Social Media Strategy: Listening

Photo credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu) / Foter / CC BY-NC

Social Media Channels Have One Clear Call-to-Action: Post!

When we sign into an account — on a  social media platform or a social media posting tool– there is always the one highlighted window, clear as day, that we are to post and publish, post and send, post and feel good. Many of us have content calendars (editorial strategies) tacked up on the wall where teams of people congregate and participate to ensure that we are delivering effective content at the right time and hopefully, responding and engaging on each platform, but we often overlook what effective content means in light of one’s communication strategies, goals, and priorities.

One Half of the Strategy

Effective content is content that is dynamic, interesting, relevant, timely, engaging, and accurate, AND strategically delivered as a tactic to reach a specific goal. Continue reading

Advertisements

Qwikster: Quick (disa)ster

Social Media Treasure Hunt?

Many of you have probably heard the news that Netflix is splitting its movie service: streaming videos and postal mailing orders–the latter of which will be called Qwikster. An interesting name, to say the least. Most recently, I read a related article on the latest problem highlighted on BBC News.

@Qwikster has nothing to do with Netflix or the name of their movie service. Jason Castillo a marijuana-referencing, football enthusiast, actually owned the Twitter name before Netflix secured an account for themselves. Christopher Hofman Laursen, director of the European Domain Centre, says as quoted on BBC News, “Netflix had made a grave mistake in not securing the Twitter handle before the launch.” Mr. Castillo is asking for financial compensation to hand over his Twitter name. Despite pointing out the disaster of the mistake, Laursen also mentions, “Every company should be on social media now, that’s where all the traffic has moved to,” he says, “All the communication today between companies and customers is on social media.” This comment is, perhaps, more important upon second glance. “All the communication today between companies and customers is on social media.” Yes, the grand echo effect. I know my elders always said I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, but this is the occasion when we all must betray that saying. Businesses have a presence whether or not they like it because that’s where everyone else gathers– in order to have a face, you’ve got to be there. Furthermore, businesses may want to start their strategies/campaigns online. That is, if you’re going to brand a new service or name, begin your research, communication, and branding on social media sites. Yes, by doing something as easy as placing social media under item number one, a big company such as Netflix could have avoided the Qwikster disaster.

What do you think? Join the discussion!

Before You Write “Dear World…”

Writing is very easy. All you do is sit in front of a typewriter [computer] keyboard until little drops of blood appear on your forehead. – Walter W. “Red” Smith

Consider how we interact today: no doubt our days include emails, text messages, Twitter updates, blog feeds, news feeds, Facebook status updates–clicking and typing. Nibble fingers indeed. Our interactions are professional and personal; our voices change from formal to informal. What I find most interesting in this new age correspondence is the confined space in which we communicate.

I can tell my friend that yes, “I’ll see you for lunch at noon.” Quick and easy via text. But I can also tell the Twittersphere that once Robert Frost wrote “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Maybe I’d even tack on: “Put yourself in danger.” The latter statement is incredibly powerful. I will add that since numbers do matter: both messages are under 140 characters.

We may have many modes of communication–many spaces, but the space itself is rather small. What this means is, to be most efficient, everyone needs to know how to write, how to produce content that is worthy of readership.Otherwise, as a community of businesses, of interactions, of personalities, we are doomed. I hate to be pessimistic, but without understanding the power behind language, the conciseness it requires, we will not achieve anything.

The thinking process of a skilled communicator reflects how she/he conceives the writing situation.  To reverse that statement, writing situations–all writing– is communication. However, writing (the act of putting something “on the page”) hopes to go further. It hopes to make the reader react in certain ways– an “lol,” an “omg” (ah, inefficiency)– it hopes for pleased smiles, nods of affirmation, stabs to the heart–whatever. As author of Writing with Style, John Trimble discusses, “writing is the art of creating desired effects.”

In any public sphere (because writing is permanent and therefore, public), we buy from people what we like and trust. I’m using the term “buy” loosely: we buy products, advice, suggestions, news. That’s how our culture works.

So, how do we win readers?

1. Have something important to say. Know what your purpose is and know why it’s important.

2. Be sold on its validity so you can pitch it with conviction.

3. Give some concrete proof: provide a link, a statistic, etc.

4. Use confident language– use active verbs, assertive phrasing, use a branding lexicon.

We must serve people, satisfy their needs. If we are going to ask people for their attention, we are in their debt. Yes, be courteous, pleasing in your phrasing, dress everything in an aura of reasonableness. I think we often understand manners when we’re out to dinner (no elbows on the table, chew with your mouth closed), but as writers, they are often neglected.

Writing often sounds as the writer were talking to a wall; the reader hears a gentle echo of mumbling. If your intention is to “sell” and have the reader “buy,” we obviously do not want that. Thus, to make your writing lucid and powerful, I suggest you envision yourself at that dinner table.

At the dinner table, on the page

  • Cultivate a psychological sense: sensitize yourself to what wins you over. Think of your own experiences– how and why do you respond to writing? As you sit down to write, bring that awareness to your reader.
  • Anticipate your readers’ responses: If I move this way, you move which way? Are you treating the reader like an idiot? Has the reader zoned out? Where do you need to include a bit of humor? What do you want the reader to really take away from this piece?
Rules of the game: 
The reader owes you ONE read. Make it clear.

What is “Remarkable” Content? How Do You Create It?

Last week a member of LinkedIn Group, Inbound Marketing, posted an interesting discussion question: What is the number one rule of content marketing? Like a student of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s book, Inbound Marketing, I responded with “remarkable content!”  That is the goal, right? To get found. You are your content. Halligan and Shah write:

We borrowed the term from Seth Godin who uses it [the word “remarkable”] in place of the word “unique” and we took the liberty of italicizing “remark” in order to prompt you to ask yourself whether your product or service is worthy of other people’s “remarks.”

This is to ask if you genuinely and professionally believe the motive or mission behind your product or service is valuable. In today’s digital age, value does not only mean how wonderful your product/service is, but how well you can stand out and offer something that is both of substance and unique.

Remarkable content is two-fold: the content must work (substance, uniqueness) and the strategy must work (how you put it out in the world).

UNIQUE CONTENT OF SUBSTANCE

Content is language strung together into some kind of sense-making creature. You want the content to become alive, to carry its own weight.

Before we can understand what I mean by content as a “living creature,” we must first ask, what is good writing? It’s a difficult and broad question, but it’s a question that forces you to consider your own reading palate—what makes reading enjoyable for you? What elements of the writing do you appreciate?

I’ve taught many college writing courses, and regardless of writing level, I always ask my students this question because I think it humanizes the sometimes daunting task of writing. What IS good writing? I stand in front of the classroom as they stare at me with blank expressions, glossy eyes. I’m comfortable with silence, so I wait. They squirm in their seats and begin to turn on their brains. Some say good writing must possess humor; some believe writing must ask the reader to react; some think writing must be grammatically correct; it must have a purpose; it must have detail.

They are all correct—in a cumulative sense.

Good writing must possesses the following:

  • Purpose: What are you setting out to achieve?
  • Voice: Who is behind the writing— what is your character?
  • Tone: What is the emotional background or ambiance of your piece?
  • Organization: How will you structure your piece?
  • Sentence Structure: This is less of a question—Vary your sentence structure!
  • Rhetorical Mode: Use various techniques—narrative, description, persuasion, argumentation, how-to/process, etc.
  • Ask the reader to react: What do you want the reader to feel or do at any given moment in the piece?
  • Target audience: Who are you speaking to?
  • Use examples: Help your reader understand what you’re talking about.
  • Validate: You must validate your discussion (if it is a discussion) by using other sources, statistics, professional opinions on the topic. This gives you credibility and legitimizes your discussion.
  • Logic: Be logical and reasonable.

Once you consider these questions/elements, you can produce good writing.

CONTENT STRATEGY: BEFORE YOU PUT THE WRITING OUT IN THE WORLD

There are a few things you must do to.

  • Competitors: Who are your competitors? You want to take a close look at their content and examine what’s already said. Then, take it further. Consider it a challenge. What variables are they missing? Implications? *Note, if you are having trouble coming up with your target audience, this general search for competitors will help you scaffold an idea.
  • Marketplace: Generalize your marketplace and consider alternative competitors—those that don’t stand out as “your” competitor.
  • Narrow or Widen: Given what you find among your competitors, new and old, you may want to go smaller, provide a narrower specialty or focus. Or, you may want to open up a bit, provide more, a broader focus.
  • Put out a Google Alert: There are all different ways to receive live updates on your subject/topic/product/services, but Google Alert is a general way to stay in tune.

Thank you for reading! Please join the discussion with questions, comments, other ideas!