What do you think about all this writing for work and fun?

Almost everyone is a writer. That’s one of the dramatic changes that computers have created in our work lives.

More recently, the growth of social media has many people writing for pleasure, which had been out of fashion since the telephone was invented.

People are handling the writing themselves for two reasons: (1) With writing volumes so high, most companies save only the most important work for the professionals. Many small businesses try to do it all themselves. (2) Blogging and other social media expect everyone to be their own author.

Recently Darren Rowse at Problogger asked his readers whether they outsource any of their blogging activities.

Only 29 per cent of his nearly 2,200 respondents outsource at all. Writing trailed technical work and design on his list of outsourced activities. He didn’t attach any numbers, though I’ve asked, but I’m assuming that means the vast majority of people write their own blogs.

This suggests that most blogging is done by people whose core competence is not writing. And of course almost everyone on Facebook, Linkedin or other social media does something else for a living.

What are the implications?

Are people getting results and enjoying this writing or is this one of the reasons so many blogs are abandoned? As the people commenting pointed out, the more successful the blog, the more likely are people to outsource.

Are these amateur writers willing to sharpen their skills, much as they would if they started coding their blog? My experience is that the better writers love to learn, but the bad ones are often convinced they’re doing just fine.

Does the ease and brevity mean that micro-blogging will outlive longer blogs?

What writing styles are emerging?

Just as we’re seeing fewer people tweet about what they had for lunch and more about helpful insights and links, will Facebook become less about dull scores and whining and more sparkling updates? Some of my Facebook friends, who aren’t trained writers, create the most intriguing updates. I’m watching you so I can learn.

Will these vast social media archives be mined for posterity, much as personal letters and diaries became part of the literature and history of pre-telephone times?

Lots of questions. Any answers?

Tortoises, transit hubs, tiny screens and other predictions

Yesterday I read 100 expert predictions for content marketing and social media at junta42. I cannot fit so many ideas into my crystal ball, let alone my brain, but here are the three that stand out for me: (1) holistic content marketing (2) that flows through social media and (3) works with mobile.

I hope these trends mean that we’ll simply get better at using all the new tools.

The tortoise will gain on the hare
Slow content marketing will continue to creep up on fast sales tactics because of the value of educating and endearing people to create loyal customers and fans.

Because content marketing involves a clear message delivered on multiple platforms, we’ll see businesses get more bang for their buck by recycling articles, stories and other content. For example, an article in your newsletter becomes a blog post (or vice versa), a chapter of a book, a tweet, part of a live presentation and more.

Social media becomes Grand Central Station
This content will increasingly flow through the transit hubs of Twitter, Facebook and other social media. This not only delivers the content to more destinations, but also increases search engine rankings, sort of like social media frequent flyer points.

Although many people stampeded into this area this year, the number of people hammering sales messages with little added-value content will dwindle.

Instead of automating more for easy one-size-fits-all delivery, the smart ones will become adept at tailoring links to the idiosyncrasies of different social media sites and the people who use them.

More reading on small screens
With the continued proliferation of mobile, email marketers will rely less on graphics, especially if they have image-unfriendly BlackBerry readers. Those text-only, left-leaning emails will become shorter and more to the point, as marketers wake up to the fact that most people are too busy to keep scrolling to the punch line.

With all media, we’ll see fewer, better images, that enhance the content, rather than simply pretty up a page.

And don’t bet on more tiny television viewing. Most people will save that for the big screen at home.

Please save me from bad video
Many of the Junta42 experts proclaimed 2010 the year of video. Despite the explosion of YouTube, I think the poor quality of too many videos means that growth will slow.

To the people with the video cams pointed at their face, I say: badly lit, static talking head clips may be fun to produce, but they’re boring to watch. Besides, unless you have content that demands action visuals and sound, I’d rather read because it’s faster. I expect to be busy in 2010.

Wild cards
I laughed when I read the Junta 42 prediction that electricity will be in short supply and we’ll have to cart around content in wheel barrels. When I checked back later, it was gone. Or maybe I was too tired to find it.

Aside from the laugh, this prediction reminded me of the need to reserve space for wild cards in my crystal ball. You can extrapolate future trends from what you see today, but you can’t predict a cataclysmic event that will topple the electrical grid or the bird that’s going to poop on your head.

Are you sponge-worthy?

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Elaine decides to save her contraceptive sponges, which are being pulled from the  shelves, for the best guys. She called them sponge-worthy. The humour came in part from the awkward, pretentious sound of sponge-worthy.

Now social media gurus are adopting the term shareworthy. Without the hyphen, which implies it’s been around a while, as in trustworthy.

I was recently annoyed by the repeated use of shareworthy in an otherwise excellent webinar by Silverpop on applying social media to email newsletters. I even visited their blog post on the subject.

But why could they not have simply said “worth sharing?” Do you think they were trying to be funny?