Published on March 11, 2014
Social Media Content 101 Connecting and Communicating in the New Media Landscape JON WUEBBEN Telegent Media, LLC
Social Media. Heard of it? Unless you have been sent in a rocket ship to space for the past couple years, you probably not only know about it – but are digging into it and may be a very active participant. It has been the biggest thing to hit the business world since the Internet itself…plain and simple. Whether you are a business with a fan page on Facebook, a Twitter page and a You Tube channel, or a just a regular guy or gal who is re- connecting with old friends through social media, it has affected practically ALL of us. So, what is Social Media? Wikipedia says this… “Social Media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.” Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user- generated content” And what are we talking about when we say social media content? When you write for social media it could take the form of blog posts, “tweets” on Twitter, videos that you share on Facebook or YouTube and sites that you stumble on social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon.
But knowing how to write and publish content for a social media world can be a challenge – and very time consuming. How do you do it and why is it important? We’ll get to that very soon… Social Media is expanding like crazy… It seems like with every blog I frequent, the topics covered have morphed into a social media cornucopia of delights. The topic used to just be “social media” …now it’s subdivided and multiplied into a number of sub-topics within the larger umbrella. From video marketing and distribution to Social media tools; social media training and advertising to integrating social media and traditional media, the list is endless. And despite all of this activity and buzz, there are many thousands of companies out there – large and small that are still resisting – or confused about it. Why? Because resisting an idea is human nature 101. Even for some of those who like to be out in front. And I surmise it’s more of an issue in America, where it seems we are always wondering, regardless of what it is — How can I turn this great idea into cash? Oh yeah, that ROI thing. Maybe social media will finally help place “building a community” and “establishing a brand” above ROI once and for all. (where they should be). Whether we are talking about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog – it’s all the same. Embrace them now and they will love you back. In this e-book, Social Media Content 101, we’ll focus on 3 major areas: 1. How you can benefit from social media content 2. Types of social media content 3. How you can get it all done
By going through these three areas and understanding how the information can apply to your business, you can make the very most of social media and stay out in front of your competitors. In terms of getting your feet wet, you may want to contribute first by joining existing discussions on other content. See what they are talking about and what types of content are the most popular. So, let’s get right into it: I. HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT How exactly do you benefit through social media content? With Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, your blog and all the rest, you can: • Build new relationships • Provide thought leadership • Respond to customers • Improve search engine rankings • Use in conjunction with media exposure • Utilize as a platform for promotions and contests • Ultimately, improve sales But let’s be fair, it isn’t just the ROI issue which stops companies from jumping in with social media. In fact, there are a number of other issues that various surveys cite including lack of knowledge, lack of executive resistance, etc. The bottom line: Social Media is about influence, connection and brand. When considering this, it’s important to ask a few key questions: Who is your audience? Who will you connect with? What’s your strategy? These are all
things that you want to think about and plan for. If you haven’t done it yet, get yourself a calendar and start mapping out what you want to do. The great thing about social media is that we are able to do things that we’ve never done before, more efficiently, at a higher level. Through these platforms we can facilitate new relationships, new conversations, positive influence and close customer interaction…all at a faster rate than ever before. If you’re old enough to remember what life was like before the Internet, all this stuff used to happen at conferences, the workplace or through a social service group or association. My, how times have changed. And for the better! Social media is taking us to exciting places. II. TYPES OF SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT Types of Social Media So if social media is any online media that allows users to interact with one another, there are probably many different types of social media right? Yes, that’s right. Here is a list of the unique forms of social media and which sites are the most important. Social networking - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Social networking sites allow users to add friends, send messages and share content on either the “one-to-many” or “many-to-many” format. Typically, people on social networking sites get together in communities of like-minded interest. More on Twitter in a bit…
Social bookmarking – StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious Social bookmarking applications allow users to share their favorite online content with one another while by creating online bookmarks. The bookmarks are on a web site so other people can then see your bookmarks and ideally be exposed to something that they wouldn't otherwise encounter. Some social bookmarking sites, like StumbleUpon, use a voting system that allows users to indicate what bookmarks they found interesting. Blogs - Wordpress, TypePad, Blogger, etc Most people have interacted with blogs for many years now. Essentially they are online journals where a company or individual discusses anything they want to – reviews of products, opinions on industry news, interviews, etc.. and shares this with their blog subscribers. Wikis - Wikipedia A wiki refers to content created online by multiple users working on the same content, but at different times and from different places. Photosharing - Flickr, Photobucket Photosharing sites allow people to upload photos to share with anyone they like. Video Sharing - YouTube Sites like YouTube have revolutionized online video, allowing users to share video content either privately or publicly.
Presentation Sharing - Slideshare.net, Scribd Have a Powerpoint deck that you want to share with lots and lots of people? No problem. Using a site like Slideshare, you can upload as many presentations as you like and even get some SEO benefit by doing so. Obviously, in this “age of social media”, there are hundreds of sites to choose from. Selecting the right social media channels for your company or individual tastes is based on your specific preferences, goals and long term content strategies. If you are a business, you naturally want to go where your target market, customers and partners are. If you are an individual who simply wants to connect with friends, go to where they go. Using Linkbait in Social Media So, I bring up the concept of link baiting. And if you have read my e-book, Writing Link Friendly Content, you’ll see this information there as well. It’s just too important to not include! But what is it? Linkbait is used to describe viral, linkable content designed to attract thousands of links and is recognized as one of the most effective ways to build links – and relevance for a site. So link baiting is really building link‐friendly content. It’s also a great way to approach social media content – because it gets people interested. The traditional way of getting links circa 2004 and before involved contacting other relevant websites, emailing the webmasters and asking for a link. You’d contact people you know – vendors, partners, customers, suppliers and “reciprocate” links. You would carefully explain in your email that linking to
you would be worthwhile for their visitors and beneficial to them as well…and you’d spend hundreds of hours doing it. Why didn’t someone in the know just explain to them that all they had to do was write solid content and the links would come? Of course, you have to promote it too, but perhaps they were looking for the easy way out. Ironically, the easier way is to write high quality, very popular, link friendly content. ;) With link bait, you can do this. First, as all the experts will tell you ‐ you need a good “hook” for your blog posts, Tweets or Facebook Status Updates. A hook is the angle or the way of grabbing attention from the reader. You do it by capitalizing on something that’s really important to most people – security, money, respect, gossip, new ideas, a secret, etc…and give it a little sizzle. Types of Hooks: • Tying in to what’s relevant – the News Hook • Going against the grain – the Contrary Hook • Taking the offensive position – the Attack Hook • Providing something important – the Resource Hook • Making people laugh – the Humor Hook Providing something important Resource Hook • Develop a comprehensive list of blogs in your niche ‐ link out to them, and chances are they will link to you • Create a useful tool related to your niche that people like • The list concept: How to do ____. Make it substantive and link friendly! • A compilation of news stories on a theme that you in turn analyze and create a post for
• Example: If you run a hotel, discuss all the places to visit in the surrounding area Tying in to what’s relevant News Hook • Find out who reports the news to the news reporting agencies – and then jump on it. • Calling someone or something out – if you can expose a fraud or flaw in a news story, and report on it, that content you wrote could be very link friendly. You could have thousands of links very quickly. • Giving your opinion on a popular news story • Don’t rehash what someone else already reported though – give it your own slant Going against the grain Contrary Hook • Are you a natural contrarian? Put it to use! Be the one guy that finds something to not like about a story, a product or service and then go off on them. • "Why <insert prominent blogger or company name here> is WRONG about..." • Find something that’s really really popular and then tear it apart. People will notice. Taking the offensive position Attack Hook • Pointing out why a particular product or service is doing more harm than good • Going after the government re. almost anything – they are a great target • Standing up for an under‐represented or disadvantaged group
• Choose a topic that has a fair degree of truth on both sides and then write away! • Make it informed, smart and very controversial. You have to be careful with this one – you don’t want to write the wrong thing about the wrong person. A good idea is to go after a company or product instead of an individual. However, if you’re gutsy, have some proof for what you are claiming and really want to gain some instant traffic, it can give you instant credibility and build your reputation like wildfire. Most people love controversy and when you use an attack hook, you stir it up. Making people laugh – the Humor Hook • Photoshop a funny picture or cartoon for the subject you are writing about and post it • Post a list that takes a funny slant: ie “Top 20 Ways I’m Going to Work from Bed This Week” • Post idea: "You know you're a _____when..." • Play off another funny bit that you came across: jokes, funny stories, etc.. People love to laugh right? They also need comic relief from the craziness of life on the web. Or life in general. If you have a natural way of lightening things up through your personality, you may be able to write that way too. Give it a shot. With your next blog post. You’ll create some link friendly content in the process. Other Ways to Link Bait Contests Another thing you can do to build link‐friendly content is to run a contest or sweepstakes on your blog (or your Twitter or Facebook page). It doesn’t
have to be expensive – you could give away your services, actually. For me, being an online copywriter and marketing consultant, I could give away 10 pages of free content. I haven’t done that yet, but I could. It would probably go off very well. What could you give away? Once you decide, promote it and blog about it like crazy…on every social media channel at your disposal! Interviews Finally, to build some high quality link bait or “link friendly” content, you could interview prominent people in your industry. How about that for an idea? You know that these people you interview will link to you, right? Absolutely they will. Most of the prominent people out there in any field have big egos. Play off that and get some great traffic as a result! Try this on your YouTube channel next week.. Product or Service Reviews There are a million products or services that your target market would love to read about. What are they? Think about what your customers like. What do they use in their lives? You may want to even survey them to find out. The great thing about reviews is that they are easy to write and give you instant content. Plus, you’ll get people who want to link to them, especially if it’s a review for a popular product or service. The secret …of course with all of these link bait approaches is that you need to have people see what you write. It’s all useless without being seen by your peers. And if you are brand new on the scene, it can be a challenge. So, how do you do it? For starters, link to them in your post, send emails to them, call them, post to delicious, myweb2, etc. Add them as a friend on Facebook, follow them on Twitter…whatever it takes!
If you can get at least one prominent blogger in your niche to take notice, the rest will most likely follow. Remember, the web is a community and you need to reach out to others who can help you. In turn, you will help them. And it’s more than simply acting professionally or ensuring you behave appropriately on the web ‐ It’s a basic tenant of life. Sharing Knowledge What about gracing others with your supreme intellect by giving away your own knowledge? Your personal experience with clients and industry expertise in your field will definitely be of interest to others in your social community. From “how to” or review videos (think Gary Vaynerchuk) to writing “cornerstone” content for your blog, providing your knowledge to others establishes you as the clear authority, motivating people to get in on the conversation and be a part of your online social media world. Getting involved with social media is fantastic for developing an audience of new customers, partners and others – including the media! Using Lists And then there are Lists. Top 10 whatever. Top 100 whatever – think David Letterman here…but even better. Not just funny, but interesting and thought provoking. There is just something about lists that people love. It probably mimics the way we think. Our brains are probably wired like that. Lists encourage debate and give people some solid hooks to remember what was on your list. Debate a Popular Figure
For those adventurous types, you can light the social media world on fire by debating another popular member of your community or taking the contrarian view on a particular topic. Think about it: some of the best arguments and debates of all time got massive exposure. From “Coke vs. Pepsi” to “Tastes great, less filling” with Miller beer, disagreeing with conventional wisdom can become very powerful social media content. Whatever type of social media content that you decide to write, be sure to make it about them in one way or another. And when I say them, I mean your audience. Twitter: The Rise of a “New Type” of Web Content What is Twitter? It is the ultimate in microblogging. It is one of the fastest growing web apps ever in the history of the web itself. PC Magazine’s encyclopedia says that Twitter is a “web site and service that lets users send short text messages up to 140 characters in length to a group of people. Launched in 2006, Twitter was designed to keep friends and colleagues informed about one's daily activities. Twitter is increasingly used by businesses to tell customers and prospects "what's new." In addition, politicians and celebrities use it to keep constituents and fans informed.Twitter messages ("tweets") are not sent indiscriminately; they are only distributed to recipients who elected to become followers. Messages can also be sent via instant messaging, the Twitter Web site or a third-party Twitter application. A Twitter message is a "tweet," and an ongoing stream of Twitter messages is a "Twitter feed." So, how is Twitter inspiring a whole new type of content and communication style?
Well, they say that body language is 70% of communication. The way people say things, their facial expressions, what they are really saying behind that smile…are all critical to the communication being understood, for the exchange to be meaningful. Of course, in the online world…via email, instant messaging, social media sites and the rest, where we don’t see people in front of us, there is no way we can duplicate this right? Right. Or maybe there is. Think about it – Because we have the opportunity to so “expose” ourselves online, in many different formats and unique ways and – here is the kicker – via online video, we are now able to communicate almost identically to how we communicate in person, and some would contend, even better. Well, at least more efficiently! So, the future: We all have less time. We all will need to do more with less. We all of us will need to communicate with each other. Could the Twitter dynamic…that of short, but substantive, in your face interaction be the template for future content and future communication? I think, yes. Why? It works. It’s simple. And it aligns with our need for quick, meaningful communication. Yes, not all tweets are substantive. But we are getting really good at filtering this stuff out. What is twitter? It’s a template for future online communication. How do we use Twitter? Often and with purpose. Here is the deal: Future content, quite a bit of it anyway, will be “micro” in nature…tailored to a specific little group, addressing their needs or wants and delivered in short bursts. Customized, clear, with a call to action…a call to action that addresses something you want or need right now. The reason it will be more impactful? Because the quicker you can address what someone
wants right now, the quicker they will be to respond to it, especially when there will be others offering the same thing. Case in point: If there is a Starbucks and a Peet’s Coffee location, both close to where you are when you suddenly want a Carmel Machiatto, (assuming they have your contact information and know where you are…which may be coming soon…at least the chance to opt in to this), the one that gets you the virtual coupon first will get your business, right? In the past, I have received some heat for making the assertion that you could market your products and services through Twitter. And although I very much agree that blatant self-promotion is not what you do with social media, (nor would that be successful anyway) connecting with others who may benefit from what you are offering IS a part of it. And I personally don’t mind it at all. Is Twitter altering the very way we communicate? Time will tell. Content Is More Than Copy I always have to remind people that content is much more than simply words on a page. Perhaps this is the most important form of online content, but it’s certainly not the only type, especially now. And yes, I did write the book, Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t discuss video, audio and other types of content every day…because I do. Ask yourself, what types of content does my audience respond to? Who am I trying to reach? Product videos can be very compelling if you sell electronic goods, for example. How about a video from the CEO of your company welcoming people to your blog? People that see these videos may share
them with their friends. If they do, then you have just made an effective social media play! And what about Podcasts? They are hugely popular. Think of all the commuters in cars – don’t they need something to listen to? Of course. Many people don’t have time to surf their favorite blogs or watch a video. Using your expert status, you can create a show that covers all the important topics of your industry and make it available to thousands of people who want to know what you think and may even want to do business with you. III. HOW YOU CAN GET IT ALL DONE So, all this social media content stuff is great but how do you start it and how do you get it all done? Well, you are not alone. This is the number one question I get asked when I go out and speak about social media. Well, you’ll be happy to know that your social media content development process is all taken care of…at least a plan to set up your own process that is… 1) First, understand who your audience is. Who are the stakeholders? And what do they want to know about? 2) What are the top industry issues? What type of content is popular? See which other companies are involved in the social media space for your industry. 3) Are any important bloggers in your industry talking about these issues? This is important to know. These are folks that you will either partner with; compete with, debate with or all of the above. Research this by going to Technorati, Del.icio.us and Google Blogsearch
4) Where are the top bloggers and influencers in the Social Media space? Which groups do they belong to on Facebook? Who are the guys in your industry with 10K followers on Twitter? And what about LinkedIn? You want to analyze what they are discussing and find out how you can fit in. 5) Join the conversation in these places. Comment on blogs and social networks in a non-promotional way. Become part of the community. Make your thoughts known! 6) Determine who will create the content. If you are more than a one person show, get more than one person involved. Assign a schedule and make the person (or people) responsible. 7) Put together a content strategy/schedule and then start creating content! As I read somewhere recently, “Creating great content for your social network starts with preparation. Get to know the community and the types of content they like before spending your time and energy on content development. Once you know the people and what content plays well, you have lots of choices — lists, interviews, and stories are almost always popular with any social media community. None of this, of course, comes easy. Like any type of marketing that’s worthwhile, patience and persistence are a must.” Great advice…I agree! Final Notes Do Your Research- This practically goes without mentioning, but it’s so important that I chose to end with it. No matter what type of content you are
developing, the first step to crafting it is to do your research. And don’t just look at 2-3 sources, review ten or more. It’s good to get perspective. Write an Attention Getting Headline- Your headline is probably the most important factor for determining how popular your social media content becomes. Look at the concept of Status Updates on Facebook. Make it enticing enough for people to want to know more! Follow with a Great Opening- The hardest part of anything is starting it, right? Well, the most important part of social media content (right in line with the headline) is how you begin the blog post, article, video or whatever. You got to keep them interested! If not, they will click away from you within 3 seconds. Be Conversational- The key word in social media is “social.” You need to interact! Boring, tired content will not bring you or your readers into the conversation. If they were there right in front of you, how would you talk to them? Write like that. Never Give Up - Social media marketing requires a long-term commitment. Produce great content, learn from your mistakes and tweak your approach until it starts working. Remember, social media is not about making money, it’s about relationships and building community. In Summary… So, there you go. Hopefully, you’ve learned a few things. Remember, the best way to start integrating social media with existing web content is to audit your use of text, audio, images, and video. What are you currently doing? How can you transition it to the social media space? Analyze your client’s
communications, and figure out ways that social media could help continue and improve upon those conversations. Social Media is amazing for so many reasons, but what it really comes down to is improved communication. With social media content, you are addressing three issues simultaneously: Shifting conversations to a different medium; allowing for easier updating of content; and reaching a wider audience. And what a phenomenal opportunity to do it! When you know your market, understand what’s important to them and give them the content that addresses these important things, you will not only enjoy a beneficial social media presence, but you will dominate your space and be well positioned to take advantage of future online marketing developments. To find out more, visit www.contentrichbook.com
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