One of the most pervasive social media tactics involves generating content. It’s very easy to do, but very easy to get wrong.
When you think about it, almost anyone can write status updates, add comments, create tweets, or upload photos. The fact that creating content can be done so easily, allows for it to be rushed into.
Here are my guidelines for creating content.
Figure out who you know best
Know Yourself: Create content you know about. Be genuine & interesting. People will be responsive to your content, as long as it’s authentic.
Achilles Heel: Lack of focus. In the end, the content you create helps define how people perceive you; this is the essence of branding. If you don’t define how you’d like people to perceive you; you risk misperception.
So, treat yourself, and the content you create, as a brand would. Develop a voice, and focus your content toward achieving the perception you want from your audience.
Know your audience: Create content your audience finds interesting. If you’re able to figure out what you’re audience is interested in; you can find spokespeople to contribute content on your brands behalf. (e.g. If you find out that Toyota Prius owners like gardening, you could get a professional gardener to create a series of blog posts for the Toyota Prius blog.)
Achilles Heel: Creating phony content. The biggest offenders are people who engage in fake conversations. This often happens with brands that outsource social media management to those who aren’t familiar enough with the brand. (E.g. The person in charge of the Nike Plus Twitter account compliments someone on a great tennis win, but doesn’t actually know anything about tennis. If a follower reads the post and tries to engage in a conversation on the subject Nike Plus will have been exposed as not knowing anything about tennis, and might alienate some followers.)
Learn the social media channel you’re using
Know the medium – Content can take many forms, video, audio, images, presentations, motion graphics, or copy. Know what media work best to communicate your message to your audience.
Know the memes – Each social media channel is different, and may have very different memes. Things that are well understood on one social network might not be obvious on others. (i.e. if you try to use a hash tag outside of twitter, users will probably be confused.)
Know the warning signs – Every social media channel has elements you should keep an eye on that will alert you if the content you’re posting is achieving your goals, or working against you. It could be followers, or fans, or retweets, or length of engagement; the idea is to find out what you should be watching, and watch those things.
Know any interaction rules – Think of every site as a mini-social-ecosystem; complete with social rules and manners. What might be a good conversation on one site might be considered spam on another.
Know how/ what to track – Because every site & platform is different, there are many different ways you can track things. Certain sites will provide you with metrics, while others require you to embed tracking codes. Some sites won’t allow tracking code, so you might have to get monitoring software. Additionally, you need to know what metrics need to be tracked, and what metrics will just clutter & confuse your data.
Know how to analyze – Probably the hardest to learn, but if you don’t analyze your data properly you might end up changing your content strategy for no reason. (or you could end up keeping it the same when you should have changed it.) Try to answer questions like: Should I pay attention to averages or extremes? Should I consider positive and negative nature of comments? Should I place a higher value on users who engage with me on multiple channels?
Listen and adapt
Know what to listen for – In the same way you need to know what to track; you also need to know what to listen for. Listening is a skill that many marketers don’t have; they’re often really great at communicating a message, but often fall short when interpreting collective responses. If you can define some key performance indicators in terms of key-words, you’ll have a advantage over much of your peers.
KPI as key-words: a word or words that indicate if a mention is helping achieve business goals or helping to undermine efforts to achieve those goals.
Know what to do – Another important and often overlooked element of listening is knowing what to do with the information you’ve heard. How should you respond? Should you change the mind of a person who posted a negative comment? What if that person is a ‘troll’ who posts negative comments all over the place? That type of person wouldn’t ever change his mind. This is the best guide to evaluating comments and determining the appropriate response.