I am not an SEO. I’m not a “social media guru” or “twitter famous” or even some kind of start-up or business genius.
What I am, is part of the great unwashed social media consumers. What I am, is sick and tired of the crap that people produce because those “experts” think they get it.
They don’t – and here is why. The social media network has a keyword in there. Social. It is not the “direct marketing” media network nor the “targeted consumer” media network.
Yet this is exactly what I feel most writers of blogs and branded content see it as. This is part of the reason I decided it was time to put down some guidelines and rules for people who want to utilise social media to promote themselves, their products and their business … especially to those like me.
With so many corporations enforcing social media blocking at the corporate gateway, chances are that the majority of people are going to read content from Social Media sources during non-business hours or during breaks and downtime. Even if they are not limited by corporate governance, it is a good rule of thumb to assume they are. So, ask yourself – why would I read you in my time?
This is a very simple question, but one most authors fail to consider. What are you offering me? What makes you worth giving up my personal time for? Are you offering me anything to help me as a person? As a customer? To do my job?
Your content should be like a store window. It should offer me an unobstructed view of the goodies. .
Here’s a tough pill for many to swallow … It is not about you or your clever ideas.
You need to put the reader first.
Your writing should be clear. It should be conversational. Engaging. Offering the chance of interaction. It shouldn’t be an announcement, not some corporate statement … and never preaching. If you are trying to educate, be persuasive. But never try to write to impress.
Focus on the content.
Readers are there and willingly wanting to feel that they can relate to you and your content. So, don’t keep throwing the branding down every second line. Do not keep trying to work in the latest campaign line or sales push into every message. There are other outlets for that. This is a space and a set of tools for conversations.
That said, know your own voice.
Write how you’d actually talk to your customers and your colleagues. The reality is that you will converse with a great range of people outside of the blog posts or choreographed status messages.
Replies, eMails, forum threads will all become part of the way you interact with the people on the other end of those electrons. It is far easier to be consistent when you are being you, than trying to maintain whatever image you think should be portrayed.
That said, do not drop down to writing like you’re texting a teenager. However, there is no need to be a high brow grammar toff either. It is about engaging content – as long as it is well-crafted, interesting and comprehensible, then your job is done.
Which reminds me, not everyone will like you.
That’s the bad news. Get used to it now. Expect it. Expect “trolls” who will come up from unknown parts and attack you. They will attack you publicly. They will attack you mercilessly. They will leave with no care of the destruction left behind.
The good news is that if you assume that most people are jaded and sceptical then you can write with the aim of combating the naysayers. Yes, even those who refuse to believe even concrete, supported, absolute facts. Maybe even those who refuse to look at anything that in some way are at odds with their own beliefs.
Take into account that whilst you hope that people are coming in and reading your content from top to bottom and devouring every word, the reality is that, at first at least, the best you can expect is that they probably found an individual post through a highly specific search or a shared link and they are simply scanning it to quickly glean whatever information they are after.
Does that mean you should just post two hundred word succinct posts with lots of subheads and links? No.
The more engaging the content, the more accessible you are, the greater the chance that readers will stop and search through more of your content. They’ll read other posts. They may subscribe. They may even search more about your company and follow the content you point to.
Which, if done correctly, are subtle. They should be used, by all means, but don’t force the issue. Don’t do the whole “click here” or “for more information” hammer blow. Write your copy. Go back. Hyperlink actual words and phrases that naturally lend themselves to other content that your readers can use to find out more information.
So, that’s the basics. Go. Become part of the conversation with your customers.