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Fill Your New Media Stream with Good Content

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by Andy McCaskey, Principal 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly can be found in just a few hours of monitoring Twitter traffic from inside and outside your organization using apps like TweetDeck. If you are going to effectively harness these new media tools for your organization, you need to be able to tell the difference and get quickly on the right track.

Why is good content on your social media channels so critical? Because disparaging word-of-mouth remarks can harm your image just as fast as compliments can amplify positive messages regarding your reputation and brand. Social media can establish and confirm industry leadership while it informs, enlightens and even entertains the community - a community of followers that have explicitly said “I’m interested” in your industry, your technology, and maybe even your products and services.

Good content will support your overall goals. Your social media stream  should include informing the community of something from which they might benefit, engaging with those who have questions about your company or products, or establishing a trusted communications channel that one day will enable you to respond with clarity and credibility  to respond to product support or market issues.

Ugly content can slip into your social media stream with surprising ease. It includes obviously damaging material that reflects poorly on your company or related individuals. The popular press is full of sophomoric college hijinks that come back to haunt high-potential younger employees (and not a few middle-aged, new-to-Facebook posters). Critical or snarky posts regarding industry events, highlighting competitor misfortune or personalities will get embedded in search engines and form a part of your social media profile.

 Feeding rumors can achieve momentary fame, but could also end up costing a lot in reputation or cash. A bit of critical thinking or second source confirmation before re-tweeting might have saved commodity traders embarrassment if not some real losses in August 2012, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. 

The Bad list starts off with politics and jokes. Unless advocacy is your business, links to political cartoons, tirades or inflammatory websites are not going to build your community in the right way. Jokes – especially those that target race, religion, culture, sexuality, or any other group – have no place on your business channels. There is no reason to fill the channel with material that many of your potential followers might find offensive. The offended may have effective social networks of their own connected to your potential customers and suppliers. You should frequently remind anyone who is contributing to your business social media that anything they write, record, post or tweet can end up anywhere online!

The largest category on the bad list, however, is self-promotion. A tweet that reads “..[company] Announces Outsourcing Analytics . .” and links to a trade publication article (the sort that has a formulaic quote in the third paragraph) is not going to generate either the click-through rate (fool me once but not twice) or legitimate re-tweets. Conversely a tweet such as “. . Advanced Data Analytics - Machines thinking like Humans” with links to a Slideshare deck embedded in a short blog post offers much richer information payload.  A product data sheet needs a reason to exist in the social media universe, and your task is to find the relevant and authentic angle that makes it soar.  A simple press release is more likely to annoy rather than build positive discussion or observation within your community.

Good content is useful information that builds community. Articles by guest bloggers from channel partners or trade association can offer cross reference on their social media channels, increasing the social media profile for both you and the guest blogger. Presentations and trade show talks - especially when tutorial in nature - build both goodwill and reputation.

Content that your company has already produced can be a goldmine. If you have been publishing white papers or application notes in years past,  repackaging them into a modern font or clear graphic layout and publishing as a PDF will offer new value to those unaware of your product and services. Extended versions with additional illustrations or a summary card can offer a more convenient or comprehensive version for repeat customers, who will appreciate the fact that the well respected app note referenced for years now offers updates and solid information into the technology or industry environment of today.

Checklists, templates and infographic summaries will earn repeated mentions if they provide value to your community. Cross-posting with full credit and back-linking to the originator in your blog post will be appreciated, especially if you represent a large corporation.

Make sure that you are not developing a mutual aid society of re-tweet services. Large organizations, especially those with metrics that reward New Media activity, try to inflate their Tweetreach or Klout ratings by always re-tweeting each other. The net result (just like paid Twitter pushes advocated by the SEO driven experts we discussed in an earlier post) begins to look like hype instead of authentic value. The same experts re-tweeting only the same experts will lose credibility quickly if they ignore contributions,  suggestions or comments from others in the community and industry.

Some legitimate techniques that will improve your re-tweet rate include placing links about 25% of the way into the tweet so that it’s readily apparent that there’s promise of more valuable information with your headline thought. Use just one or two intelligent and relevant hashtags to avoid the shotgun approach.

Many Twitter users deploy services such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule tweets early in the business day, so there is often a crush of fresh content that pushes down the page on the morning, virtually assuring that your content is not seen. Tweeting later in the day or on weekends can be an advantage. Monitoring with a tool such as Tweetdeck will enable you to see the ebb and flow of traffic among those in your community. Your opportunity is to fill in the spaces and give your content some time to be observed.

So what is the “best” Social Media content? It is the content with the right message that shows up at the time, place and screen of choice for your audience. That’s what we will look at in our next blog post.

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