Monday, October 5, 2009

Optimize Your Social Media Content for the Long Haul - 10 Tips

People are more distracted than ever before, and we can thank technology for the help. People will tune you out at the slightest opportunity. I call it “competition for eyeballs.” How can you get their attention and KEEP it for the long haul, converting them to loyal users? Here are some tips on creating not only content, but keeping an eye on how people will be able to maneuver through it:

Keep your content consistent
Not only should your content maintain a consistent writing style, but the content should look and feel the same throughout.
Just like McDonalds isn’t going to change their arches any time soon, keeping your content visually consistent will make a big difference in getting people to know what to expect when they come to your social media community. And if you don’t have a consistent style yet, or maybe you are still developing one, see what sticks and develop your own formula.
Keep it relevant
Just because you have a genius moment, and created this subjectively compelling article, who says it’s great?
You? That might not necessarily fly with your audience. Unless there’s a particular keyword or some idea that you try to get across on a regular basis, it’s not enough to hold people interest over a longer time. And that’s what we’re looking for, right? Think of it like buying a brand you’re pretty loyal to - a favorite restaurant perhaps. If you ordered filet mignon and got tofu spinach salad, would you stick around? But I bet there’s an audience for both of those dishes!
Make it exciting - where’s the WOW?

Do you like what someone else in your industry, or maybe your competition, is doing? What is it that knocks your socks off? This also means headlines for grabbing people’s attention. For me, I love when major brands come into the social media space and come and speak to us all as peers. They really want to know what it is that people want, and then they have a better chance of creating it. The groundswell will prevail! (If you haven’t read Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book and you’re interested in growing a social media audience, you are WAY missing the boat.

4. Make your platform easy to connect

The social media platform you’re using also lends itself to being able to get the message out to your audience. Not only does the content have a lot to do with people sticking around, but do you have links for people to be able to share your content, including social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg? If you do and they’re not sharing it, then there’s probably a reason that goes more deep than connectability.

5. Target the right audience

Blasting people to try to generate interest will only service a temporary fix. Ask yourself who is your relevant audience? Even better, why don’t you ask trusted colleagues who they think your relevant audience might be? If you’re in social media, just because you might maintain membership to multiple groups, posting seemingly irrelevant news items doesn’t mean that your message will become “magically delicious.” Who would be most interested in your tasty morsels?

6. Promote it through ALL channels

Not just interconnecting your social media outlets with links to it all. Think of social media as just one element of your marketing mix. You might have direct mail, TV, print, radio, e-mail…It’s the repetition and consistency that will drive traffic to your social media door step. When I was in radio advertising, I wouldn’t take on a new advertising client for just one or two spots. There’s no guarantee that reaching the right customer would happen in a matter of seconds. And this is for the long haul, right?

7. Be authentic

Social media users know that if something is off kilter, word will get out about it pretty fast. Would you believe it if Bill Gates posted positive comments on Microsoft videos? Probably not. Think of your own persona - do you identify with the content? Would you believe a blog author posting positive commentary about the content on the posts? If you’re perusing the social mediaverse, you probably want to post comments with a keyword that you’ve identified with, but even more so, keep true to yourself, and people will be more likely to believe what you say.

8. Make content easy to digest and user-friendly
Take a look at the visual elements of your campaign.
Are you trying to keep your content “above the fold,” in other words, keeping people from having to scroll down to see what you are trying to say?
Do you have tips that are kind of hidden in a long paragraph?
Think of it like this - would you send a resume to a recruiter in essay format? Nuff said.

9. Make the content format relevant
Do you have multimedia content spanning across different social media outlets?
Or is it just stretched and doesn’t have to be?
Social media outlets are very unique, with unique audiences who have very different social technology habits (technographics).
Yes, there is some crossover, but for the most part, Twitter users want quick headlines with juicy enough reason to want to click through a link. If you are trying to reach Youtube users, know that they are LOOKING for a “wow” with a visual impact - professionally produced videos, or even CGC (Consumer-Generated Content), with some intelligent thought into presentation. Then you can reap the rewards of people subscribing and posting comments and maybe even their own video comments.

10. Test! Test! Test!
I am lucky enough to have a network that is on top of the content that I send, so when I have a link that doesn’t work, or a typo (because I just hit “send” a little too quickly, and yes, I’m trying to get over that…), they let me know.

You could even hire a usability consultant, maybe hire a panel of experts to do testing, or you could do a focus group if it came down to it - point is...
No one can assume that their content is going to be the winning lottery ticket. Just as you’ve invested your time in growing your social media content, take the time to test it. Through different browsers, through different eyeballs, through the mountains white with snow.


  1. I think for a lot of businesses, both large and small, keeping up with social media marketing is just too time consuming. That, and the fact that they not only don't commit the necessary manpower to implement a Web 2.0 strategy but they don't commit to it in a consistent way. I couldn't agree more that these types of communications need to be authentic, which is why assigning some "kid" or intern to do it just doesn't cut it. It really needs to be the voice of the owner(s) or people who maintain the keys to the company vision.

  2. I completely agree that social media marketing is a process in itself, that should be fully integrated, working together with the other parts of the engine - and it needs a tune up every so often to keep it revving up, and someone keeping their eye on the dashboard to see if the check engine light pops up - monitoring and controlling is key, but LISTENING is everything. I like your point about the voice speaking to the company's vision. Great stuff!