Virality and Truth

This post is an expanded excerpt from our case study regarding our recent work with comedian Jon Mick.

Nobody knows you’re a dog

The Internet has changed the way information is published, but not the way we interpret the printed word: twenty or more years ago, publishing was expensive, so the things that were published went through some kind of vetting process. They were, for the most part, trustworthy. Now that publishing is free and immediate, anything can get on the Internet, but we haven’t shed our willingness to believe the printed word.

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Every time I see a small brand launch into an ill-considered social media engagement campaign I get a sore feeling in my gut. I’m not talking about big budget, Super Bowl-sized campaigns, but those small, simple tweets intended to engage followers and start a conversation like “Tell us your favourite experience with our brand.” These campaigns grow from poor advice from blogs or mimicking what bigger brands do. It’s frustrating to watch because they can be done right—all it takes is consideration of what your brand is, how your followers are already engaged and how to earnestly reward and grow that engagement.

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Making a PDF mockup for a client is a time worn tradition in web design, and for good reason: before HTML work begins, it’s important to get sign off on the site’s overall look. The client wants to know what they’re getting before you build it, and it’s important to provide them with assurances you will deliver something in line with their branding, identity and expectations of their site.

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Your Blog Post is Boring and Obvious

When I have a problem or I’m stuck creatively, I turn to the Internet. I follow people on Twitter, I read blogs and I poke my head into sites that redistribute content I like. I’m sometimes in awe at the level at which people are thinking and what they are sharing.

Other times, however, I’ve read content I consider to be lazy and unnecessary. But what I’ve come to realize is that, sometimes, content that seems boring and obvious to me is content that wasn’t written for me. So even if a blog topic might seem like useless clutter on your otherwise brilliant site, it could be just the thing someone else is looking for.

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WWOSAL? (What Would Our Specific Audience Like?)

One thing we’ve started to do in the early stages of site building is documenting the audience. Before we write anything, design anything, develop any features or even brew a pot of coffee and think about doing those things, we develop a document that outlines the exact audience for the site.

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Don't Tell Our Content Guy We Wrote This

Over the past few years, our industry has placed more and more value on content strategy. As we’ve come to understand the Internet and its users better, we’ve learned content is the dominant force in communication. Content strategy and good writing ensures a website works toward achieving client goals, beyond simple aesthetics. When Kobot decided we wanted to grow our two-person shop, we felt it was important that the new person bring content skills to the table. With a background in journalism and a growing interest in content strategy for the web, the addition of Bryan Birtles to our company a year ago has helped us in ways you might expect a content guy to, as well as ways you wouldn’t.

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How We Built This Website

Last year, when we set out to build our own website, we realized that while we have lots of experience building CMS-based websites for our clients, working on our own site gave us a unique opportunity to get our hands dirty and learn some new tools and techniques that we might not otherwise get to use.

Instead of using Kobot’s custom CMS or WordPress, we chose to use Jekyll, a popular static site generator.

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