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Creating Compelling Content on Social Media: A How-To Guide


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A how-to guide for creating compelling content on social media.
Social media are content marketing channels, not promotional channels. When you use them simply to promote yourself, your event, your product, etc., you lose reach, audience and engagement. Learn how to get them back, using the power of content marketing.
Based on a talk given to York University's digital team, May 15, 2014.

Published in: Social Media, Technology, Business
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Creating Compelling Content on Social Media: A How-To Guide

  1. 1. Compelling Content YorkU Digital Team: May 15, 2014
  2. 2. “Americans hate social media promotions.” “If your company doesn’t have a social media editorial program that emphasizes spontaneous, personal, human, light-hearted, interesting, funny, timely, and photo-driven content, you are swimming against a powerful tide of customer desire.” americans-hate-social-media-promotions/
  3. 3. An inconvenient truth ● “The more you sell, the less you sell.” - Jay Baer ● The inconvenient truth is that promotional content generally doesn’t work well on social media. ● That can apply to all kinds of promotions on social: o Events o Contests o Surveys o Offers o Materials You name it.
  4. 4. More evidence “There is no point having a social media account if all you’re doing is... pumping out special offers and promotions.”
  5. 5. And it’s not a benign phenomenon ● Content that doesn’t interest your audience actively turns your them off.
  6. 6. So what does work? ● Fascinating content ● Newsworthy content ● Engaging content
  7. 7. Content rules
  8. 8. This isn’t a criticism ● It’s an opportunity. ● This doesn’t mean your goals aren’t important. ● This doesn’t mean you don’t need to promote what you’re doing. ● It means that posting it as-is, just promoting the thing itself on social media, is probably not going to get you where you want to go.
  9. 9. But don’t take my word for it ● We crunched the numbers, and this is what we came up with...
  10. 10. Most engagement: Facebook #1
  11. 11. Most engagement: Facebook #2
  12. 12. Most engagement: Facebook #3
  13. 13. Most engagement: Twitter #1 Look who dropped by his alma mater at #YorkU: Music guru @dankanter, featured in the #yorkumytime campaign!
  14. 14. Most engagement: Twitter #2 Hey #YorkU, say hi if you bump into alumnus and musical master @dankanter, who will be swinging by the Keele street campus today!
  15. 15. Most engagement: Twitter #3: #YorkU has declared a weather emergency and will suspend operations at Keele + Glendon effective 2:30pm:
  16. 16. Instagram
  17. 17. Instagram
  18. 18. Lowest engagement: FB #3: Survey asks #2: Event invites #1: Event promotions
  19. 19. Lowest engagement: Twitter #3: Award announcements #2: Miscellaneous promotions #1: Event promotions
  20. 20. The common element ● Social media aren’t promotional channels. ● They’re content marketing channels. ● They’re a way to engage your audience, not to overtly market to them nor to overtly promote to them. ● People spend time on social to interact: o Primarily with a circle of family & friends o Secondarily with a wider group of acquaintances o Finally, with brands, companies & organizations. ● They’re not there to hear us talk about us. ● And - as we’ve seen - they vote with their clicks.
  21. 21. Inside baseball ● The hazards of inside baseball: the things that we do are likely to be more interesting to us than to our audience. ● Organizations chronically overestimate their audience’s interest in them. ● Doesn’t mean what you do isn’t worthwhile or important. ● It means we need to focus on what will really resonate with our audiences. ● It means traditional promotional approaches don’t work well on channels such as social media.
  22. 22. But wait! ● I still need to promote things! ● Nobody’s denying that. ● But what what we humbly suggest is that you need to promote without being promotional. ● How do you do that?
  23. 23. What works ● Positive, engaging, significant news & stories about the institution. ● Stories that highlight major, cutting-edge innovations & research, especially when the story comes from a mainstream media outlet or an online influencer: third party validation. ● Important, high-profile awards the university wins. (e.g. international awards, awards with "name brand" recognition that the general public has heard of) ● Major student & faculty achievements or awards: the higher-profile, the better. ● Attractive or humorous campus photography. ● Anything that evokes nostalgia for the institution, or which highlights the history of the campus. ● "News you can use" which has a significant impact on everyday student life, and which people can action. ● Significant student success stories. ● Well wishes for holidays, convocation, festivals such as Pride, etc. ● Anything to do with celebrities: celebrity alumni, celebrities appearing on campus, etc.
  24. 24. What typically doesn’t work as well ● Anything strictly academic in tone. ● Faculty-focused content doesn't work very well unless there's a strong human interest story, such as highly-impactful, public-focused research, or an emotional hook. ● Anything institutionally-focused or inward-looking, such as institutional announcements, press releases, and so on. ● Stories about current students and their activities, unless they're achieving or doing something really significant. ● Stories about a given faculty, researcher, student or staff member, unless it's tied to a major innovation or success story. ● Lectures, whether by faculties or guests, unless it's by a highly-recognizable celebrity. ● Strictly promotional content.
  25. 25. The litmus test ● Would this be of interest to someone with no specific connection to York or to your department? ● Would the Globe or Star be interested?
  26. 26. Another option for promotions