Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Have You Zeen It?

Last week was a post on influence and I was going to write a post following up on that, but if my stats are any indication, you all are sick of hearing about influencers*. So, let's talk about Zeen.

What Is Zeen?

Zeen is a platform for creating a digital magazine. You can add your original content, pictures, videos, etc. or link to content on the web. It's a quick way to curate content that has relevance to your small nonprofit and get it out to your community via social communications.

You could put together photos from an event with stories and video on one page, then on another page, use infographics related to a program. You could create a magazine that highlights some special volunteers or partners and includes links to their pages or YouTube channels. Text, photos, video, and links can all be added either by uploading or from a link.

For Example?

For example, you know how round-ups work, right? A blog finds several good pieces of content and displays them in list format. Zeen allows you to do something like that, only better. Let's say I wanted to put together some writing tips. I decide I want to highlight some information on communicating, avoiding Tom Swifty style adverbs, dealing with rhythm and flow, so I find some blog posts and video on those subjects. But instead of publishing a bulleted list with links, I log into Zeen and start a new digital magazine:

Currently, they offer nine themes (seen at the far right of the screen). You can also select from a fair number of typefaces for the titles and the paragraph text.

You begin with the cover and add pages as you need to.

For each page, you can add as little or as much content as you like. Each piece of content is handled as a module and each module can be edited separately from the others as well as have its order on the page changed or the pages themselves can be reordered.

The Table of Contents is created automatically, and is revised whenever you change page titles or page positions. Zeen also automatically saves your work as you progress.

Right now, Zeen doesn't allow sound except through video and the stats are limited to Zeen views, which includes any viewing by you when you edit. Also, there's no way to embed the Zeen - it must be viewed at the Zeen site.

The Finished Product

When you're ready, you click Publish and your magazine is saved to your account. You then have the option of posting a Facebook update, making a Tweet or updating to Google+.  Your published Zeen has its own URL which you can copy and paste into emails or use in other ways. (To see my finished experiment, visit my Zeen page.)

Zeen is in beta right now, but it's not closed - all you have to do to use it is sign up. Take a look and see how a digital magazine might fit into your social communication plan. If you're already using Zeen, drop the URL in the comments - I'd love to see what you're doing with it.

* Let me know in the comments if you would like a post on getting to know influencers and their followers.


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