Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love is king, but is content?

This image is from Shelly's Pybop "Content strategy Success in 5 Steps." It's a really clear visual of the flow and process that I think is crucial. It's very worth studying.

This week I've been training nonprofit arts groups in the art of social media. In one section, I discussed "worthy content." I flinched a wee bit as I did so. There's plenty of worthy content out there that barely sees the light, and there's plenty of unworthy content that sees way too much light. Who am I to judge?

The consumer of said content.

That said, it's subjective.

But people want a formula.

So there's a book.

Ann Hadley & C.C. Chapman wrote a book, Content Rules. In the words of Beth Kanter,
The book shares the secrets to creating good content on social channels that engages your audiences. They offer principles, how-to steps and tips, and case studies. My favorite chapter is “Reimagine: Don’t Recycle: Anatomy of Content Circle of Life.”
Beth does a fairly detailed review, so you can read that at her site.

I'm more intrigued by the question one of the authors, Ann, asks, "Can you have a social media strategy without a content strategy?"

For what it's worth, here are a few things I've learned after doing this for a few years:

1. We do need to create good and interesting content. It starts with listening though. It's more important to share what your community needs and wants to hear. Just as in any other real conversation.

2. You need an overall communications strategy. Within that, you need a social media strategy and within that, you need a content strategy. These all aim to achieve the ultimate goals of your organization and need to be designed to work together. They should not be niched in silos.

3. Within each strategy, you need well-designed and organized tactics that aim to achieve the strategy.

Are these statements of the obvious? Sure.

But they also answer the question. You do need a plan.

In a training class yesterday, I talked about creating a micro content strategy. Working with arts groups, I talked about looking at your calendar for the year, and deciding which pieces you wanted to do social outreach for, then determine your strategy and within that, design your tactics.

For example, a theater group might do four plays in a regular season, but beyond that they might have an apprentice program for youth. That's a great point of outreach. It offers interesting content, compelling visuals, and a group you can likely reach in social media. It enables the organization to humanize their social media, show ways their community can engage beyond merely viewing shows, and opens up opportunities for interaction, especially if they do a special event such as live improv (opportunity for crowdsourcing in advance, for example).

The point of creating a strategy for the content is to ensure that each action and tactic remain focused on the ultimate objective and work to accomplish this goal as well as the overarching organization goals.

You can have social media with a strategy, and you can have content without a strategy, but how well will it work, and ensure your organization accomplishes your main goals? Not that well, in my experience.

So what do you think? Can you have a social media strategy without a content strategy? To answer and win your copy of Content Rules, please comment on the Zoetica site.

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