If you’re like me you read a lot of blogs. If you’re reading this one you’re likely reading a lot of blogs that talk about social media. It seems a day doesn’t go by that I don’t come across one that touts the ‘7 Secrets of Great Content’ or ‘Content is King – rule your Social Media World’. (Hmmm, come to think of it, those are pretty good titles.). Heck, I’ve even been guilty of weighing in on the topic with this one.
Unfortunately, too much of the ‘advice’ I read boils down to these messages:
Content is King!…Make sure your content is interesting…It’s all about engagement…blah, blah, blah. Very rarely do you come across an advice column, uh, I mean blog post that actually tells you how to write content that matters.
Here’s a stab at it.
Writing is a talent and an art. It is not simply the putting together a series of grammatically correct phrases into some sort of cohesive pattern. Writing is about telling a story, making a point or educating the reader. (Yea, I know – more generic advice.) My point here is simple – if you want to create great content for your blog, e-newsletters and social media platforms you need someone on your staff who can actually write.
I’m not talking about someone who can throw 350 words on a screen. A writer is someone who can take the most mundane part of your nonprofit mission or business and make the reader – if not care – at least sustain some interest. There really is no substitute for this. Anyone can write a blog. The talented writer can write a consistently interesting blog – and do it over and over again. A good writer knows they are only as good as their last piece.
If you can’t do that or if that person is not currently on your staff – go hire someone!
OK, now that we’ve settled what is at the core of great content – what do you do next?
Examine who your organization is. What do you stand for? What benefits do you bring to your customers, donors and patrons? What it is about you that makes people care? These are important questions that are often overlooked when an organization embarks on a content marketing or social media quest.
With that in mind here are a few (hopefully) non-generic tips on how to improve your content.
Look at your website – Everything about your business or nonprofit is (or should be) there for all to see. Every single tab and sub-heading is a potential story. There are people behind each one of those tabs. They live and breathe what those tabs represent – every day. Dig in. Find out what these tabs mean. How they operate. You have a rich source of content staring you in the face. Use it.
People who need people – are the luckiest people…sorry. Writing great content is personal. It is about emotion. Tell your fans why your product or mission means something. Make it tangible. Show results. Get as specific as possible. Highlight victories. Examine defeats. Be real and relatable. Involve your people. They are what make your organization what it is.
Look around you – Every part of your daily life is a potential source of content. You know your mission and industry to its core. How does your personal life intersect with your business knowledge? Taking this personal approach to your content will make it more meaningful.
Know your space – You are not the only organization in your space. While it is important that you highlight and demonstrate what makes you unique and valuable, don’t kid yourself into thinking your fans take your word at face value. They have the power of the Internet at their fingertips and they can compare you with your competition with the click of a mouse. Use your knowledge of your industry to give unvarnished opinions, observations, helpful hints, beneficial tips – anything that will establish you as an organization that ‘gets it’. Selling what you do wrapped inside valuable information is at the heart of content marketing.
Be a personality – No one likes boring. Whoever writes for you must have a discernible style. Decide what the voice of your organization sounds like – and stick with it. Humor and self-deprecation are great tools when used wisely. Casual works, too. Whatever voice you choose make it conversational and stick with it. Social Media allows you to humanize your nonprofit or business. (Caution: Humor is a dangerous tool that works very well – if you are actually funny.)
I have tried to be as specific as possible. The best way to improve your content is through the use of examples. However, what works for one business may not translate to yours. That is why the first step to creating great content is in self-examination. Once you understand what you are all about you can share it with everyone else.
So, since I kind of stuck my neck out here by railing against generic content blogs – what’s the verdict? Is this real or am I as guilty as the other drones?
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist