Creating high quality content will be a major focus for brands in 2014. Strengthening your online presence will rely on it, and for many businesses this poses a new challenge, a new element to factor into their strategic planning. But creating engaging, quality content needn't be a daunting task. Yes, it takes additional time, in research and planning, and skill, in writing, but people within your business have vast experience in their respective fields and your company has diverse interests and stories through its staff and affiliations. You just need to work out how to find and share these elements in an engaging way, and one which allow you to showcase your brand's expertise and reinforce your company values.
In one of my previous posts I noted some tips on writing shareable content. One of those notes was 'quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them'. This is an important point in creating great content, but there are a few other elements to consider which will also help you create better brand stories.
1. Your content doesn't necessarily have to be about your company's products and services.
In a recent article on Coca Cola's corporate website revamp, Coke's Group Director of Digital Communications and Social Media Ashley Brown noted that half the website's content has nothing to do with the brand. The focus is on story, in alignment with strategy. Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' ad campaign is a premium example of this. Whilst not mentioning products, this content underlines the mission of the business. This feeds better relationships with the brand - and social media is all about building relationships. Strong stories that reinforce the aims and values of your company have the potential to establish an emotional connection with your audience, which will, in turn, maximise the reach potential of your content. Establishing the humanity of your business, the link betweeen your brand and the reader's daily life, is a key element of story-based content.
2. Does the content align with your brand's strategic goals and values?
You need to have a strategic plan for social media, measureable goals for achievement. Once these are established, any and all content you create needs to be cross-checked against them to ensure it fits into the overall strategy. Maybe you choose to do a story about the company's sponsorship of a local sports team. Maybe you focus on the benefits your brand has delivered to a community. Whatever it is, once you have an idea down, you need to ensure the desired results align with, and reinforce, your strategic objectives. And worth confirming the content doesn't conflict with your company values, particularly if they're public knowledge.
3. Does the content inform and offer a new angle on a topic?
Here's a more challenging one, and one which you may need help with. Finding a unique angle can be difficult, but it'll ensure your content is more compelling and shareable. One thing to keep in mind is no one can tell your story. Every person has something unique to say. This also relates to your brand - no one else has the same experience as your company. Can you find a way to present a story that offers something new and, ideally, something with heart? A pulse, is what I call it. When I'm reading content, the thing that really gets me is when something comes alive. It has a pulse, a passion that the writer has been able to translate. It's often when you can tell this is something the writer genuinely cares about. Then it has that pulse, that human factor, and you can connect with it on a deeper level. This is probably the most challenging aspect of creating great content, and one which may require the assistance of a professional writer.
4. Attention to detail is the difference between good and great
This is always a risky one to put in because everyone makes mistakes, misses a word, forgets to turn off their LinkedIn activity broadcasts before overhauling their profile. Anytime I note this, I always double check everything I've written to make sure I haven't slipped up when I'm making a point of it (and normally I have) but this is universally true. Attention to detail elevates your work to the next level. It may take longer, it may be a pain to check and re-check, but it will shine through in the end. Everyone makes mistakes, but as long as you can press save and honestly know you've done all you can to ensure it's the best it can be, then you're on the right track.
5. Is this something you would want to read and, more importantly, share with your followers and connections?
No doubt most of you are like me and you read through 20-30 articles each morning, staying on top of industry news as well as other items of personal interest. As you do this, think about how many of those articles you feel a compulsion to share. Think about why you want to share them. Consciously think over what makes the content you share 'shareable', then apply those findings to your work. Does your content stack up? Can it be more shareable?
There's no definitive guide to what will and won't be shared, and as noted, there are professional services that can assist in writing and planning, but hopefully these points will help you expand your thinking on how you approach the challenge of content creation and give you a better idea of the direction you want to take for your brand.