have anything interesting to talk about” sets in.  Call it writer’s block, roadblock, mental hurdle, creativity challenge, whatever. The point is, even the most prolific content creators have this content definition challenge every now and then.

But, in fact, you have more of it than you may think.

5 Sources Of Great Content You May Not Have Thought About

Time management and life hurdles aside for a moment, the rut of blanking out on content can be overcome by taking stock of content you’ve already created.

1.  Deconstruct Larger Productions

In one section of their book, Content Rules, Ann Handley and CC Chapman write about reimagining content.  The crux of it is essentially about the value you can create in repurposing existing content while adding new context and deeper insight to its components.  Turns out, there are a lot of ways to slice and dice this.  Including the elegant approach of deconstructing larger (completed) productions into smaller (new) content modules.  Each can stand on its own legs as a unique blog post, a video segment, a screencast, a podcast, or something similar.

Viewed another way, as Todd Defren puts it, Atomize Your Content.  Doing so not only gives you a quick starting point for defining new content modules, but also allows you to expound on each factoid of the original publication.  Your readers / viewers / listeners can discuss each module on its own merits. And, not only that, but the ensuing conversations and backlinks could help boost your own readership and overall search results.
(Image courtesy: jhritz via creative commons-share-remix-attribution.)

2.  Assemble Smaller Productions Into Larger Ones

Okay, no sooner did I juuust suggest the idea of making smaller segments from a bigger production, than am I now offering the flip side.  In this case, I’m talking about assembling related content that you’ve already produced and then reimagining a larger whole using those smaller modules as building blocks.

Many bloggers, for example, are familiar with the benefits of categorizing or tagging each newly written article.  We don’t often think about it too much while we’re doing it.  But, the value here is in waking up one morning after, say, 6 months or a year of having diligently published small posts on a regular basis and then realizing that some categories or tags have twenty or thirty articles associated with them.  By virtue of each being associated with the same category(ies), it stands to reason that they’ll each also have a common theme.  It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to now rope all those together into an eBook, a white paper, a presentation or a podcast.
(Image courtesy: Carmyarmyofme via creative commons – share-attrib-noncommercial-noderivative.)

3.  Remix existing content into new media formats

So, let’s say that after the previous suggestion about assembling smaller productions into larger ones, you decided to take the option of bundling several thematically related content modules and creating an eBook from them.  Okay?  So that’s one format.

What you might consider next is to start with that eBook and subsequently record an audio reading of its text and produce an MP3 file for download.  Better yet, you could cycle back to the suggestion in #1 and subsequently re-atomize the whole audio book again and release each audio download over a series of days or weeks.

That’s exactly what my friend Ron Ploof did when he released his excellent book, Read This First: The Executive’s Guide to New Media–From Blogs to Social Networks.  After having written an outstanding text for corporate executives, he launched the release of the softcover with an audio chapter released in MP3 format a chapter at a time of a series of weeks.

(Need I say it?  This could work just as well for video formats, as well.)
(Image courtesy: manue_aka_crazeecrafteez via creative commons by-nc-nd.) 

4.  Create Slide-based Presentations From Existing Content 

This suggestion is somewhat related to #1 and #3 above.  That is, reimagining new atomized content from an existing larger production, and then subsequently re-constructing a (new) larger work product, but in a new delivery medium.  Only, in this case, instead of speaking of a new media format, I’m suggesting reimagining it into a different delivery format; specifically, one that is presentation-oriented.  This can be a slide deck you create in PowerPoint or a workshop that you prepare for “delivery.”

You probably noticed that I wrote the word delivery in the last sentence with quotes around it.  The reason is because I want to point out that just because you prepare a PowerPoint deck doesn’t mean you have to actually present it in front of a live audience.  If a live audience isn’t your thing, then you could just as well deliver the presentation in a pre-recorded fashion.  By using one of the many screencapture software programs easily available, you can easily and comfortably deliver your presentation in a non-threatening environment.

Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to edit and polish it before final production.  Which, in this case, means digitizing it for delivery on the web and then placing it on your blog, website or on a platform such as Slideshare.net.

5.   Record Workshops, Presentations or Interviews

Okay, contrary to the assumption I made in tip #4 above, let’s say it turns out that live presentations are your thing.  In which case, I’ll stand corrected.

So, in this case, on the day that you deliver your presentation to a live audience, you could simply have someone rig up an HD camera on a tripod in the back of the room and push the record button at the right time.

In fact, a 45-minute YouTube 101 presentation I conducted last year was easily atomized into a 5-part YouTube And Beyond blog series.   (And, had I thought to do so at the time, I could have also had someone transcribe the audio from the series.  The transcript could then have been used as the basis for a chapter in a subsequent eBook.)

(One caveat here:  Since you want the camera to be somewhat out of the way of your audience, it will likely be some distance away from you.  In this case, audio will be an important consideration.  I have some tips about this which I’ll include in the next article in this series.  In the meantime, it might help you to revisit this article on The Poor Man’s Wireless Microphone: How to Use a Digital Voice Recorder as a Walkaround Mic.)

This approach works just as well for workshops and interviews, by the way.  In fact, they don’t even have to be your workshop.  Nor do they have to be interviews of you.  In fact, some of the best content comes from panels or workshops conducted by other people.  You’ll want to get permission from your subject(s), of course.  But, you’ll be surprised how many workshop trainers, panelists and presenters are willing to have their session recorded — especially if you offer to provide them with a digital copy of their own to use in their own marketing and brand promotionals.

In fact, I used exactly this strategy during the ProductCamp Barcamp last year where I facilitated a panel of four experts on Social Strategies for Large and Personal Brands.  Not only was the content sourced from the collaboration of others, but I was also able to atomize yet another presentation while adding value to the panelists by providing them with digital content for their own use.

Take Inventory – You Are Perhaps Your Richest Source Of Great Content

The 5 content-rich sources I listed above are just a few.  If you take stock of your inventory, I’ll bet you’ll find that you have more ideas for great content than you know.

Your Action:  Take a moment now and think of just one or two additional ideas you might add to the list of sourcing great content.  Would you care to share them with me?