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How social media forces businesses to be content creators

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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