One of the most important things about social media is that it is meant to create a dialog. Old media was almost the exact opposite; You were presented with a message and expected to take a specific action. That was it. There was no talking back or sharing. But that’s why it is called old media. We’ve definitely evolved.
These days, you have to be agile with the content you create, in order to generate the greatest potential for action among your audience. How? Well, think of social media content creation as a game of tennis. One person serves, but once the ball is in play, it usually stays in play for a while. Similarly, there is a back-and-fourth dialog that happens in all successful social media campaigns. One that is very similar to the back-and-fourth movement of the tennis ball.
Creating such a dialog is not always easy and many folks don’t know how to serve the ball, let alone keep it in the air. However, with the right strategy and plenty of effort, you can master this art.
All social media content can essentially be broken down into four parts: Topic, Medium, Source and Audience. By combining these four parts in the right order, with the right timing can mean all the difference in the world for your campaign. Let’s look at each of these components in detail.
The topic of your content (whether it be a tweet, status update, video, infographic, blog post or anything else) is extremely important, because it helps you stay relevant and authoritative. Most of us have a particular niche in which our topics will fit. For instance, I am a social media marketer, so I write about helping people build their brand through online social channels. You might be in the real estate industry, so you would probably produce content related to buying and selling a home. What many people don’t do, is think in more specific terms than that. Blogging about real estate is fine, but there are many other folks doing that. Blogging about the luxury lifestyle that many home buyers seek is much more specific and this will help your content outperform the general stuff. The lesson to take away here is this: Be creative with your content, especially with your headlines. Get specific and think outside of the box.
Content comes in all forms. Photo, video, audio and text are the big categories into which most content can fit. Depending on your target audience, some types outperform others. Also, depending on the platform you’re using, some content is preferred over others. For example, Facebook puts a higher ranking on video and images than on just text and links alone. This is one of the factors going into their EdgeRank algorithm, which basically decides what you see and don’t see in your news feed. A good rule of thumb in general is that content that takes longer to produce (images and videos) will usually rank better than stuff that was just thrown together (text and links). Furthermore, people are lazy and nobody wants to read your 5000 word essay on marketing strategies. Quickly summarize your main points and add visuals if you can.
It’s simple; Either you created the content or someone else did. If you did, then you’re the content creator. If someone else did, then you’re the content curator. For the best search engine optimization (SEO) boost, it’s better to create more and curate less. Google loves original (non-duplicate) content. Produce enough of it and the search engine ninjas will reward you. Of course, sharing the work of others is still a very important part of a social and search strategy. Just use it as one of many strategies and make sure you’re reviewing everything you share for quality. If you don’t like it, your audience won’t either.
Believe it or not, knowing your intended audience can really help you create the best content. For instance, if you’re targeting a younger demographic, use more visuals and less text. If you’re looking to attract business professionals, write in a professional style and back up your claims with facts and statistics. If you’re creating content for Facebook, try to boost engagement by asking questions or using other call-to-action tactics. On Twitter, take advantage of hashtags in order to attract new followers. With YouTube, a general rule of thumb is to keep videos short (under 3 minutes) in order to prevent your audience from losing interest. As you can see, there are many ways to tweak your content, depending on who you’re trying to target.
We covered a lot, yet have only touched the surface when it comes to content strategy. If we really wanted to get into more detail, we could talk about specific content formats, engagement levels, timing, frequency and more. Instead, this post was intended to just cover the basics.
If you think about the four basic components listed above as you create your content, you’ll be well on your way to building an engaging campaign. Good luck and be sure to let me know how it goes!
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— Nicholas @ FastBlink (@FastBlink) June 5, 2012