Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – Content is King. Seems you can’t find a blog or an advice column that doesn’t stress the importance of content in your social media strategy. Even though this has become a cliché the underlying truth is undeniable.
So, how do you generate, create and post this regal content?
One technique that has been making the rounds is the content calendar. The concept is simple enough – pick a theme for each day and focus your content around that idea. As I wrote about here, it is a great way to organize your thinking process. It also takes some of the pressure off your content creation team (oh, wait – that’s you!).
One of the other benefits of employing a content calendar is that it forces you to think about the whats of your content. What ideas do you want to promote? What is it about you that interests your followers? What parts of your social personna do you want to illuminate?
This is a tremendous exercise for any organization, small business or non-profit. It forces you and your team to perform a serious self-examination on exactly what you stand for. The process also immerses your staff into the whole social media experience/process. It forces them (and you) to take a step back and gain a better understanding of who you are.
I would suggest that the key part of this process is to take an outsider’s view of your organization. We all know who we are and what we stand for, right? However, do you also know how you are perceived? As another famous cliché puts it – perception is reality. The bedrock of content development is to understand how your audience sees you. What they expect from you. What they think you represent.
In social media it ain’t about you, its about me (or them).
OK. So you’ve done an in-depth analysis of your organization. You’ve identified the key content areas, identified contributors and – maybe – decided on your “voice”. Best of all – you’ve organized it all into a nice, neat content calendar. Very nice. Never again will you be struggling for what to post on Tuesdays. Better yet, with all the tools out there like Tweetdeck you can actually plan ahead – a true luxury in the content consumption industry.
This is a thing of beauty. Your team is rocking with content. Tweets are flying. Posts are rolling. You’ve got this thing nailed…for now.
We are all creatures of habit. systems are created to help us organize our time and create consistency. We rely on them.
They can also become a mind numbing routine. In the early stages of your social media process the appearance of a content calendar is an exciting event (go with me here). The newness of this inspires creativity and emotion. Your team is psyched because they now have a direction. Inevitably, it becomes just another part of their daily routine. Another task they have to perform, another box to fill.
This is one of the curses of a content calendar. It is very easy for the system to become the message. Social Media demands an enormous amount of time and effort. Even with the focus of a content calendar it becomes easy to put up just any content – as long as it fits the theme. Quality becomes less important than quantity. As long as you have met the deadline – filled in the blank, as it were – your job is done and you can move on tot he next day.
The other curse of the content calendar is that it can create a false sense of security – especially if the above example comes to pass. The security of the content calendar can lead your team to look only for items that fit the list. Remember, a content calendar is a guideline. It is a tool. It is not the strategy. Do not let the demands of the calendar blind you to “breaking news” possibilities. Thought of another way, the calendar is a content safety net when you don’t have anything else to post or tweet.
The bottom line is this – maintaining a fresh approach to your content generation will keep your social platforms fresh and viable.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist SMThree
Nice suggestions – I have been trying get myself more organized. Reading this has helped me with a plan!
Good post – thanks, Steve! I think they key word to remember when it comes to content is “flexibility”: Keep a calendar so that you at least have *something* to go on when you sit down to write — but be flexible enough to allow for spontaneous ideas or your take on a hot topic.
I like to work from a 2-pronged approach to content development. One prong is the editorial calendar you mention. It ensures that I am hitting the points that are central to the company. It provides direction and consistency. The second prong is engaging and responding in the moment with people who are also producing content that’s relevant to the brand/company. These may be consumers, media (including bloggers) or industry experts, for example.
And I agree with Rachel — the key is flexibility. I make sure I don’t get so intent on filling my editorial calendar that I lack time to participate in the conversation that’s going on right now.