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Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content [Paperback]

Colleen Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 3 2010 0321733010 978-0321733016 1
Results. Everyone wants them, whether to sell more products, spread good ideas, or win more funding. In our busy digital world, the way to results is influencing people on the web. But how?

An ad campaign won't cut it. A Twitter account doesn't guarantee it. Manipulative tricks will backfire. Instead, you need quality, compelling web content that attracts people and engages them for the long haul.
 
Clout explains the key principles of influence and how to apply them to web content. Along the way, those principles come to life with lots of practical examples. With this book, you'll:
  • Discover why a technology feature, marketing campaign, SEO effort, or redesign aren't enough to influence online.
  • Understand the business value of compelling web content. 
  • Learn 8 principles for influence from the art of rhetoric and the science of psychology.
  • Find out what context is and why it's so important to influence.
  • Jump start your planning for content over time with patterns and diagrams.
  • Learn the basics of evaluation to determine whether your web content is making a difference.

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From the Back Cover


About the Author

Colleen Jones is principal of Atlanta-based Content Strategy, a boutique strategy consultancy with clients such as The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Cingular Wireless (now AT and T), Intercontinental Hotels, Home Depot and other large brands. Her popular website, leenjones.com is updated daily with rich content. She has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Technical Communication from James Madison University. She's chairman of CHI Atlanta, and participated in the IA Summit's 2009 landmark Content Strategy Consortium.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent overview... but lacks any specifics Sept. 20 2012
Format:Paperback
Clout is more of an intro to the types of content, how to plan for content, what to do when you hit roadblocks, etc., but it does a poor job of providing anything specific with respect to creating content. The part of this book that actually discusses creating content (framing, social proof, etc.) is limited to about 20 pages, while the rest is left to other things surrounding the subject of content.

If you're looking for an overall intro to content, this book is a decent read. If you're looking for specific strategies for content creation, find something else.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome, succinct summary of a nascent topic Dec 30 2010
By Andrew Maier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First, I'd like to say that I normally don't write book reviews. Being a student of the web, I read *a lot* of material and I typically don't have time to write a reaction. But every once and a while, something strikes me as noteworthy. Clout is just such a book.

Having run an industry publication on User Experience Design for quite some time, I'm of course familiar with the discipline of Content Strategy. Unfortunately, though, running it means that most of what I read online or hear at conferences sounds the same. "Yes, I know I have to prioritize things and think strategically about content, thanks." What I like about Clout is how novel it really is. In short, Clout:

(1) Got my attention: its a new angle on what could easily be seen as a tired subject.
(2) Is very "practice" driven: I don't like reading about theory, I want to see how content strategy functions in the real world.
(3) Is for beginners and experts: Clout starts small--a bit of history--and ends with a bang, a call to action for all web professionals.

The author, Colleen, did a great job gathering insightful case studies and overseeing the creation of illustrative diagrams. Reading about content strategy is one thing, but *seeing* it is quite another, and Clout delivers. I find it quite remarkable that such an unassuming volume delivers such a high quantity of information. Here you'll also find some of the major takeaways from books such as Groundswell and Here Comes Everybody.

So, save yourself some reading and grab a copy of Clout. For the budding content strategist, blogger, entrepreneur, etc., I highly recommend it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Web Developers who care about content should read this book Jan. 17 2011
By Craig M. Oliver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a web developer, I don't get very close to the content. In fact, over the years, I've become blind to it when coding clients' websites. It might as well be "lorum ipsum" gibberish like that found on Microsoft Word templates. Granted without this content there would be no websites for me to work on. Well...at least there shouldn't be. There are many sites out there that put the technical effort into the coding and treat the content as an afterthought. Content should in fact come first, before coding. This requires developing a proper content strategy and a plan to implement it.

In Clout, the author Colleen Jones concisely outlines the methods and techniques that will aid the development of a successful Content Strategy. There are numerous real-world examples that support the core principles of context, rhetoric and psychology. She advises content creators to turn off their fire hose of information, suggesting effective, proven tools to reach people. These techniques are proven to filter out the static.

This book is a top resource regarding the implementation of content strategy. Clients who are inexperienced or non-technical usually don't understand why developers can't make the gibberish better. Content just isn't our forte. Clout is a well-researched and authoritative source for developers who want to help their clients make content work.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Clout" Speaks to Everyone Who Works on the Web June 5 2011
By JACooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The beauty of "Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content" is that it addresses the needs of so many varied groups of people and does it well.

Everyone who needs to understand the power of content -- from executives to entrepreneurs, marketers and PR specialists to strategists and content creators -- will find critical, practical knowledge in this book that they can put to use immediately. And the best part is, author Colleen Jones begins the book by telling each group exactly which parts of the book they should read to get the most out of it.

As someone who's worked with web content for more than 10 years, I can say that no matter which group you fall into, "Clout" will give you a new perspective on Web content and on the people who read it and use it. Consider this book a step-by-step guide to accomplishing your online goals, whatever they may be.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well, but loses interest fast. April 15 2012
By Anabelle Bernard Fournier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Back in the fall of 2011, I bought a few books about content management, hoping I would make it my career. Although this hasn't really happened (yet), I still find the books I bought useful for my PR studies and my work with several clients on their web content strategies.

Among the books I picked up is Colleen Jone's Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content. This book started well: an interesting combination of marketing, psychology and rhetoric. However, as soon we hit the later chapters, it becomes too practical and superficial for my tastes.

I found the early chapters interesting: they take apart the idea of "influence" and explain how to turn this to your advantage. I especially enjoyed the analysis of the goals of your content vs. what kind of attitudes or actions you want to instill in your readers. I appreciated the chapters on the psychology of influence and rhetoric. If you thought that ancient Greek philosophy is irrelevant today, think again. I came out with a sudden desire to read Aristotle's Rhetoric again.

Outside of these early chapters though, I found that most of it was common sense and not very useful for someone who wants to deepen their understanding of online influence. It has a few useful tables laying out what actions should be taken for what objective, but it ends up not going very deep into the strategic side of things. It's very much a technical book, rather than a strategic one.

Taken all together, this is a quick technical textbook that tells a lot of "what", but not a lot of "how" or "why". I could see it used in an introductory course on web content management or web content marketing, or even writing or web project management. However, for those with a mind that require theory rather than practice, this book will leave you hungry for more.

Clout has one redeeming quality: the amount of sources and suggested further reading. There's a lot of content to pick if you go read those other books. She uses theory that exists in other works, but doesn't expand on them. If your interests take you deeper, then the reference list should be your first stop after you're done.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Method Behind the Madness Oct. 26 2011
By Melody McKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having played this game since the 90's, I'm usually disappointed in books about content. Sometimes because they go on and on about nothing much at all. More often it's really not the author's fault, the book is just written for people starting at square one and I'm expecting too much.

I'm always on the hunt for something deeper. Something I can really sink my teeth into. Something tangible. Something that makes me THINK.

Colleen had me at chapter 1 - 'Same Road, Same Lack of Results'. The tricks, SEO snake oil, do this and you'll be a bazillionaire... I was oh so very tired of wading through that nonsense to find a tidbit or two of use.

Then she brings us into a practical place called reality. Our visitors are not suckers, they're not stupid, and they know when they're being played. We need to understand them so we can give them what they need, not try to manipulate them. The same goes for the entire process of creating influential content in general - we need to understand, and act based on that understanding, not attempt to manipulate factors and processes.

I'm one of those annoying individuals who has to have a five star review squeezed out of them with a giant vice. However, after spending almost an hour going back through the book searching for a negative point to balance this review with, I give up. She has earned the five stars and that's that!

If you're looking for a yellow brick road to follow to internet fame and fortune, this is not the book for you. If you're after something real to base your web strategy on, buy it, read it, refer to it often, and control your own success.
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