I like to start my Monday mornings with a visit to LinkedIn. It’s a lazy sort of way to shake off the Netflix hangover and ease into the week with a nice view of what my network has been up to. I think it’s because a lot of people realize on Sunday afternoon that they have once again failed to win a lottery, and are compelled to suck it up at the office for another week. Updating their LinkedIn profiles, randomly endorsing strangers and finding a bunch of shareable content seems to be the Sunday self-medication of choice for knowledge workers.
The downside of the Monday morning update is the deluge of entirely useless twaddle that passes for shared content, and that is what we should talk about today.
Last week we looked at the mechanics of getting a social media strategy off the ground by engaging our HR and sales people. Sadly, once you set up your Twitter handles, line up your early evangelists and burn through your favourite content, you’re pretty much back where you started.
Sustainable social engagement has a number of elements, including real-time conversations with your customers and prospects, regular participation in specialized corners such as LinkedIn groups or Google+ and adding meaningful, useful content to the whole thing.
Content is the fibre of your social media diet. It’s the bulk that makes all that engagement mean something. Long after the transactions are forgotten and the instant messages are deleted, the content rumbles along through the relationship, delivering nutrition, sweeping away the muck and generally moving things forward. (You can exhale now; I’m done with the metaphor).
Far too much of the content that is being spewed across social is junk food. It’s sugary feel-good stuff that briefly fires out a few endorphins before settling on your mid-section. Or it’s fatty, salty, delicious little stats and factoids that briefly satisfy the craving to know something new but ultimately leave you malnourished and a little greasy. It’s an all-you-can eat buffet of white papers, webinars and ebooks guaranteed to feed your busy professional brain that really delivers only the chronic reflux of relentless sales people.
Here are the characterisitcs of high-fibre content for social media:
Relevance, in this case, has nothing to do with your revenue target; it has to do with what your conversation with the market is all about. If you are a leading supplier of defibrillators, why is your CFO retweeting links to a poll about interest rates instead of to cardiac health, workplace stress or fun with electricity? She’s doing it because you didn’t give her anything else to talk about. You know your value proposition, you know (or ought to) what problems your customers look to you to solve. Marketers need to find content that supports this conversation, not anyone else’s.
I’m all for recycled content and squeezing every last bit of goodness out of what you have, but at some point, you need to be adding new information to the conversation. It doesn’t need to be entirely your own information, though the more original ideas you can toss out there, the better off we’ll all be. Your Sales Squirrels will need to be reined in here: a new product is not necessarily news so be sure you give them plenty to say to support the value proposition, otherwise they’ll be inclined to blast feature lists all over the place.
As fond as I am of random images, the truth is social media are visual media and we need to get out the big box of crayons as much as possible to make any sort of impact. Be sure you include a bit of time in your planning to get some cracking good infographics, charts, graphs, photos, diagrams and videos.
It’s Reviewable & Shareable
Just now I saw a tweet from a colleague that went something like “pumped to be at #Plastic-stir-stick-world 2015”. That’s not sharing, it’s drooling. So are play-by-play comments about your flight to St. Louis and photos of anything you are about to put in your mouth. This type of social content speaks to the absence of anything more interesting or intelligent to share, and that’s our job to solve. We need to give our people stuff that other people will want to talk about, review, take issue with, revise, share, even hate. That’s called a conversation and that’s what social is good at.
There is nothing sadder than great content getting taken out to the big, wide world and left to fend for itself. I can’t think of a week recently that I haven’t seen a random invitation to check out someone’s new case study or click to view their latest product video. Now why on earth would I want to see those (except for the obvious purpose of mocking them here)? Why would anyone? That’s Inside Voice stuff. You need to curate your content by putting it into the broader context of whatever it is that you do. Case studies are not destinations; they’re tiny proof points on the road to selling something. Our job is to make sure we place great content carefully on that path, help people understand why it matters and invite them to a great conversation.
Interesting Things I Found This Week
Bernadette Jiwa says things in 35 words, that it takes me 700 to explain. This is an excellent example of the great ideas you’ll find at The Story of Telling.
If all of the above is reminding you that you need a content strategy, here is an excellent place to start, courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute.
BizMarketer is Elizabeth Williams
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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