Help reduce web garbage by committing to a social media content strategy

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By Alexandra Reid

Engaging content is integral to the success of your overall social media effort. It has the potential to be the lifeblood of your business’s digital persona, which motivates your audience to engage with you. It can embody your mission, positioning and approach and humanize your business by giving it a voice.

But so many businesses screw it up. Every day, I view the endless churn of useless, spammy and lifeless content, panning, as if looking for gold, through the trickles of mindless blabbering for content worth mentioning. LinkedIn is full of this rubbish now, as is Twitter, and it seems this mass of tired words continues to grow and congeal into an enormous mound of wasted time and energy.

At all costs you must avoid contributing to the social media garbage dump. If you can’t commit yourself to producing good content, please spare us all the burden of routing through your trash and stay away from social media altogether.

That is my rant. Now, I’ll get on to teaching you all how you can help reduce web garbage by producing great content that is beneficial to you and your community.

What is content?

In C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley’s book, Content Rules, content is defined as “anything created and uploaded to a web site: the words, images, tools, or other things that reside there.”

Content is a shape shifter

Content shared through social media can be expressed in a variety of formats. Videos are content, as are Tweets, Facebook updates, podcasts, whitepapers, blog posts, Quora questions, LinkedIn discussions and even Flickr photos. All of the pages on your website are also content. Even the way you respond to people through these forums count as content.

Producing engaging content ain’t easy

Given the complexity of content, it’s no surprise that MarketingProfs found that producing engaging content, enough content and a variety of content on a budget are major challenges for businesses. It requires effort, but so does everything else in business and marketing. It’s a proven fact that content marketing drives sales leads so it should be treated as prominently as anything else.

Where to begin

Developing a successful content strategy requires a great deal of research. You must find your audience, figure out what makes them tick and decide how you will engage them in a way that benefits both parties. In an earlier post, I covered what you need to include in your social media strategy. Here you should uncover:

  1. What you want to gain from social media
  2. Who you are (your voice/persona) and what you can offer your audience members that they would want to discuss
  3. Who your audience members are, where they congregate on social media and what makes them tick
  4. Who your competition is, where they are on social media and what they are doing successfully
  5. How you plan to engage your audience and where you will set up accounts
  6. How you will measure success

I suggest you read the entire post to get a full understanding of what you need to cover in your social media strategy that should be part of your content strategy. For additional questions to ask yourself I recommend you read, 30 questions for your content strategy, by Jason Falls on Social Media Explorer.

Work out the logistics

Asking yourself these questions provides you with a good foundation for building a content strategy. The next step is to work out the day-to-day operations that will allow it to move along smoothly for the long-term. You must determine:

  1. Who is responsible for creating content
  2. Who is responsible for monitoring conversations, building relationships and managing discussions
  3. Who is responsible for measuring success
  4. Your editorial calendar, including how often you are going to post, how, where, when and what topics you will cover, for at least three months.

The first three points can be the responsibility of a community manager, either internal or external to your business. Some community managers also have editorial experience.

Get excited

As in any healthy relationship, you only receive what you deliver. You’ve got to harness the energy and passion that gets people excited. That’s why you must research what makes your audience tick. What kind of content are they sharing and talking about? Can you share similar content from the perspective of your business or industry? Are there expert personalities at your company who are enthusiastic about your products or services and could act as voices for your business and industry? Are there guest authors from outside your business that you could use? Each post, no matter if it’s as short as a Tweet or as long as a blog post, must express this enthusiasm. And this does not mean punctuating everything with an exclamation mark. It means really doing the research and finding and developing content that adds value to your industry that your audience will enjoy and benefit from.

Measuring the results

I’ve discussed before the importance of measuring your social media activities to determine success. It is imperative that you do this at least on a weekly basis, especially at the beginning of your content strategy, so that you can steer your content in the right direction. It is likely to be a process of trial and error. While you can set yourself off in generally the right direction, you will only know for sure what your audience members respond to by posting and measuring their engagement. What channels are they most active on, really? Do they respond to Tweets about their industry or do they get excited about more personal content? The longer you are active on social media, the better you can steer you content to best suite your audience.

Do you have any additional questions for me? Are you in the beginning stages of developing a content strategy? How’s the process going for you? Did I miss any key points?

Photos from: Panoramio, MarkingProfs

/// COMMENTS

2 Comments »
  • Alyssa Magnotti

    July 12, 2011 6:29 pm

    “Help reduce web garbage!” I love it! Should be a quote on a new line of tee – shirts! I just wrote a blog post about Content Strategies on the thinkspace site today actually and how to start one. :]

    Keep up your great work!

  • Alexandra Reid

    July 13, 2011 8:58 am

    Thanks for the kind words Alyssa. I like the idea of t-shirts. I’ll check out your post later on today.

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