Start with Content

Imagine you’re at a conference in some swanky hotel out of state. The first breakout session just ended and everyone is encouraged to spend the next 30 minutes networking.

As you are becoming acquainted with your group you notice a young man heading your way like a shark after chum. He flashes a dazzling smile and thrusts his hand out. You shake it, so does the woman you were just talking with.

“You guys having fun?”

“How about this weather!”

“I don’t know about you but my back is killing me from that plane ride.”

“They got food at this thing, I hope.”

He’s looking all around the room during this brief interaction, after which he walks off and intrudes on another conversation.

He is engaging with you and everyone else in the room. No doubt about that. But do you get the impression that you will glean any professional value out of conversing with him?

He has achieved visibility, but it is clear that is the extent of his personal marketing strategy. He has nothing to say.

This is unfortunately the strategy for too many social media campaigns: Step 1: Post frequently; Step 2: Be seen; Step 3: Hope for the best.

The world social media leader Facebook is constantly augmenting the news feed recipe to weed out the equivalent of bad networkers in favor of storytellers of substance. Clickbait a la “You won’t believe what happens next!” will fall lower in news feeds as posts (stories) people really want to see rise.

Social media began as a competition to see who could shout the loudest. Today’s social media more closely follows “offline”, in-person social rules. Engagement is about building relationships. It is about sharing knowledge. It is about asking thought-provoking questions that serve a greater purpose than just comment baiting.

To be successful in social media marketing you can no longer think like an advertiser. You have to think like a journalist.

After the pleasantries of the “Where are you from?” variety, what if the man at the conference had asked, “What did you think of that first session? Have you had experiences like that?”

What if he had offered his experiences in return? In effect, you would both now be effective content marketers. Your discussion would rise to the top of the “news feeds” of everyone around you because it would have substance. It would have real value beyond just being seen.

Don’t go to a conference with nothing to ask and nothing to say. Likewise, don’t enter the social media space with a posting plan devoid of anything people actually want to read. Start with content, or watch your audience walk away.

Social media managers: do your clients have something to say but they’re not sure how to put it in writing? Let’s talk about how I can help you build and executive a content strategy.