How social media forces businesses to be content creators

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Cre­at­ing con­tent has become a pret­ty impor­tant skill for busi­ness­es these days. Com­pa­nies know they need a social media pres­ence because that’s what mil­lions of peo­ple see dai­ly. But the prob­lem is most busi­ness­es are not designed to pump out con­tent. The result?

The result is bad con­tent. Social media plat­forms have basi­cal­ly forced busi­ness­es to be con­tent cre­ators, whether they’re good at it or not. So some do an excel­lent job at cre­at­ing con­tent, while oth­ers mere­ly pub­lish “social media posts” that don’t serve the busi­ness in the long run.

Companies need a cohesive content strategy, focused on making CONTENT, not social media posts.

Com­pa­nies and non-prof­its often (a) hire some­one inter­nal­ly to cre­ate posts and respond to mes­sages, (b) hire an out­side com­pa­ny to man­age their dig­i­tal assets, or © ignore it. Those who choose option C are either self-sus­tain­ing ser­vices or not doing too well. But those who opt to pay an indi­vid­ual to do their con­tent often fall into a trap of “cre­at­ing aver­age posts” instead of strate­gic, focused con­tent.

Com­pa­nies who cre­ate focused con­tent win. Busi­ness­es that share social media updates add noise.

My story: creating content for brands

I still remem­ber talk­ing about social media and con­tent to adults in busi­ness when I was in col­lege. I saw their eyes light up. They knew what I was say­ing about social media could mean a lot for their busi­ness, so they hired me, and I made a few extra dol­lars.

Although I believe I con­tributed my very best, I am rethink­ing how com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions should think about cre­at­ing con­tent for their web­sites and social media.

The wrong way: “POST SOMETHING

When I man­aged mul­ti­ple social media pro­files, and what I see a lot of these days, is a lot of “aver­age posts” that look and smell like what con­tent should be, but isn’t what is need­ed.

You’ll see ran­dom shares from pop­u­lar pages, maybe a fun­ny meme or two, an inspi­ra­tional quote, and updates about their busi­ness. These serve as “aver­age posts” but to call it true “con­tent” would be an over­state­ment and per­haps a com­pli­ment.

We hold con­tent to a high stan­dard.

The right way: “GOOD CONTENT

Good con­tent is far supe­ri­or to a social media post and in a whole sep­a­rate class. Often busi­ness­es will share good con­tent that serve as a decent post, but I see very few com­pa­nies actu­al­ly step­ping up and cre­at­ing the good con­tent for them­selves that will serve their read­ers.

Platforms need people to be everyday content creators

Com­pa­nies like Snapchat, Face­book, Twit­ter, LinkedIn, Insta­gram, Yelp, and so on all rely on every­day con­sumers to post what I’ll call “every­day con­tent” …every day. You know what I’m talk­ing about. Opin­ions, thoughts, vaca­tion pho­tos, and lit­tle anec­dotes. (It’s a mis­take for a busi­ness to spend too much time on posts like this!) As much as these exist for us to inter­act and stay “con­nect­ed,” it’s mere­ly a means to an end for the social giants to make more prof­it. (Gasp.)

Facebook helps me...connect?”

When I hear adults jus­ti­fy Face­book, they often talk about the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of their friends’ con­tent—not about the con­sis­tent mar­ket­ing and ads they see every­day, which is how the com­pa­ny earns prof­it.

I’ll hear talk about . . . con­nect­ing with their old friends from col­lege or high school . . . and how it’s a way for their fam­i­ly to stay up-to-date with one anoth­er. I’ll hear peo­ple talk about their annoy­ing neigh­bor who can’t stop post­ing about work prob­lems . . . or that dude who’s always yap­ping about pol­i­tics.

And while both of these things are true, the busi­ness mod­el of social media is for aver­age peo­ple to cre­ate “every­day con­tent” so pay­ing busi­ness­es can pay their way into your news­feed, side­bar, and now mes­sen­ger.

Yet there’s not a huge back­lash against tar­get­ed or spon­sored con­tent. In fact, we embrace it, engage with it, some­times share it. It’s just the way it is.

The business of social media

The busi­ness of social media relies on aver­age, every-day con­tent to be post­ed so you will come back again tomor­row and get more ads—which they get paid for whether you click or not. Red noti­fi­ca­tions are strate­gi­cal­ly trig­gered (you know, those lit­tle red num­bers?) so you keep com­ing back, and back, and back, and back—so they can con­tin­ue to make more mon­ey and more mon­ey. Your brain gets addict­ed to check­ing for noti­fi­ca­tions, and since there’s always one there, you return again and again.

If this is new infor­ma­tion to you, you may feel vio­lat­ed or shocked. You may even decide to do a Face­book fast and to “quit social media.” But even­tu­al­ly, you’ll be back, and that’s ok. You’ll come to under­stand that the giant com­pa­nies are going to make their mon­ey no mat­ter what. And it real­ly IS awe­some that we can be “con­nect­ed” through their ser­vices. And the ads you’re get­ting are prob­a­bly more tai­lored to your pref­er­ences than if you were being served with more main­stream ads like it used to be on TV.

Business content creators

In the same way that aver­age, every­day peo­ple cre­ate con­tent to post on their per­son­al feeds, busi­ness wind up fol­low­ing the same mod­el. Instead of using it to their advan­tage, they post updates about their busi­ness, their his­to­ry, their pho­tos and videos.

Some of that is OK.

The prob­lem is busi­ness­es focus too much on “get­ting on social media” instead of using the plat­forms as a con­duit to deliv­er mean­ing­ful con­tent to peo­ple.

Using the plat­form as a con­duit is pow­er­ful but typ­i­cal­ly under used.

The problem: most businesses aren’t designed to create content

Cre­at­ing con­tent is…well, a cre­ative process. It takes time, ener­gy, and the right resources to get it done. You may need a writer, a graph­ic design­er, a video­g­ra­ph­er, and some­one able to trou­bleshoot tech issues that get in the way of press­ing pub­lish.

The solution: FOCUS

Bet­ter con­tent starts and is sus­tained by focus. An exam­ple might be a cof­fee shop that cre­ates a series of high-val­ue videos that explain every aspect of what makes a good cup…or how to taste dif­fer­ences in each roast. The key is find­ing a way to pro­vide mas­sive val­ue to cur­rent or pos­si­ble customers…not a fleet­ing post.

While I can already hear hasn’t that already been done??, you’re miss­ing the point. If you cre­ate it with your name, voice, style, and vibe—that HAS NOT been done, and needs to be.

Not only does focused con­tent solve the “post prob­lem” (fig­ur­ing out what to put on social media) it pro­vides a strat­e­gy for the future.

Focused con­tent serves the busi­ness in the long term while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly serv­ing users of the web.

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