So, you’ve been hired on – could be a tech company, finance, sales, roofing – you name it. You’re a marketer, and love the business side, but now, somehow, you’re also a Social Media Coordinator or Outreach. Whatever the title, whatever the organization, you are now in charge of making sure that the website, the Twitter feed, the Facebook feed, and the blog are all current, snazzy, and regularly pumping out that stuff known as content.
If this is you, this post is here to help. I’m only going to touch a bit on the technical aspects, since this is going to focus mainly on writing. Because the rest can be figured out with some tinkering and Google searches. Some of these tips you’ll have already seen in the advice posts you’ve Googled in a panic about digital marketing content, and some may not even get broad agreement from marketing professionals. But they’re what I’ve learned through my own experience, and for those marketers who are new to dealing with content, hopefully you’ll find them helpful.
Show who you are and if you can, have your colleagues contribute
When I helped out on the indiegogo campaign for a film, the posts with the largest impact weren’t from me, but from the crew on set. People responded best to seeing the people behind their project, seeing where they were at, what was going on, and building a connection with each member. One voice isn’t enough, and most importantly, if you have others who can give you suggestions or edit, it gives you quality control. If you find yourself social media coordinator, talk to your colleagues. What are they doing that’s interesting that you could write about? Maybe you could interview them and give your followers new insight on your company? Maybe it’s halloween and Dave from IT is wearing a wicked costume. This is all good digital content fodder.
Set your sights modest at the beginning
Building an audience takes time, and while it’s important to know what metrics are and to track them, looking at numbers day by day or week by week will not get very far. To build a following, you have to think in terms of months if not years. The most important part of this is being consistent. Even if it’s not very frequent, posting on a scheduled, regular basis is vital. Slow and steady growth is okay. That means when those big viral hits come, all those new viewers will have more material to like and share, and will know you and your organization are worth following.
A Note on SEO
SEO is important to understand when building your web page, as the correct of use of semantics helps Google read your site and rank its search results. But as for the content on the webpage, trying to optimize it is vastly overrated. Google is constantly revising their software so it can avoid being gamed. I’ve seen all sorts of discussions about word order in headlines, or other tricks, and it mostly just makes writing convoluted and robotic, and could actually diminish your search standing. When writing the actual content, don’t worry about SEO. That’s a platform issue, not a content issue. Focus on the human readers, not the machine ones. Even if you have the best SEO in the world, if what you are writing is not compelling it will not help you.
Keep it simple
Avoid jargon as much as possible. Business content abounds with it, and it has the effect not only of making the authors sound like robots, but worse, it makes them all sound the same. Even if your audience is more than familiar with the industry terms, the harder they have to work to understand your work, the more of a slog it is to read, and the less likely they are to share or like it. You want to differentiate yourself while appealing to the most people possible. Making your writing accessible does not mean having to make it dumbed-down. Don’t be the blog or account that people read because their boss likes it. Be the one that they read on the subway or before they go to bed because they enjoy it.
Take risks. Have fun!
Don’t be scared to experiment. Don’t despair if those interactions aren’t pouring in. It takes time and if you dedicate the time you will get better. Try new things and if they don’t take off, don’t worry. The only thing mightier than the Internet’s capacity to remember is the Internet’s capacity to forget anyway. Your first priority is to build some sort of emotional connection, and leave the reader thinking “well, that wasn’t a waste of time.” If you do that, consider it mission accomplished. So if you think you have a way to make your organization’s content funny, or uplifting, or touching, go for it. You’ll also find that makes writing it a lot more enjoyable.