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Ready to Share: Packaging Your Digital Content

Chris Johanesen of Buzzfeed says that publishers should ban slideshows. Can we get a round of applause? They are remanants, like pageviews and the ‘like‘ button, of the beginnings of everything digital. Nothing fills me with a sense of dread more than clicking on a link and realizing there are ten, 30 page slideshows at the bottom of the story. It’s why it’s hard to read certain sites.

And of course, slideshows and the pageview complex go hand in hand. Johansen writes that you can’t trick people into sharing content, which is how Buzzfeed considers engagement. Which is sort of interesting in that, while also ploys to get readers to click through and add to the tally, slideshows are also perfect packages of content to share. Like silly lists.

Sometimes, content is made for slideshows. A collection of really great photos, be it of a newsworthy event or a fashion spread, that enhance a story is one. But who has a staff photographer anymore?

Other kinds of niche content will still exist in slideshow form as long as we’re clicking though on desktops, too. I’ve recently made grilling a bit of a hobby and when I’m browsing for ideas, I click through Food and Wine collections, in the same way my grandmother used to peruse her tattered recipe box.  Maybe they’re tricking me into monetizing their site for them, but there’s something inherently ‘browse-worthy’ about food and restauarant pages, much like travel.

As our content all ends up mobile, we’re going to have to be more innovative about packaging it. Even good tablet versions of good magazine just replicate the print version of the magazine, like Wired or the Atlantic, with some extra features and links. Meanwhile, content like this spread here, should just be one colorful, interactive page on the web, sort of like it used to be in the magazine.

Slideshows, and lists, will only die when mobile content really subsumes your desktop view. Do you think slideshows are ever anything but a way to garner pageviews? Are you encouraged to create them?

Photo c/o The Huffington Post

Can MediaWire Bridge the Cross-Platform Gap?

Developing a comprehensive digital experience for a publication is no small task. While very few outlets have the financing and manpower to produce a custom app, the low-cost appeal of micropublishing could leave organizations still wanting more — especially when it forces you to choose between platforms rather than catering to all of them.

Cross-platform experiences are the goal of MediaWire, a new startup that enables publishers to create and distribute their publications directly through smartphone stores. Unlike some micropublishing apps, MediaWire charges a flat fee per upload and leaves the revenue from sales alone.

The tool already publishes apps to the Apple App store and Google Play, with BlackBerry App World and Windows Store to follow. MediaWire is one of the only companies that supports all of these devices from a single source, meaning that it’s a good candidate to use for digital publishing if the goal is to be truly cross platform across all mediums. MediaWire also allows for users to share publications across major social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, for no extra cost.  Read more

Are Hashtags Useful?

Of all of the techniques, strategies, flotsam and jetsam to spawn from social media since its meteoric rise in the mid-2000′s, there may be nothing as polarizing as the hashtag. Some users utilize hashtags any chance that they get, others see them as an aesthetic and textual nuisance.

But the real question is: are hashtags useful in any real way?

Today, another social network, Vine, announced the platform-wide adoption of hashtag-focused organization and search. Vine CTO Nick Kroll wrote in a blog post for the company:

“To surface that content, we’re introducing trending hashtags, which show you the fastest-rising hashtags on Vine. These hashtags signify those that have moved up quickly in popularity; they aren’t necessarily the hashtags with the most posts.”

Using hashtags to track trends has been the mode of choice not only for Vine parent company Twitter, but also for Flickr, Path and Instagram. Last month, there was even talk of Facebook taking up the hashtag trend, though the social media giant has remained silent on the topic. On the surface, incorporating a searchable component based on hashtags is a helpful thing: users would be able to discover topics and search for what they want quickly, without having to bother with further context. Read more

4 Great Apps to Replace Google Reader

Last week, the world let out a collective sigh in exasperation when Google announced that it would be “winding down” its long-running RSS service, Google Reader. While it stands to be an inconvenience for some, it’s an earth-shattering one for journalists who rely on Google Reader’s services daily to pick up on beats and understand what competitors are running every day.

If you’re still concerned about how where to go after Google Reader shutters on July 1st of this year, then fear not: there are plenty of reasonable and free alternatives to port your sources. Here’s a roundup of a few apps that will fit your individual needs as a news-consuming journalist and also give you a great RSS experience without breaking your budget.

What’s your favorite RSS alternative? Let us know in the comments!

1. For Those Who Want the Old Google Back: The Old Reader

The Old Reader is exactly what it claims to be: a recreation of the Google Reader as it was in 2011, before the introduction of the new design and share features to align the product with Google+. The free service is still in beta, but is able to seamlessly import an existing RSS feed list. The design is minimal — like the classic Google Reader — and allows users to follow other people and share their stories easily on Facebook or via email.

The app has already gotten a flood of beta invite requests from users eager to port over as soon as possible, so the teeny startup behind the app is overwhelmed. However, with a new mobile app on the horizon, it’s easy to guess that The Old Reader will be the closest to a Google experience as possible. Read more

3 Micropublishing Platforms to Start Your Publication

The world of publishing is treacherous. Today, coming up with enough capital to fully staff, produce and publish a magazine is a daunting task — and making a profit off of it is almost impossible.

But, it turns out, a new trend is rising that could help startup magazines produce, and even monetize, new and interesting digital content. Although micropublishing is not new — its roots date back into the book industry, when small Print On Demand books would get published — it has been an increasingly lucrative concept as more of the general public owns eReaders and tablets.  And, while its become popular among authors to produce micro-stories on platforms such as Kindle Singles, journalists now have the opportunity to ride micropublishing’s wave. Startups are scrambling to create proprietary CMS and publishing platforms that encourage anyone to produce a magazine.

Here is just a sampling of some of the different ways you can bring a digital edition of your startup publication to the hands of readers. They have different prices and limitations, but they should help you get thinking about whether micropublishing is right for you.

What do you think of micropublishing as a concept? Let us know in the comments.

1.  Zeen: Micro-Micro Publishing

If your work is less of a magazine and more of a one-off long read or a compendium of short articles with a single, then Zeen is the right choice for your micropublishing needs. Currently in Beta, Zeen is a free micropublishing website that enables users to input their own content, enrich it with multimedia (including pictures, video and maps), and lay it out in a “zine-like” digital format for publish to social media accounts or a personal blog. Read more

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