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This article was published on August 9, 2011

5 sure-fire ways to produce winning social media content

5 sure-fire ways to produce winning social media content
Dan Taylor
Story by

Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is a professional Photographer and freelance writer based in Vienna, Austria. Dan is a co-founder at Heisenberg Media and speci Dan Taylor is a professional Photographer and freelance writer based in Vienna, Austria. Dan is a co-founder at Heisenberg Media and specializes in conference photography. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter

Driving a social media program takes a lot of creativity. Not only in how/when/where/why you and your organization post, but perhaps most importantly what you’re posting. There’s simply no substitute for great content. However, the trouble with great content is that the more audience members you bring home, there are ever more mouths to feed. Perhaps a better way to phrase it is; the beast is never full. So with so many channels to fill, what’s an enterprising young social media maverick to do?

Here are 5 sure-fire tips to keep that content wheel not only producing great product, but staying on point and true to your organizations’ message.

Ask the Question

Whether it’s a blog post, a tweet, or a Facebook update, asking questions from your readers is a fun and easy way to engage your audience and dig a bit deeper into some of their habits based on their answers. With that said, do not go forth and pose such mundane questions as, “How are you today?” or “What’s on tap for the weekend?” Such questions are merely water cooler talk, and yes, you’ll get a few responses, but not much. To really get the conversation going, ask big, bold questions, particularly ones that are not easy to answer, or ones that ride the fine line of polarization. Not only will these types of queries fire up a certain segment of your base, but if posed correctly, they’ll light up the response tree, and pull previous respondents back to see what others have said.

Warning: While big questions 9 times out of 10 get big answers, tread lightly in this area. Know who your consumers are before jumping into the deep end of the pool. Remember what mama always taught you: The three topics at any dinner conversation to avoid are Sex, Politics, and Religion. Anything thereafter…well, use your best judgment. And if you’re wrong…lesson learned, mea culpa, do not repeat.

Open the Back Door

People love to be on the “inside track”. If you or your organization have an upcoming release of a new product, version, etc. let your fans know about it. That’s not to say that you have to show them the entire project roadmap, or even a finalized version, but providing glimpses of something they might not see anywhere other than your social media channels accomplishes two goals: One, you’ve created that, “We have something special, and because we think you’re special, we’re going to share it with you,” factor that we as human beings absolutely love, and two, you’ve just given these fans even more reason to continue coming back to your social media outlets, always hoping for that next “inside scoop.”

The same can be true for your organization itself. Remember the first time you saw images of Google’s HQ in Mountain View? I’ll bet you shared that webpage with a colleague, friend, or loved one. This is another variant of Opening the Back Door. By providing your community with a “day in the life” or a video/image tour of your office, fans will feel an affinity worth more than gold. And remember…consumers are far more likely to purchase from someone that they know, over someone that they don’t.

Tool Time

If you’re in business, you’re there to fix a problem. Whether you paint houses for a living, build software, or manage production lines, your business is solving others’ problems. Yes, social media would technically fall under the department of marketing, but that’s not to say that your channels should be anything less than your organization as a whole – i.e. problem solvers. Have a look at the backlog of your SM channel comments. Chances are, you’ve probably played a hand in some front line customer support. Are these recurring support related questions? If so, why not make a blog post/video/webinar, etc. addressing this issue? If you’ve done it right, you’ll never have to mention it again, as your community will self-serve, and other users will point future question posers to this piece.

Based on this theory and testing, be proactive! It should go without saying that you should be keeping a close eye on your analytics at all times, and if you notice a certain hangup or particular page or area of your website that visitors are spending a lot of time on, have a think about what you can do to cut this hangup off at the pass. If consumers see you addressing their concerns before they’ve even come to you with questions, you’ll soon get filed under “Thought Leader” and your sales team owes you a dinner.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

In today’s “always on” society, we’re constantly bombarded with this bit of information, and that bit of information. Hey…you…yes, stop checking your BlackBerry, and keep reading this article. And here’s why: We all love a good story. Let your community hear a good one. It doesn’t even have to be particularly related to your company, but it must relate to the audience you’re trying to reach. For example, your average beer drinker probably isn’t going to care too much about the Loire Valley, and while the wine produced in this region is exquisite, if you tell them a tale about your braumeisters heading off to Bavaria to hand sample the hops that are used to brew their beer…well, you see where I’m going with this.

Remember, if your consumers can relate to the story that you’re telling, they might not remember the fine details of said story, but they’ll remember that it came from you, ultimately making you relevant in their lives, and eventually, far more likely to follow through on a purchase.

The Designated Hitter

Baseball pitchers are allowed to have someone go to the plate for them, why shouldn’t you? One of the most interesting content pieces to create is an interview with an industry expert. If you’re asking the right questions, one that you feel your readers would ask, the piece basically writes itself, and strikes a chord in the hearts and minds of your community. In doing an interview, you’ll also have the advantage of double exposure, meaning, not only will you release it to your community, but chances are, the interviewee will also spotlight your work in their channels, potentially introducing an entirely new client base to your offerings.

The same can be said for guest posts. Outside voices inside your world can breathe a breath of fresh air into the room, offering a unique point of view. Guest posters can be just about anyone under the sun, provided that they can add value to, or create new discussions that resonate with your community. Got a prolific user of your product? Get in touch with them and see if they’d be open to sharing their usage with the community. If they’re using your product day and night, chances are, they’ve discovered a few features that you’ve been pushing since day one, but have never really resounded with your consumers. Said guest poster could have a unique way of doing something with your product that fans and/or you have never thought of.

Bonus Tip: The B Roll

Got some footage up on YouTube, Vimeo, et. al? Bar none, people love to see B roll footage. Whether it’s your presenter completely flubbing a few lines, a backdrop that simply refuses to cooperate, or an airplane flying over during that crucial scene, B roll footage leaves the Back Door Open, as well as provides background behind The Greatest Story Ever Told.

When used in combination with your ongoing social media, marketing, and sales campaigns, you’re sure to never run out of interesting and engaging content. Not only can you keep a steady stream of content ongoing, but by carefully analyzing users’ reactions to some of the above, you’ll be better equipped to anticipate their needs and wants, and deliver before they even knew they wanted it.

Got content tips of your own? Let’s hear it below!

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