Random content marketing-inspired snippets

Here are some more random marketing and language-related bits and bobs.

Check your facts for content marketing excellence

FullFact is a UK-based fact-checking organisation.  They provide excellent free tools, advice and information so “anyone can check the claims we hear from politicians and the media”.

If you’re short on blog post inspiration, it’s a brilliant source of unexpected and inspirational truths to make your posts unique. Something relatively simple like going the extra mile to track down the real truth can make your content marketing stand clear of the madding crowd.

The Truth – It’s a tabloid, Jim, but not as we know it…

Leading on from the last bit, if I was a multi-millionaire I’d set up a new tabloid newspaper. And I’d call it The Truth.

Broadsheet readers already have access to the truth, since their journalists are much less likely to lie, gossip, exaggerate, make things up and ‘misremember’. But tabloid readers are royally stuffed.

To redress the balance I’d start a newspaper that reported the unvarnished, fact-checked truth in the most entertaining and interesting way possible. And I wouldn’t hound celebrities either. I’d report everything with honour, integrity, honesty and decency.

I wonder if it’d be a hit. Or would it hemorrhage cash hand over fist?

Google Glass and the Babel fish

Google Glass, meet Douglas Adams. Apparently the search giant’s Glass technology has brought the weird world of the Babel fish a little bit closer.

The what? If you wouldn’t recognise a Babel fish if one bit you, here’s what Urban Dictionary says about one of the oddest creatures in a  very odd bunch created by the author of the marvellously silly book and telly series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

The Babel fish is small yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier, but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the unconscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them.
The practical upshot of this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

What’s the story? A load of clever geeks at Quest Visual have developed a new Glass app called WordLens. It lets the wearer see an instant translation of a foreign language on the Glass display. No typing, no fannying about. And one more reason why I’ll be first in line when Google’s masterpiece of an interface finally hits the shops.


What is b-commerce? It’s all about the not-so-humble Bitcoin, which is capable of revolutionising online transactions by completely cutting out the payment system, bank and credit card middle-men.

Apparently transactions could easily be arranged, verified and recorded automatically, completely outside of the traditional payment methods we’re used to. And it would cause enormous social and commercial disruption. Which isn’t always a bad thing, bearing in mind the abiding love and respect we have for our bankers… not.

Right now, with Bitcoin’s less than savoury ‘dark web’ reputation still an issue, it seems unlikely. But look at how online shopping has changed. When it first caught on, it was pretty edgy stuff. A few scant years down the line it’s about as dodgy as your nana, wearing her favourite pale blue cardigan, sitting in a chair with a cup of Bovril, watching Antiques Roadshow. In other words, not very dodgy at all.

100% irresistible storytelling

I know, I know… I’m always banging on about New Scientist. But it’s consistently brilliant, an inspiration for any self-respecting copywriter.

This time I’m featuring an absolutely faultless piece of copy, written to introduce a fascinating 18 page feature later in the issue. It’s magical stuff. If you could resist wanting to know more after reading this, you’re a much better man than I:

“Fewer people have been there than have walked on the moon.” The places that can make that claim – the ocean deeps, the bowels of huge caves – tend to be few and far between. But not all mysterious places are physically remote. Every human on the planet visits one of the most peculiar every single day – or rather, night. Think of night as a place, rather than a time, and its oddity becomes apparent. It has its own wildlife and its own climate, which is changing in its own way. Nor are the night’s human residents quite like those of the day. Our bodies change radically while we sleep, as do our minds. And those of us who regularly stay up past bedtime may be putting our health on the line. So the night still holds its terrors. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

The relevance to content marketing? If you can make your content as deliciously irresistible as this, readers will fight each other to read it instead of fighting to reach the exit.

When a Google search doesn’t cut the mustard

Google works perfectly well for straightforward searches. But it’s still rubbish at interpreting natural human language. What if you want to put a name to a face, or find a smoking-friendly holiday home where you can take your nine cats, five minutes’ walk from a Chinese restaurant with a belly dancer on tap? Google just doesn’t cut the mustard… but ask a few thousand humans and you’ll soon get the information you need.

Introducing DataSift, a new type of search engine that uses crowdsourced intelligence to answer questions far too vague, complicated or ‘visual’ for regular search engine algorithms to decode and fulfil. It works by breaking queries into chunks that’re easy for humans to answer via Mechanical Turk and other crowdsourcing sites. But because humans are inherently unreliable, DataSift then runs a web search to check the human-generated answers, and feeds the results back to another bunch of humans to confirm. It’s this final confirmatory step that makes DataSift so good at filtering out and surfacing the right answers, even if the majority of the humans asked got the answer wrong.

We really do live in interesting times.

What if your customers don’t do Christmas?

We don’t all celebrate Christmas in Britain. We’re a multi-cultural society. If you want to send season’s greetings to your customers and prospects, how do you avoid alienating, annoying or offending people? Here are three safe festive messages you can send to everyone and his dog:

  • Wishing you a relaxing, enjoyable winter holiday and a positive, lucrative 2014
  • Whatever your religion, taste or tradition, we hope you have a wonderful winter break
  • Here’s to a profitable, enjoyable, inspirational New Year – Happy winter holidays!

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