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July 17, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's 269 Word Response to the Character of Our Content

Short and sweet on this one, just like Honest Abe did.

For my monthly column over at Inc.'s technology site I wrote something a little different than usual - The Character of Our Content. I thought of this because I get asked quite a bit about how much content is required to catch people's attention on the web. Or how long should posts be, how many times should I post, do I need funny pictures and videos? Many people focus on the mechanics of content automation and distribution. Others on worry more about the icing than they do the cake. Still others get discouraged because they perceive the investment in time will be too great.

But I really believe that the #1 most important thing in building your web cred, winning friends and influencing today's social customer is quality. It can be long or short, video or audio, daily or monthly, just make it good. And make it true to who you are and what you do.

And one of the absolute best examples of quality having an immeasurable impact in a few words is Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Here it is below in its entirety, all 269 words:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Short, sweet, powerful and everlasting... in under 300 words. Quality will outlast quantity every time. It helps those looking to find the content of our true character. So take a lesson from Abe the next time you're thinking about this stuff.

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