What is social media content anyway?

Image via justmeans.com


This is the question that has a lot of marketers puzzled, to say the least. We’ve pretty much moved past the “if you build it they will come” mentality – and have instead moved into Content is king, and context is queen way of thinking. So where does the content come from?

Working in software, the first idea that comes to mind when we hear “content” is marketing & product content. This is readily available most of the time, and is the easiest way to publish something every working-day to our Facebook & twitter properties. After months of doing this, though, I realized this is not the best route. Our users are engaged, but could we do a better job? You can always do better, I tell myself.

When you search and crowdsource what others in the industry are doing, you will almost always get the same answers:

Start a blog then post your blog. You can leverage existing materials, customer testimonials, throw in the odd product announcement sprinkled with questions and don’t forget promos & contests – this is about ROI y’know.

Right. That makes sense. Start a blog (without having any particular platform, you’ll figure it out eventually). Take your testy marketing materials and push them out to the public that already sees them through other channels. When you launch a product or a patch – you should put that in there too, people are SO interested in that kind of stuff. Then, sometimes – to make the audience feel like you care; ask them a question. Don’t worry about the results though, you don’t have to do anything with those. Sell people stuff, people love it when you do that. Then buy their love with gifts – that about covers it.

If you didn’t catch it there, that was complete and utter sarcasm. These are my tips folks, pay attention:

Tell Stories: This is all you really have to do, and I know I have emphasized this in a lot of my blog posts. The most simple way to attract people to you, is to give them a reason to be attracted. People relate to people, not campaigns. Tell stories about your company, your employees, your customers, your non-customers, anyone! Be attractive to the single most powerful human instinct, emotion. It could even be little tweaks to the things you are already doing, for instance:

You can now buy triple absorbent pads for your Swiffer Sweeper. Available at Walmart, Target, and RiteAid in your city.


Meet Amy, she loves Swiffer Sweeper, so we asked her for some feedback on the pads to see if we were getting the job done right. She told us that the pads weren’t absorbent enough – we listened. You can now get your triple absorbent pads at Wal-mart, RiteAid, or Target. Let us know what you think! [Insert smiling picture of Amy with her new Swiffer]

See what I did there? I turned everyday marketing babble into a story, a story that people can relate to. I put a human face to it. Ta-da. There’s only one catch with this – it has to be authentic. Amy can’t be some marketing persona you made up, you actually have to go find her.

Do stuff: Go to events, talk to people, network. Content will always come from these types of things. You also have a kick-butt way to actually meet your customers, or potentially, find new ones. Take pictures, videos, & build relationships offline that you can transfer into online relationships – then once you’ve done that, tell the story.

Ask questions and then do something with the answers: If there is one thing that could probably not be anymore annoying than it already is, it’s when brands ask their fans for feedback with no purpose. If you are interested in what people are telling you – ask questions. If you’re not interested – don’t ask questions. It really is that simple. If Clairol, for instance, asked me what my favorite hair-dye color was – I’d expect that my answer was not given in vain. Whether it’s producing a cool infographic, publishing the answers on your blog, or actually incorporating that feedback into product development or something of equal value – you must use this information. This is quasi-market-research here, and it is a lot more valuable then you think.

Last but not least, Put your users in the spotlight: With little exceptions, especially in big business, users create better content then you ever will. A tutorial that they create, a photo that they take of themselves using your products, vlogs, etc. are ten times more valuable than anything you will create. Why, you ask? Because they cared enough about you to do it. While they may not always be accurate (especially in technical cases), they are gold. Freekin’ gold. Stop using a push-focused “brand-cuffed” mentality and share user generated content at least three times more than you share your own.

In the social media age, you don’t control the message anymore. The message is completely in the hands of the consumer – so put them first and make it a positive one. Make it human, make it authentic.

What are your tips for social media content?



  1. Alan · July 11, 2011

    Great post, very informational and motivational. Nice personal touch as well. I feel like social marketing even more so than a minute ago.

  2. Darren McLaughlin · July 14, 2011

    Excellent post, Amy. I plan on utilizing several of your tips. Thanks for the information! 🙂

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