Your content strategy is broken. Deep down you know it, but you don't know how to fix it. I'm going to show you how to write better content that your target personas will care about, how to position it on social media platforms in a way that will make them want to read your content, and how to compete for attention with not only your competitors, but the entirety of the assembled knowledge of humankind, the Internet.
Step 1 - Get to the deeper meaning
Often when people share content on social media platforms, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, they will summarize the piece of content they're sharing, pull an interesting stat or statement from it, ask a question, or offer some commentary.
All of these are valid approaches, but all too often these posts miss the mark with meaningless jargon or just don't capture the true value of the content. They don't make it sexy. Digital marketing teams miss easy opportunities to write compelling content and position it in interesting ways because they're thinking inside the box they've been given, and they're just grazing the surface.
Here's a great example:
Source: TechCrunch Facebook Page
Farmers in developing countries are using data science to optimize the individual output of their cows, producing more milk with fewer resources, and rather than think about the greater implications of this, like the impact this could have on world hunger, or how it could make farming more feasible in areas where caring for crops and livestock are very difficult, the best someone could come up with was three words of meaningless jargon that don't even accurately summarize the work these data scientists are doing.
You don't have to lie to make the post sexy. You don't have to use clickbait titles. You don't have to take color-coordinated pills from strange men wearing too much leather to get a new perspective.
I'm fairly certain this man isn't a pharmacist.
(Source: Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix)
You just have to think about the deeper meaning behind the text. Think outside of the box of the article. This article doesn't say anything about the implications this work could have on world hunger or farming in harsh environments in developing countries, but if you think outside of the box the content provides you with about how the topic at hand impacts your target audience, or how it impacts the world around you, then you can find a better angle for your post.
Which is more compelling "Cows-to-cloud" or "Data science is changing the face of agriculture in India. See how farmers are using sensors and data to make farming more feasible with fewer resources?" One is meaningless jargon, and the other references a partial solution to one of the biggest problems we'll face as a world-wide community over the next century.
What did we learn? Don't stop at summarizing the content or pulling an interesting stat. Figure out what the deeper meaning behind the content is and talk about that. Think about how the topic at hand impacts the world, and especially how it will impact your audience. Go beyond the text in the article and think outside of the box you've been presented with. And don't take pills from strangers.
Step 2 - Be Your Audience
It's not enough to just know who your personas are or what your audience cares about. You need to put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself "If I were [your persona], would I click this link after I read this?" It's so simple, but also so powerful.
Sun Tzu said it well when he posited "If you know your personas as you know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred blog posts."
Though Abe does advise you to take the veracity of that quote with a grain of salt.
This seems like a no-brainer, but somehow it's not. Plenty of digital marketing teams know who their personas are, what they care about, and what targeting to use to reach them, but too often there's a disconnect between all of this knowledge and which content actually gets produced and how it gets positioned.
This affront goes beyond simple tactics like using the same language as your audience. Somehow this lack of insight even creeps into the core content strategy. Marketing teams know what brand of toothpaste their target audience uses and whether they hang their toilet paper over or under, but when you read the corporate blog none of the content is addressing the problems their target audience is facing, the common questions their prospective customers might have, or offering a compelling differentiation from their competitors that customers will care about.
What did we learn? This is pretty simple to implement. You probably already have the data, you know who your personas are and what they care about. You just aren't using that information effectively. At every step, from developing the idea for a piece of content to posting it to your social media channels, you should just ask yourself "If I were [your persona], would I care about this?" You'll be amazed at how much better your content will be, just by asking one simple question.
Right now you're asking yourself "Will my client/boss/the content team/other internal stakeholder be pleased with this topic and how it's positioned?" You're focused on writing for the wrong people and you're backing yourself into a corner with a content strategy that won't serve your goals. This doesn't mean you can't satisfy both internal and external audiences, but you do need to prioritize. Fight for your audience, for your community. If you don't, nobody else will.
Step 3 - Stop Boring Me
You need to tease out the deeper meaning behind the content you're positioning, and you need to position it (and write it!) in a way that is actually meaningful to your personas, but you also need to remember that you're competing for your audience's attention. Not just with people who are writing about the same topic either, but with all of the knowledge and information the human race has ever produced.
You could be watching cute cat videos on YouTube right now instead of reading this sentence. As I'm not a cat, I'm at a severe disadvantage to compete with them for your attention.
This one is trying to distract me right now. They're very persistent.
This means that I not only have to write content that actually speaks to the problems you face and position it in a way that accurately describes how it relates to the bigger picture so you will care, but I also need to entertain you.
If you can make these 3 concepts core to your content strategy and incorporate them into your tactics, you will write better content and better social media posts about that content.
What did we learn? Your job isn't just to inform or even to solve a problem with your content, your job is also to make your content compelling and interesting enough that people will want to read it, even though they could be doing something else with their very limited time and attention.
Here is your content strategy template - now go forth, be fruitful, and populate the Earth with better content.