Content tacos or content chalupas?

Today is National Taco Day. (And of course, as a San Diego freelance copywriter I have written for several of our most famous taco chains.) My favorite place for tacos is El Indio, where I always order a veggie taco and a fish taco.



All this taco talk reminded me of the content taco concept Mark Schaefer talked about a couple of years ago at Social Media Marketing World. Taco Bell uses only 14 ingredients to make their super extensive menu. But they’re pretty good at throwing in an unexpected ingredient to mix things up.

 For example, Taco Bell’s bread and butter is their taco. You need to eat a couple of hem for a meal. Taco Bell switches up the menu with the Chalupa, which features the same guts of a taco but adds a doughy shell that is fried so what you basically get is a donut taco. (Okay, so not healthy.)


What can you add to make your content different? I add sketchnotes to my content. Maybe you can do 1-minute explainer videos, or 1-minute answer your question videos, or gifs.  Instead of just writing about your 3 services, maybe you interview three different customers that each use a different service.

 What’s in your chalupla?

 Happy writing!   :)



#smmw recap: How to be more human? Go live on video.

So when Zuckerberg announced the big adjustment to the Facebook algorithm, marketers dubbed the changes "Facebook Apocalypse." Guess what everyone was talking about at this year's Social Media Marketing World? That's right! Facebook Zero! Facebook Apocalypse!

Michael Stelzner summed it up in his keynote: "We've been about numbers too long." But what's the best way to communicate with people? Video! Go live on Facebook. Use Instagram stories. 

How to create a 1-minute live video.

Sure thing, we're all supposed to go live, but that can be pretty intimidating. Here's an easy format to follow to create short videos on Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Twitter or Linkedin that Dennis Yu and Logan Young of Blitzmetrics shared.



1. Tell a story. There's no opening bumper. No introducing yourself. Begin with a short story to illustrate a point.

2. State the problem. Link the story you just told to a problem that you're going to solve.

3. Introduce the solution. Offer up your answer to their problem. It can be a product, a service, a blog post, etc.

4. Call to action. What are they supposed to do? Make a purchase? Read a blog post? Enter your email address? Share? Click? Like?

Here is my first attempt at a Live Video in response to Dennis Yu's challenge. Why don't you take a try?

Below you'll find my sketchnotes from all the sessions I attended. I'll share more in the upcoming weeks.

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Monster Mashup: Mixing it up to create new ideas.

Can creativity be taught.

Well, yes and no. Coming up with “creative ideas” is a skill that can improve with time. And one of the basics of concepting new ideas is two mix two familiar ideas to create a third new one. Call it the creative mashup if you will.


And that’s what my family did on Halloween. We participated in a trunk or treat at our church, an event where people decorate their cars and costumes in a parking lot and the neighborhood kids visit. We were Skarif or Bust, a Star Wars visits the tropics theme. We had surfboards and a jet tail on the Millennium Van. I was Princess Lei. (Creative mashup + bad pun.)


So what are examples of creative mashups?

Night before Christmas + Halloween

Night before Christmas + Halloween

Classic movie monsters + high school drama

Classic movie monsters + high school drama

Santa Claus + Halloween

Santa Claus + Halloween

So the next time you're trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, promotion or even a Halloween costume, try mashing it up!

Happy writing!  :)




Scaling your story for social media.

I had the pleasure of being the guest on Dr. Mary Beth McCabe's Social Media / Mobile Marketing webinar series.

Catch the webinar here.

We talked about:

  • How the advertising/marketing game has changed
  • More businesses have the tools, but they still need the know how
  • Storytelling draws you in by your emotions
  • Scaling your story for social media
  • Social media platforms are tactics, not strategy
  • We also talked a little bit about my graphic recording practice
  • The importance of simplifying ideas in a 24/7 world
  • Sketching is a took for thinking.

Of course I made a sketchnote after our discussion.





About pages I love: ADAY

I don’t click on Facebook ads too often, but I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on an ad from ADAY, a line of technical/everyday/sporty clothes. Cute styles. Great writing. I loved their about page which was found under the navigation tab: Our Story.

ADAY’s about page opens up with a big airy headline that states their purpose: We wanted to simplify our wardrobes (and our lives). So we set out to create the wardrobe of the future. This line not only explains what they do (make clothes) but explains their  Why: (make life simpler.) This is the theme of their entire message.

Then a dotted line draws your eye further down with each descriptive adjective serving as a headline: technical, seasonless, sustainable. Great whimsical touch. The headlines make these three paragraphs very scannable.

Handwritten type adds sidebar facts and tidbits about the company. But it’s possible to get the gist of the company if you don’t read these captions. The not-quite-as-legible font encourages you to take a moment and read the captions.

Next a paragraph is set off against a simple photo. The headline is a Heart Grab, communicating that the founders of the company are like their customers: Because we value our lives like you do. And then they go into describing their backgrounds.

At the bottom of the page there are a couple of different calls to action for careers, be a test wearer, and an invitation to stop by their studio. A great headline sets up this section: We love meeting people who share our vision, so let’s get to know each other better.

I’m loving the copy and art direction on this site. Also loving the Something Borrowed Shirt.

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Happy writing!


TEDxSanDiego 2016 – The Age of Wonder

I recently  had the pleasure of attending TEDxSanDiego. This year's theme was The Age of Magic, a celebration of those things in life that fill us with a sense of wonder and awe.

Each talk is less than 10 minutes but each speaker works with a presentation coach to help them hone in on their story and presentation.

Spoken word artist Gill Sotu shared about the things in life that create ordinary magic.

Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, proposes that we have been approaching infectious diseases from the wrong perspective. She asks: how can we survive the infection, not just fight it.

Thomas Albright, Professor and Director, Vision Center Laboratory at the Salk Institute, lists three reasons why eyewitnesses fail: uncertainty, bias, and confidence. 

Dawn Barry, Vice President, Applied Genomics at Illumina reminded us that our DNA is not our destiny.

Natalie Kaczorowski, aka Comic Connie, asked what if being a super hero was normal.

Lex Gillette, 4-time paralympic world champion and world-record holder in the long jump, says there is no need for sight when you have a vision.

Justin Brooks, founder of  the California Innocence Project, once walked 712 miles from San Diego to Sacramento to convince the Governor to use this power to free 12 innocent people.

Scott Klemmer, co-founder and co-director of the Design Lab at UCSD, said prototyping was like a time machine to the future.

Regina Bernal, Entrepreneurship Manager, University of San Diego School of Business looked at the collaboration between Tijuana and San Diego as an example for the rest of the world.

Navrina Singh, Head of Qualcomm ImpaQt, encouraged us to think of oursleves like a SmartPhone: every day is a chance for a new version of yourself! 

Productivity expert Ellen Goodwin has made a study of the dive bars of San Diego—and the people that frequent them.

Kelly Mellos is an artist who encouraged Israeli and Palestinian teens paint portraits of each other and in the process everyone gained more empathy.

The rise and complete domination of live video.

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Social Media Marketing World here in San Diego. The big takeaway: live video is here.
Facebook Live gives you the ability to broadcast live to your friends, your business page or to a group. This creates an easy way to share live events or broadcast to your following. Facebook thinks so much of live video that they are giving Facebook Live top priority in their algorithm. Yep, if you want attention: go live on video.

Other interesting developments: looks like a fantastic alternative to Google hangouts and lets you talk with up to four people on screen and integrates text comments.

  • YouTube Connect is coming
  • Instagram increased the length of videos to 60 seconds
  • 39% of 18 to 32 year-olds are on Snapchat


Are you ready for a noisier stream?

When it comes to making a human connection, nothing beats video. You can give behind the scenes looks at what's going on. Having a commanding presence on live video will become an even more important business and social skill.

But just think how much longer it takes to watch a 30 second video than it takes to glance at a shot on Instagram. A lot of people just like to hear themselves talk. I see an even increasing need for filters. It will be interesting to watch the balance of authenticity and media overwhelm play out.


Yeah, I'm on Snapchat: @annemccoll

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All the #smmw16 sketchnotes: