Archive for category: Content

Facebook Style Content – Could It Choke LinkedIn?

24 Feb
February 24, 2016

Something unprofessional is happening with LinkedIn’s news feed.

While it’s always been terrible to navigate because it of the way it decides on Top Posts on a whim (try refreshing the page and watch it completely change), there is a trend that is on the rise which threatens the quality of the content and engagement.

I am talking about the increasing number of content pieces that are typically the domain of other networks, particularly Facebook style content.

Memes and pictures of lunch your friends share on their Instagram and Facebook? They’re now sitting right beside your 10 Habits of Highly Productive People.

Is Facebook style content choking LinkedInPolitical posts that talk about how awesome Obama is doing, and that the republicans are wrong? Fitspo (apparently actually a word)? Questionably attributed celebrity quotes? All present and accounted for.
I spent ten minutes browsing my news feed each day over the last week and found at least 3 examples each day. All of these have the potential to choke LinkedIn’s already confusing and busy news feed and suck the life out of it.

I spent ten minutes browsing my news feed each day over the last week and found at least 3 examples each day. All of these have the potential to choke LinkedIn’s already confusing and busy news feed and suck the life out of it.

Where Is It Stemming From?

The main offenders are not always amongst your own LinkedIn connections. Given the way LinkedIn treats engagement with posts and presents them in your feed, whenever you begin liking or commenting on the content, it brings the full post to the attention of your network.

In a self-perpetuating cycle, even as we comment to tell people “this doesn’t belong here”, it increasingly appears “here”. It may be a third or even fourth-degree connection, but eventually, it makes it there.

So what’s wrong with it exactly?

It’s About The Nature of the Connection

LinkedIn connections are generally single faceted. Unlike Facebook, where occasional acquaintances to nearest and dearest fall under the very broad definition of “friend”, LinkedIn is by its definition a network of professionals.

Professional content, or more suited to Facebook?

Your connection is around what you do for a living – I have either done business with you, I’m interested in your expertise in your field, or I want to sell you an SEO solution (you know who you are…).

When you begin to introduce Facebook style content into the equation, your begin to make the relationship personal, which some business connections may not appreciate it. You can see it in the comments.

Define Your Social Tone Of Voice

If you are adding this type of content to LinkedIn, it’s important to consider before posting. Personal brand is of the utmost importance now, and the way in which you express these opinions online may lead to current and future business partners to take pause and reconsider your relationship.

Decide what you want to be known for online. Create your social tone of voice. I have a simple framework for deciding what and where to share:

How to decide what content to share on what social platform

LinkedIn makes it hard enough to find great content without having to wade through low-quality stuff. Use it to position yourself as a leader in your field, even if you’re not yet. Keep the memes on Facebook, wit on Twitter and lunch on Instagram.

How to Switch from Recent to Top Posts on LinkedInIncidentally, if you’re looking how to re-order from Top Posts to Recent posts, it these 3 little dots wedged in between your Publish a Post button and the first update in your feed. Obvious, right?

 

A 4 Step Framework for Content Curation

12 May
May 12, 2015

Any good content strategy is a mix of created and curated content, and in many cases, curated will be the dominant part of that. It plays an important part in building trust and authority in whatever business you’re in.

While content curation is not just confined to sharing links on social channels, it perhaps the dominant method.

I curate at least 18 content pieces a day across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to on the fly retweets and shares). and over time I have built up a framework to support the what, when and how.

It breaks down into four elements.

Find Trusted Sources

Your curated output will only be as good as the content you consume. Creating authority through sharing means that you need to find consistent, trusted sources for that content.

I find pieces to share from a wide and varied range of places

  • Newsletters – I subscribe to a dozen different newsletters from individual sites, and scan them each morning for headlines that grab me
  • Aggregators – Further to the newsletters from these individual blogs, there are a number of aggregator newsletters I also use, such as Swayy and SmartBrief that find top pieces of content around a theme
  • Feeds – I use Buffer’s Feeds function, but you can also use tools like Feedly, to bring together stories from other sites I like into a single feed
  • Twitter Lists and Search – I have a number of Twitter search columns set up in TweetDeck around themes like social media and content marketing, as well as lists of key influencers tweets that I can always find something interesting to read
  • Facebook Saved Links / Twitter Favourites – Facebook’s saved links has come in very handy as a way of bookmarking content I like, or want to read later. In the same vein, I use Twitter’s favourite function as a way of bookmarking links for later. These are also particularly good as a way of finding evergreen content to share again.

UPDATE: Looking for some more trusted sources? Check out this post from Buffer.

Read & Organise

Reading the content you plan on sharing may sound fairly obvious, but surprisingly, there is little to suggest that links actually get read before they are shared.

Ever shared something on a channel and had someone like it or retweet it so quickly that they couldn’t have possibly read it? I have seen content on this blog shared multiple times on social platforms, and result in absolutely zero traffic, which as someone who writes with the hope of people reading can be disappointing.

Because you’re wanting to establish trust, read the content you are sharing to make sure that it fits with your social tone of voice and philosophy. Don’t blindly share just because it may have your topic of interest as its overarching theme.

Once you’ve read it, then you need to organise it all. I use Buffer almost exclusively for organising my content that will be shared. It allows me to organise when and where I will share it, and optimise (see next point) my curated content ahead of time.

First I need to work out what content is going to be shared where. The graphic below is a reasonably simple representation of how I determine what to share on the platforms I use the most. Although multiple platforms are listed against each, I may only choose one of them in each situation – as an example, I generally share once to LinkedIn to every five on Twitter. It will all depend on the piece of content.

1

 

Once you know where, then you need to think about the when.

I organise four ways:

  • Relevance – is the topic time sensitive, or relevant right now? Bring those up in the queue and give evergreen content some flexibility
  • Length – I tend to share shorter reads during business hours, with longer content pieces after close of business and weekends. Understand your audiences time available to consume it.
  • Uniqueness – Has it been shared heavily by other people who you could reasonably assume have a similar following to you? If I think yes, I tend to schedule it later when it can still be useful but not lost in a sea of tweets that are exactly the same.
  • Variation – When curating from trusted sources, you will often find many stories from the same site. Make sure you break these up so you’re not sending people to the same site every time.

Optimise

Despite all serving similar function, no two social channels are the same so it is imperative that each piece of content you intend on sharing is optimised for each channel.

When optimising for my channels, I look at four things:

  • Character Limits – Even though Twitter’s limit is 140 characters, according to some analysis the optimal length is actually 70. All networks have different post formats, and you should consider the length text of what you are sharing. Hubspot published a great post of templates for formats on Twitter recently.
  • Hashtags – add appropriate hashtags to content on Twitter, Instagram, G+ and Pinterest. Facebook uses hashtags as well, but there’s a lot of discussion about their actual usefulness. I tend to use 3 at most in any tweet.
  • Images – While most platforms will automatically support a rich preview of content shared, Twitter’s default is still text. Images however increase engagement up to 35% so make sure that where possible, your tweet carries one. Use the Buffer’s Share Image function that appears on hover to make it easy. Also, scroll through the image selected if you’re not happy with it.
  • Credit – Where possible, make sure you give credit to whoever created to the site where you found it, and the writer if possible (in the case of guest blogging and contributors)

Review

Reviewing what is upcoming in your schedule of curated content, as well as what has gone out, is important.

Keeping an eye on upcoming content helps you avoid instances where a story you are sharing has either become irrelevant in light of a change of circumstances, or worse when an event makes that content inappropriate, like Tesco’s ill-timed scheduled tweet a couple of years ago.

I always curate at least 2 days worth of content at a time, as there will be days where life takes over and I don’t find the time. But I am always aware of what’s in the queue.

Keep an eye on this, and also the opportunities to move content around as relevance changes.

Reviewing what has gone out is also important, so you know what resonates with your audience. Look at things like time of day, the hashtags you used and the kinds of users who have engaged with it. All of this will help inform the ‘organise’ step of the process for next time.

I hope you find this framework useful.

Last Week’s Top Social and Content Posts

20 Apr
April 20, 2015

Last week I started publishing a summary of what was most popular amongst the content I shared. This week, data and visual social media were the most popular themes from the content I curated.

So what were people looking at last week?

5 Social Media Image Size Hacks for Quick Visual Content

Top of the pile was a great post from Donna Moritz (@sociallysorted), on some hacks to build quick visual assets for your social media. Donna’s content is always great, and recommend following her.

Twitter Cuts off Data For Third Party Sellers

One of the bigger stories of the last week was Twitter, as they move into their own big data business through their Gnip acquisition.

10 Reasons Why Data Must Drive Your Content Strategy

I shared a similar post last week, and it’s obvious from the interactions I see with it that data and content strategy and hot topics. This post has 10 points that need consideration.

The Evolution of Advertising on Twitter, and What’s Next

I found this more retrospective, very light on the “what’s next” but it is an interesting read nonetheless.

Turn UGC Into Glorious Content

UGC was one of those things that marketers thought would be awesome in the early days of social media, then got a bad name because of the unreliable quality. But there is a way to do it right and turn it into something awesome.

Can Your Old Content Work Against You?

23 Mar
March 23, 2015

Last week I was looking at an old presentation I gave at a conference 3 years ago.

The deck itself wasn’t my finest work, and from my memory of the event, it was far from the greatest presentation I had ever given.

Partly it was the theme of the conference and my desire to pick up an early speaking gig even if it wasn’t an ideal fit, but largely it was the views I expressed at the time.

I looked at it in the the context of my current thinking on the subject I was speaking about, and it no longer felt like me.

As thinkers, we evolve, and while three years may not feel like a long time, the pure speed of information that shapes our opinions has changed. Three years ago we hadn’t heard of half the platforms that are now the biggest on the planet. Consumption habits change, attention spans get shorter. Customers demand more. But in the face of all that, we exist on platforms designed to house, archive and organise content for people to find easily.

So given this permanence, what is the impact of old content on a brand, be it a corporate or personal one?

The Only Constant Is Change

I read an excellent piece recently about Content Ownership and Agile Content Development, and what stood out for me was this – “When our organization changes, the education of our target audience changes, or even the way they consume data changes, we need to repeat the process.”

There will always be a bedrock of information that aligns to the industry you work in, especially if governed by legislation and regulation.

But when it comes to thought leadership, opinion and educational pieces, how do you manage when your organsiation changes a position, or your customers needs change?

Recency as a search criteria is important, and people are looking for information that is current.

Should You Delete Old Content?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with retiring old content, be it a white paper, a slide deck or a blog post. There will come a time where the relevance will decline. I don’t think this should be the first port of call, however.

The greater value is in review and updating, and where possible, calling out what has changed (which I am currently doing with the old presentation on my SlideShare). Why? Because it demonstrates that you have evolved as your market or customer has. It shows you as in tune with the audience. It also demonstrates how the reader should be thinking about things as well.

Make Content Maintenance Part of Your Process

Just like a car, your content should have a regular tune up. Not every week, but at the least every quarter.

This ensures that the small things are still relevant, given the speed at which information moves. It also facilitates efficiency in the process of creation, because your base line is already there.

There will be a time when the content itself no longer makes sense, and your promotion of it will naturally decline. If you can’t find the new value, or it no longer makes sense, then pull it down and maybe revisit it again at some stage when it may make sense.

But above all, you need to make sure what you’re talking about reflects both the current market, and your current opinion.

 

3 Things Seinfeld Taught Me About Storytelling

02 Feb
February 2, 2015

Most nights when there is nothing else on TV, I will flick on some repeats of Seinfeld, still one of my favourite shows ever. When I first started watching the show more than 20 years ago, it was hilarious.

I still find it just as funny, but it’s only now I can appreciate the genius that goes into creating memorable stories that are still quotable, 17 years after the last episode aired.

When we think about content, and content marketing, storytelling is such an important part of making it engaging.

As I watched, there were several things that jumped out at me as key elements to telling a memorable story.

Characters Matter

Anyone can tell a story, it’s something many of us do every day. They tend to follow familiar structures of beginning, middle and end. The structure of a sitcom in particular is very formulaic. However, it’s the way they are told within that structure that makes the difference.

Seinfeld is famously “the show about nothing” and if you were to hear someone talk you through the premise of some episodes (as George does below), you’d have to agree it would sound pretty uninspiring and you’d likely not watch.

But put that premise into the hands of a character like Kramer, George, or even a minor player in the Seinfeld universe, and all of a sudden it becomes engaging. Because each of them brings a unique voice, their characters voice to the storyline.

When you’re thinking about your content, think about who it is that’s telling the story. Find that voice, and bring it to the narrative.

Create Stories Within The Story – Then Bring It All Together

There’s a lot going on in each episode, and at times, all seem like disparate threads. Take the Season 6 episode of The Mom and Pop Store. The episode starts with the loose central premise of a Thanksgiving Party at dentist Tim Whately’s house that Jerry’s not sure he’s invited to. From here, it takes off in different directions as it breaks into sub-stories:

Story 1

  • Jerry gives his sneakers to a mom and pop store to repair
  • Kramer get a blood nose that causes him to lie down in the store and notice the wiring in the roof.
  • Mom and pop shut up shop as they can’t afford repairs and skip town with the all the shoes, leaving Jerry with only cowboy boots

Story 2

  • George buys a car he believes to be Jon Voight, that actor
  • Jerry goes through the glovebox and finds a chewed pencil and papers belonging to a different John Voight
  • George kicks Jerry out of the car in his cowboy boots and he falls and chips a tooth running from a gang
  • Kramer sees Jon Voight in the street and tries to ask him if it’s his car and gets bitten in the process

Story 3

  • Mr Pitt wants to hold the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, so Elaine guesses the big band song for him
  • Elaine loses her hearing sitting in front of a big band at the cafe where she is picking up the tickets

Now all of these are stories with comedic value in their own right. As with any story though, It’s important though that all of these come together into a resolution.

George and Kramer ask a dentist to compare the chewed pencil to the bite mark on Kramer’s arm. Tim grabs the pencil to take a note and puts it in his mouth, ruining the teeth mark and explains that he knows John Voight the dentist, who owned the car. Elaine, who wants Tim to ask her out ultimately rejects him at the party as she can’t hear him because she picked up Mr Pitt’s tickets. Jerry asks a dentist to look at his tooth, ultimately knocking a statue from the apartment and piercing Mr Pitt’s balloon.

All of the stories converge at once to round out the episode.

The lesson here for your content is that there are always going to many aspects to a story. To do them justice and tell them effectively, you need to break them down into sub stories. But the important part is making sure that they all fit together in the end. If they don’t, then you need to question if they fit the narrative at all.

Make It Relatable

While a lot of the storylines were out-and-out absurd (particularly towards the end), many of the memorable ones were things that happened to all of us. So much of Seinfeld’s success was built on making the situations relatable.

Ripped off at a car dealership? Waited forever for a table? Problem with a rental car? Angry food vendor? Close talker? Quiet talker?

There’s an episode for all of them.

This familiarity breeds longevity and memory of the story that’s been told. We remember the situation they relate to in the show, because we find ourselves in similar situations.

How can you ground the stories in your content in something the audience can relate to? This is the key to them remembering it after you’re done telling them.

PHOTOPranav Bhatt via Flickr