It’s another Friday the 13th, but what a beautiful one it is here in Portland. A perfect summer day shaping up. I hope it’s nice where you are too, although we’ve had a run on severe weather around the world – between fires in Russia to floods in Pakistan and Iowa. Here are my top five this week – the posts on content marketing and innovation captured my attention and are driving the work I’m currently doing.

On developing actionable marketing content- this is a great example in how copying one successful viral campaign (Old Spice) doesn’t work as Cisco found out by trying to do the same thing on the cheap. And ended with something less than memorable. This post provides seven recommendations for how to make your content more relevant and compelling. And with the proliferation of content everywhere – and as more companies jump on the content bandwagon, it’s only going to get tougher to create the kind of useful and entertaining content your customers and prospects will be inspired to share.

On the heals of creating content that incites action, Valeria Maltoni discusses further what makes up good content, listing several ways content can help form the right connections, and most importantly (imo) why it doesn’t scale (i.e. it’s very time consuming and expensive to produce). She also reminds us that we’re still in the early days of content marketing and everyone’s still learning what works and what doesn’t. While there are some best practices to draw from, always remember that you’re free to innovate, which the next post does a nice job with the “how”.

Innovation. It’s often elusive and hard to sustain when we’re working through the busy work that selfishly hogs our time. Sometimes we make things harder than they need to do. As business gets more complex and more competitive, we need simplicity. Apple is undoubtedly one of the best at innovation and executing simplicity. Tony Schwartz outlines six fundamental actions leaders need to take to create a culture of innovation and creativity. He also notes that he’s never seen one company do all six. Sounds like an opportunity to me.

We’ve all heard about sites like Please Rob Me that highlight the pitfalls of sharing when you’re going to be away via your various social media outlets. I know I’ve taken to sharing where I’ve been versus where I’m at especially when out of town. Location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla are really cool – and fun to use, but sometimes¬† it’s a little too public. But Neer looks like the start of alternatives that only share your location with your private contacts.

There isn’t one right way to engage with your customers via social media. You need to ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what is the most beneficial for your customers. The goal, of course, is to forge a long-term relationship between your customers and your brand. Here’s a great overview of five different approaches to consider BEFORE you start rolling out the tools. From game-show host to good friend.

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