Back in the fall of 2011, I bought a few books about content management, hoping I would make it my career. Although this hasn’t really happened (yet), I still find the books I bought useful for my PR studies and my work with several clients on their web content strategies.
Among the books I picked up is Colleen Jone’s Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content. This book started well: an interesting combination of marketing, psychology and rhetoric. However, as soon we hit the later chapters, it becomes too practical and superficial for my tastes.
I found the early chapters interesting: they take apart the idea of “influence” and explain how to turn this to your advantage. I especially enjoyed the analysis of the goals of your content vs. what kind of attitudes or actions you want to instill in your readers. I appreciated the chapters on the psychology of influence and rhetoric. If you thought that ancient Greek philosophy is irrelevant today, think again. I came out with a sudden desire to read Aristotle’s Rhetoric again.
Outside of these early chapters though, I found that most of it was common sense and not very useful for someone who wants to deepen their understanding of online influence. It has a few useful tables laying out what actions should be taken for what objective, but it ends up not going very deep into the strategic side of things. It’s very much a technical book, rather than a strategic one.
Taken all together, this is a quick technical textbook that tells a lot of “what”, but not a lot of “how” or “why”. I could see it used in an introductory course on web content management or web content marketing, or even writing or web project management. However, for those with a mind that require theory rather than practice, this book will leave you hungry for more.
Clout has one redeeming quality: the amount of sources and suggested further reading. There’s a lot of content to pick if you go read those other books. She uses theory that exists in other works, but doesn’t expand on them. If your interests take you deeper, then the reference list should be your first stop after you’re done.