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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

You should follow me on Twitter.

Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Video Monday 4: Applying the Storytelling Blog Formula

This post applies my storytelling blog formula (story, content, offer) to a friend's blog project. Hopefully this illustrates it a little better and shows how you can approach your blogging projects.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Does tweeting lead to more action or less?

So at last night's Third Wednesday we discussed social media for social activism. Or, more accurately, if doing things like joining Facebook groups or tweeting about a cause even counts as activism.

The discussion was kicked off by some great points by Allison. She suggested that, well, tweeting is lazy and it doesn't really accomplish much by itself, but it's better than nothing.

The discussion was fairly animated, with lots of different points and points of view.

Here's where I stand, and I'd love to hear what you think:

Ala Clay Shirky's points about social media and action, I think that the more people you make aware, the more people you'll have actually do something. This is because you're always only ever going to have a small percentage of people willing to get off their asses. But, if you make tons and tons and tons of people aware (like, by tweeting) that small percentage will amount to a fairly large number of people. So, if only 1% of people who are aware will take action, it's better if there are tons and tons of people aware. So, in that sense, tweeting can help.

BUT: '"Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed," writes Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby. "Once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a 'premature sense of completeness.'"' Link.

So, does tweeting count as doing something or talking about something? Does this mean that some or many of the people who tweet about a cause have made themselves less likely to actually do something, because now they feel like they already have?

But wouldn't people who are likely to get off their asses feel that tweeting isn't enough even if they do send out a couple just to tell other people?

I think I'd still suggest that more awareness could likely lead to more action. Yes, talking about something might make some people less likely to do something, but it would probably make a larger group more interested in taking action. Yes, I just used the words, think, likely, might, and probably.

What do you think?

Image from flickr user Petteri Sulonen

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Traditional" media isn't a thing

Traditional doesn't mean better.

"Traditional" doesn't even mean good. It means what we used to do, for a long time.

The traditional way to cure illnesses is by draining blood, or using magic herbs, or any number of other things that don't really work all that well. Or at least not as good as newer, better things.

But why would we refer to "traditional" media as something worth doing, just because we used to do it?

The "traditional" way to get from New York to California is to ride a horse there. Or maybe the train. Or hey, maybe even to drive. But that's not the fastest, cheapest, or at all most efficient way to get there, is it?

Does it matter if your method is "traditional" or not? Is it good? Will it work the best? The traditional way to lose weight is by eating well and exercising, which is still the best way.

That's all that really matters. I'm not saying that some older ways of doing things aren't still the best ways. I'm just saying that old doesn't mean good anymore than new does.

Also, using the internet isn't new, it's now.

Breaking budgets up into traditional and new (yes, some companies do this) is dumb, too. Break up budgets into stuff we really, really think will work, and stuff that might not, but is worth trying. And just because it's the older way, the way we've always done it, the traditional way, doesn't mean it's any more likely to work.

Buying lots of targeted Facebook ads to drive traffic to a website will probably work. Is that new media, or traditional? It's a pretty simple, tried and tested approach for getting people to a website. It works, I've done it many times myself. But it's also using Facebook, which isn't that old a platform.

So do the words "traditional" and "new" really help us? I'm not so sure.


Image by Flickr user Otto Phokus

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My uncomfortable infatuation with Batman

Because some people want to miss the point, I need to state here that, yes, I know that Bruce Wayne isn't Batman right now.

So, I love Batman. Like, probably too much.

If you've seen me speak, or have had more than one or two conversations with me you know this.

I'm not a comic book expert, I haven't read all of the Batman books, and I don't know every detail (not even most details), but that's not the point.

My desk at work is decorated with Batman toys and sticker story adventures that someone sent me. I don't wear bandaids that aren't Batman themed. No one who knows me has any trouble thinking of something to buy me because I'm always happy to get something Batman-related.

So, why? What is it about Batman?

It's the character, it's the story, it's the context. It's the fact that everything that happens to Batman, and everything he does, everything he is, is informed by his past.

There's a depth to the character's history, a yearning, a powerful reserve of sadness and hope that defines him.

There could be a Batman book where all he does is go shopping for new Bat-socks and it would mean something. Because we know so much about Bruce Wayne, how he thinks and feels, that we could read into every single thing he does a deeper meaning.

And a Batman bandaid means something to me because of that. It's not a bandaid, it's part of a story. It's meaningful, if only slightly.

Because of all the context.

And the context of Batman, the backstory, the mythos, the whole deal is just incredible.

That's why I love Batman.

Who knows, maybe all this "context" and "storytelling" nonsense is actually important. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two from Batman.

Before you start reading the comments, you might want to go and click the Drama Button. Link via Ryan Deschamps.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Video Monday 2: What's a story?

My second Video Monday post about what a blog story means to me.

Video is shaky at the beginning of this one. Video Mondays are a work in progress.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The keys to a storytelling blog

To get people to care about your blog they have to not care at all about your "blog." And they shouldn't. Just words on a page, after all. They need to care about things much more interesting than that.

Those things are:

The story. The content. The offer.

I'm going to run through what each of these pieces mean, specifically, and hopefully provide a few examples that make sense.

I'm not certain this is perfect. And this mostly applies to blogs that have a key person or character behind them.

The Story
The story is the overall narrative of your blog. It's the lens through which your readers view your work and share it with others.

Is your blog about limiting your net carbon impact on the planet? Then the story is your journey, your struggle, your experiences. Conflicts, crises, resolutions, successes, and so on.

Is your blog personal, talking about what happens in your daily life? Then you are the story. What's happened to you before, what's going on right now, and how that affects what you do and write about.

It's like a novel. The individual pages are the content (see below), and they build upon or draw from the story (what's happened before, what you know about the characters, etc.), but the two are somehow separate pieces of the same book.

The story of your blog is, well, the "point." What do you care about and why are you writing in the first place?

The Content
Each post (or podcast episode, or vlog, or whatever) either builds upon or draws from the story. It fuels the greater conversation about your blog.

This is the stuff you write everyday, that you control. Ideally, each of these contain their own stories that play off of the grander story of the blog.

When someone reads a post, or shares it, or talks about it, or feels something because of it, it's all done through the lens of the greater story. The posts themselves are the content, the story is the context, and they combine to fuel the conversation and help sell the offers.

The Offer
This is the Why Should Anyone Give a Shit? part. When someone reads your blog, what do they get out of it? What can they get out of it? Are you literally selling something they might want to purchase? Or are you teaching them something valuable?

In the case of the No Impact Man, maybe you're just making them feel like they're better people for caring. That's pretty huge by itself.

You can have more than one offer, or sell, too. Hugh, for instance, sells marketing knowledge, keys to creativity, and he literally sells stuff. They all offer you, the reader, something big in return for caring about the blog.

The Combination
So it's in figuring out all these parts and having them work together smoothly that leads to an interesting formula for producing something worth caring about. This sort of combination is what fuels interesting conversations. Gets people talking about your blog, and you, and why anyone should care.

I think.

So if you've got the drive to write, or are tasked with maintaining a blog for your company, you might want to try working out what each of these pieces will be for you, and see what happens.


J-Money's The story is Jelisa's life. We know she's kind of broke, loves running, and has had plenty of hilarious dating misadventures. And she's trying to get more professional writing work. The content are her posts about what goes on in her life. If she talks about running, or writing, it builds upon what we already know about how she feels about those. The offer is that her posts are hilarious, they give you something to chuckle at. And you can hire her to write for you if you want.

Hugh Macleod's
: The story is Hugh living in Alpine, Texas, doing some futile marketing and making awesome artwork after having been a traditional ad man for 10 years. The content are his cartoons and marketing insights (often the same thing). The offer is learning about marketing, inspiration, what you can buy from him (plus many more things). Story -- A, well, vegan dad who wants his family to be healthy and eat great food. He's got a few boys and a brand new vegan daughter, and he wants to share the cool food he makes for them with other vegans. Content -- Amazing recipes. They're usually fairly simple because we know from the overall story that he's a busy guy. Offer -- Great recipes that you can try yourself. And you get to learn that no matter how busy you might be, you can always find time to eat right and cook great food.

Jesse Thorn's Story -- Jesse Thorn, 28, is living his dream of hosting a public radio show (and podcasts), despite the odds (it doesn't really make him much money). He struggles, he finds success, and you're on the journey with him of living his dream. Content -- The episodes and blog posts themselves. The things he creates and controls. Each episode of his show or podcasts are framed by the fact that he's young, fairly broke, but having a huge amount of fun interviewing his heroes and hanging out with his friends. Offers -- His shows are hilarious and informative, he asks for donations to support his work, and you feel like you're part of an exclusive club of awesome.

So what do you think?