On Content and Community…

Last week I spoke at the Festival of Marketing, at Tobacco Dock in London.

My talk was supposed to be based around how to create shareable content, but I felt that giving tips and hints about how to make content fly without emphasising the importance of having a community to share it with was futile. So my talk was about the partnership of content and community and how to make them work together for optimum results.

The deck is embedded above, I’m going to endeavour to write a post explaining some of the key points that I made:

Way back in the beginning of social, people were obsessed with listening and building community. Community managers were all the rage. Fast forward a few years and content marketing is all the rage, people are hiring content marketers and content strategists all over – and many people seem to have forgotten all about the community.

What I wanted to discuss was how both are important components in getting your voice heard, and one needs the other.

So your first step to creating good quality (because lets face it, you probably don’t want it shared for the wrong reasons) shareable content is realising that it’s not all about you.

Although it seems obvious that you need to create content that is both useful for you and your community, it bears repeating as so many people continue to create content that is just thinly veiled brand messaging. Heads up guys, the new Facebook changes coming in January are going to put pay to this!

Social media levelled the playing field, there (now) has to be something in it for everyone, or it doesn’t work for anyone.

It’s been my experience (and the internet seems to agree) that people will share content for one of four main reasons.

Useful. It’s literally of use. It’s information that will help them out in life. Met Office and Environment agency warnings, when daylight savings ends, warnings – that kind of thing. OR followers can gain something from sharing this content, whether this is by winning a competition, or being the first to share information in their circle. Charity also fits in this category, although it’s hard to argue that the Ice Bucket Challenge was useful, I’m guessing the $115 million is raised came in pretty handy.

Funny – According to last years Ipsos global social study 43% of people globally would share content because they found it funny. A look at most of the viral content of the last few years will show a similar trend.

Cute –  given the current state of the world people are often on the look out for something adorable to brighten their day. Just remember to make sure this fits with your brand, remember the White House Success Kid Meme?

Interesting –  People will share things they didn’t know that will make them look more interesting, this was the top result in the ipsos study. I also include content that re-inforces who they are in this category.

You don’t need a massive team to create amazing, shareable content. One person can do it alone, but it’s always helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off before you share them with the whole world.

If you can afford it, use a designer. If you can’t, use Canva.  The most valuable thing you’re going to use in your quest to create great content is data. What has worked for you before? Are there themes? What has worked for your competitors ?

There’s a list of things to ‘think about before you create’ in the deck:

This is the part where you arm yourself with all the historical data you can find, social media reports from the last few months are a great place to start. Union Metrics is great for Tumblr/Instagram  – I’m a big advocate of Sprout Social for Twitter and Facebook. Social Bro allows you to drill down and create audience segmentation to target your posts with Twitter.

Although there are certain trends that can apply to whole industries and countries, data is always the most useful when it’s bespoke to your community.

Important. When it comes to ‘best time to share’ make sure you continually measure this! I’ve found personally that this changes season to season and definitely around the holidays. If you don’t have the time to do this, leave it up to a bespoke tool like the Sprout Queue, Tweriod & Buffer or SocialFlow.

I found that when I talked about considering how colour will work with your content, people paid attention. (Most of the tweets were about this) 40% of people from across the globe when surveyed picked blue as a favourite colour.

There are loads of psychological reasons for using certain colours and avoiding others. For instance, apparently women hate orange, everyone likes green second best after blue. And colour varies channel to channel, on Pinterest red and orange based pins are shared twice as frequently as blue ones, whereas the opposite is true of Instagram. I didn’t recommend that this is the only thing that you base your content on, but it’s worth thinking about when you’re looking at previous posts. Have any particular colours stood out in terms of engagement?

I went on talk about how understanding the technicalities is paramount.

This is where a community manager is worth their weight in gold.  There are rules to Facebook. If you want to create a sponsored post there can’t be more than 20% text. Worth bearing in mind if you’re looking to boost the post at a later date. Is this a campaign? Are you in danger of spamming your community? Would this be better as a dark post?

What is the optimum size for sharing on Twitter if most of your users are accessing via iPhone? At GDS we learned that most of our users were accessing via phone so instead of creating lengthy infographics, we shared our content in bite sized chunks that were easy to view on the preferred platform.

Is it worthwhile installing Twitter cards on your site or blog ? (tip -the answer is ALWAYS YES) if you’re hosting on WordPress you can use JMCards plugin to install  cards across the whole site. Don’t forget Twitter cards save you valuable characters (if you’re using the summary card you get 200 extra characters to play with) and allow you to credit the content creator within the card.

I covered off some things you should consider before you share

Again this is where having a good community manager is really helpful.

Posting consistently is key for good social media engagement, but that doesn’t mean you have to post every single day. Social is an overpopulated place with brands vying for consumer eyes. People are suffering from content fatigue, you don’t want to be unliked/muted/unfollowed for over posting, so do some research – ask your community. Where are they based, is it worth tweeting at different times of the day to hit different timezones. Are you going to do an ICYMI round up at the end of the week?

It sounds horribly douchey, but asking for RTs actually works (although you’ll probably want to keep this to a minimum) .The best performing tweets are under 100 characters.

When trying to determine the risk factor, imagine you’re the worst troll there is or that you work for the Daily Mail. What would YOU do with this content? You want your content to fly for the right reasons – not ALL publicity is good publicity.

Think about the status update that you’re posting alongside the content/copy that is being displayed. Are they repeating each other? Can you use those characters more wisely?

When it comes to measuring, make sure you’re setting KPIs that match your objectives. Also, no-one was ever annoyed that they measured too many things. All information can be helpful!

At the end of my talk I ran through some examples of what had worked well for GOV.UK,

I talked about how working in government requires you to ‘de-brand’ as you’re not selling, you’re not political, you can’t have opinions and your subject matter is usually somewhere between dull and depressing, People don’t want to interact with the government, they have to. At GOV.UK we didn’t own the services, once built they were owned by the department. Oh and the entire country is your target user.

This made it very challenging  to come up with interesting content to share.

Whenever we needed to guarantee our RTs we would use Thunderclap – the saviour of charities and the civil service!

If you reach your supporter goal Thunderclap will send the same tweet/Facebook message/Tumblr post at the same time, hopefully getting the topic trending, but usually  causing some interest in your cause. We most recently utilised Thunderclap in the fight against scam websites. It wasn’t the most dynamic subject matter so we chose to just keep it as simple as we could.

That was about it. Sorry if it read strangely, I didn’t think publishing a deck without notes would be very helpful to anyone.

Anything to add ?