Tag Archives: social media content

5 ways to make your content social media friendly

What exactly do we mean by “social media friendly” content? There was a time when people knew of Internet by email. Many people thought that if you were checking email, you were “Interneting”. Yes, they were familiar with the concept of websites, but it was mostly email. The same happens with social media these days. It is so prevalent that many people, people who haven’t used the Internet much before, think that it’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that are Internet rather than millions of websites. This means that social media and social networking websites have grown into a totally separate entity and for the purpose of content marketing ignoring these websites is like ignoring the telephone or the email while trying to do business in the contemporary world.

Just as you need good search engine rankings to promote your content, you also need to optimize your content for social media and this is what you mean by making your content “social media friendly”. Your content is social media friendly when

  • People feel like sharing it on their timelines (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn)
  • They don’t need to modify your headlines and descriptions in order to share your links
  • Sharing your content is just a matter of a couple of clicks

For a very long time I have been thinking of dabbling with infographics. I recently tried to work with a neighbourhood graphic designer but although she is good at using image manipulation tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, she was terribly lacking on the creative side. We were working on a project and I had to tell her practically everything. The only blessing was that whatever I told her she was able to accomplish it.

Anyway, this is the infographic that I have created titled 5 ways to make your content social media friendly. It isn’t much but it’s definitely a beginning.

5 ways to make your content social media friendly

The five ways are:

  1. Create compelling headlines: Your headlines are, as far as optimizing your content for social media goes, are the most important aspects of your content. Compelling in this context means they should invoke strong feelings, so strong that people should be driven to share your content on their timelines.
  2. Publish irresistible content: In my daughter’s social sciences book there is a headline that goes something like this, “one man’s garbage is another’s treasure”. It is about the garbage collectors who make money off the garbage we through away so thoughtlessly. So what is irresistible and what is not depends on individual need, but catering to your niche, create content that is highly useful and valuable. It should solve some purpose and this is why people will share your content. When sharing your content people must feel that they are doing a service to their friends and followers.
  3. Use social buttons: It’s easier to share content when you just have to click a button. I like the way you can share certain portions of blog posts and articles published on Medium. The relevant, share-worthy portions have a Twitter icon nearby. You just need to click the icon to broadcast that particular sentence.
  4. Use social optimization tags:
    These tags normally reside in the header area of your web page. In a typical web page there are already title, description and keywords tags. You can also have dedicated tags for Facebook and Twitter to instruct various social media and social networking channels to automatically pick up customised headings and descriptions rather than using the default ones. If you are using WordPress to manage your website or blog, you can easily get plug-ins to achieve this.
  5. Choose publishing time carefully: You will need some time to figure out during what time of the day your target audience is most active on social media and social networking websites. Publish your content when there is greatest chance of it being noticed and shared.

20 Evergreen Characteristics of Quality Content

Evergreen characteristics of quality content

Quality content with evergreen characteristics isn’t just a phrase to be thrown around in order to sell content writing services, it should carry some substance and a sense of reality. I personally believe that when a client pays me to write content for him or her, he or she assumes (or at least I assume that he or she assumes) that I’m going to give my best shot. What is this the best shot?

The definition may differ from person to person or content writer to content writer. For some, the only thing that matters is the search engine rankings. Some want to be famous on social media websites. Some hard-core salespeople want to write a tightly-knit sales copy. Quality content contains all of these characteristics. A business needs all these things to use content as a highly productive business tool.

Evergreen characteristics of quality content never go out of fashion

Why I call these characteristics evergreen is because they never change, because inherent qualities in people, in behavior, even the nature of sub-atomic entities, remain the same throughout the ages. There is a reason why philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Panini are still read and admired. Their teachings never go out of fashion. The same is true for the evergreen characteristics of quality content. These are the fundamentals. These fundamentals are not just applicable to writing content, they are applicable to every aspect of your life. These are like the gospel truths. The 20 of these evergreen characteristics of quality content are listed below.

1. Quality content is relevant to the target audience

Content written for a particular audience always performs better than content written for pretty much everybody. For example, if on my website I write about all sorts of writing including poetry, fiction, sci-fi, eroticism, horror, and whatever, it will become a portal of sorts. There will be no target audience. For a business it doesn’t work that way. Your content needs to be relevant to a specified audience and only then it can make an impact. Hence, although I talk about writing on this blog, I’m primarily talking about content writing and even here, I’m primarily addressing the concerns of people who may need content for their websites.

2. The writing must be professional

Now what does professional mean?

  • The language should be decent
  • There should be no spelling mistakes
  • There should be no grammatical mistakes
  • Industry-specific language must be used
  • A consistent style guide must be followed
  • The text must be arranged under appropriate headlines and sub-headlines
  • Shorter facts must be arranged in bullets

3. Focus on a single topic

One of the biggest evergreen characteristics of quality content is its level of focus. Are you writing about a single topic or are you trying to handle multiple topics in a single article or blog post? Try to keep your content as focused as possible.

4. It should be written in scannable format

Scannable format means your content should be readable without having to read the entire body text. Even if someone quickly goes through the headlines, sub-headlines and bulleted points, he or she should be able to get the gist of what you’re trying to say. This is not to discourage detailed writing, it just makes sense to make it convenient for those who don’t have enough time to go through the entire thing.

5. Highlight the benefits of the product or service being promoted

Yes, somewhere you have to mention characteristics and features of your product or service, but ultimately what matters is what benefits people are going to derive from your product or service. People are interested in knowing what they are going to get rather than how great your business offering is.

6. Encourage the desired action among your visitors

What should people do once they are on your website? Should they fill up your query form? Should they subscribe to your newsletter? Should they download your ebook or catalog? Should they buy one of the products listed in your online catalog? Whatever you want them to do on your website, you should write your content accordingly.

7. Include valid data and statistics

People always find numbers reassuring. How many people in the previous month have used your product or service? What are the worldwide trends? How are your competitors doing? Among all your customers last month, how many of them saw a marked improvement in the concerned aspect of their lives (in whichever manner your product or service is meant to affect them)? When you mention exact facts, people feel more reassured.

8. Whenever possible, write in the first person

You strike a personal chord when you write in the first person. This is an evergreen characteristic of quality writing writers have been following through ages (or at least since the art of storytelling developed). Personal accounts are always fascinating. “I had this problem and this is how I solved it” always sounds better than “Peter had this problem and this is how he solved it”. Also use “This is the problem that you have and this is how you’re going to solve it” rather than “This is the problem Peter has and this is how he is going to solve it.”

9. Quality content is available in preferred format

Although I’m a content writer and my sole focus is on writing, not everybody is crazy about the written word. Maybe your target audience prefers videos? Pinterest has proved that there is a great demand for images. Some prefer slideshows and some prefer animations. You should know which format of content your audience prefers and then create your content accordingly.

10. Quality content changes perceptions

When you convince people into believing in what you believe in, you are changing perceptions. People come to your website with a certain set of ideas. But when they access your content, when they read it, you change their way of thinking or at least you influence their way of thinking. This is what quality content must achieve. If it is not changing perceptions, people are not going to come to your website and buy your stuff.

11. Encourages people to engage with you and vice-versa

Engaging people in a constructive dialogue is the best way to make an imprint in their minds. People will remember you more if you engage them, if you ask them questions, if you provide them answers and even when you seek answers from them. The ability to engage people gives your content an evergreen characteristic of quality.

12. It’s okay to have a mix of original, curated and aggregated content

Evergreen characteristics of quality content don’t just involve original content. Don’t have enough time to write? You can always curate content. You can routinely aggregate high-quality content from other websites or blogs. But don’t simply copy/paste that content. Even if it is just one paragraph, add your own take on it. In fact there is no use regurgitating quality content that already exists on other websites and blogs.

13. Quality content involves a consistent publishing schedule

Although, frankly, this has less to do with writing and more to do with content marketing but still, the evergreen aspect of your content is more sustainable if you follow a consistent publishing schedule. If for the next five months you are going to publish a blog post every day, then do so. If you feel that on certain days you’re going to be busier compared to the other days, you can schedule publishing in advance, but make sure you publish every day. Similarly, if you want to publish every Wednesday, then make sure that your blog post or article appears on Wednesday. This is because after a while people begin to expect hearing from you, even unconsciously.

14. Write content around a persona

It is very important to know for whom you are writing. It gives you a clear idea of what problems to solve in the present piece of content. Once you know the persona of your reader, you will be able to decide whether

  • You want to use formal or informal language
  • You want to follow a personal or a professional approach
  • You should use industry-specific terms or not
  • You should focus on facts or rhetoric

For example, if you are writing content for a product that caters to teachers and academicians your writing must be flawless, appropriate and must adhere to the proper usage of words and expressions. On the other hand, if you are writing for a product that caters to youngsters you can use the hip-hop expressions used by them, worrying less about the accuracy of language.

15. Storytelling is one of the most prevalent evergreen characteristics of quality writing

Storytelling creates a context and then dramatizes that context so that you can visually imagine it and if possible, apply it to your own circumstances. A story lays bare the problems, tribulations and challenges faced by a person and then how either he or she solves those problems or the problems are solved by your product or service, or something similar. Through storytelling, instead of directly telling people to buy your product or service, you present them with a reason.

16. Keep your content constantly refreshed

Outdated, stale content fails to attract people. Just as it is important to constantly create new content, you also need to keep your existing content fresh. Quality writing also involves rewriting your existing content to bring it at par with contemporary trends and developments.

17. Quality content is search engine optimized

Although quality content is by default search engine optimized, in case the thought hasn’t crossed your mind, don’t ignore this aspect. When you are producing quality content why do you produce it? It is because you want people to benefit from it. How do people benefit from it? They benefit from it by accessing it. A search engine like Google is a great way to find good content. Make sure your content is searchable and written according to Google’s guidelines. It will make it easier for people to make use of your content and you will also get new customers and clients.

18. Quality content is social media optimized

Millions of content updates are shared on social media and social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and YouTube. Do social media users find your content attractive enough to share? Is it possible to share your content on social media and social and networking websites easily? Content that is optimized for social media websites should ideally be topical because people normally share content around a current topic.

Take care of the following in order to make your content social media optimized

  • Keep shorter page or blog post titles so that they can be easily shared on Twitter that allows just 140 characters.
  • When you are writing blog posts, articles and webpages associate a strong visual with it because an image or a photograph has a greater tendency of attracting people compared to just text, and besides, it creates a bigger box when the update appears on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Focus on different formats for different social media channels, for example, you can create attractive and interesting graphics for Pinterest, informative slides for Slideshare and captivating videos for YouTube. The more social media channels you target, the more choice you will give to the social media users to share your content. Just make sure you don’t dilute your effort and end up with no advantage over the particular social media channel.

19. Entertainment is an evergreen characteristic of quality content that never loses its value

People always love to be entertained. But what is entertainment? An avid reader may find reading Nabokov or Camus entertaining. Some find popular soap operas on television entertaining. Kids love to hear stories from their elders. Not only funny articles and essays are entertaining. Try to find out what would be entertaining to your audience and create your content accordingly. You don’t always have to entertain, but whenever you can, do that.

20. Show your love and consideration for causes

Your business doesn’t exist in isolation. It will always function within the circumstantial parameters of the world around you or even across the globe since we are all connected these days. When you associate your content with the cause whether it is about saving the environment or the polar bears or fighting for the education and health of the underprivileged, people will appreciate it. Get involved with the causes and then write about them. Or simply create content to raise awareness about your favorite causes.

Please keep in mind that what I have listed above are the “evergreen characteristics” of quality content, I haven’t written about creating evergreen quality content, that would be a totally different topic.

What trends to follow in 2015 while posting content on social media

We are all on one or another social media or social networking platform, right? You must be spending considerable time sifting through updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and if not, maybe content creation apps like Flipboard. Social has become a part of life. It is no longer a fad. From grannies to toddlers, everybody these days has one or another social media account.

Where there are people there is business, whether one likes it or not. It is not just about businesses, even people running the social media websites need to make a buck. Normal people using Facebook aren’t going to pay Facebook unless they are really desperate to use it. The same goes with Twitter. With LinkedIn, of course things are different because anyway it is a business networking platform so people don’t mind paying it to use some of its features. But the other social networking platforms need to depend on businesses to make money even just to sustain the platforms.

There are two ways you can promote your business on social media: (1) advertising and (2) posting content and interacting with your followers and connections.

Although you may have your own preferences when you create and post content for social media and social networking websites, this Content Standard blog post lists three trends to follow in 2015 that can bring you success. These are

  1. Use more of the platform you’re already using: This perfectly makes sense. You must have spent lots of time creating your presence on a particular social media or social networking platform so why not use it instead of starting on with something new? Besides, the social networking platforms are constantly introducing new features that you can use to promote yourself and your content. For example, on LinkedIn you can create articles and blog posts exclusively for the platform to showcase your expertise.
  2. Create your own network of influential people: No, it is not something like starting a new version of Facebook or LinkedIn. What it means is, be proactive and establish contacts with influential people in your field. For example, if I provide content writing and content marketing services, in order to promote my content, I should establish contact with people who are already doing great in this field and have gathered a massive following. Even if once one of them decides to promote one of my blog posts, it can bring me lots of exposure.
  3. Start making money with your content: Well, some of us have already been making money with our content, if not by directly selling that content, then definitely by expanding our presence.

What to take care of while posting content on Facebook and Twitter

Social networking content marketing

As a business marketer do you take special care when posting content on social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn? In my case I’m not very particular about Twitter because there I exchange all sorts of views including content writing and content marketing, politics, religion, literature, philosophy, and pretty much everything I find amusing, interesting and worth sharing. If you want to follow me on Twitter for a particular reason, I’m afraid you’re not going to get it. These days I am mostly followed by either those who somehow discover that I post lots of stuff on content marketing and content writing, or the Indian right-wingers because of my political leanings.

On Facebook, on my personal profile I rarely post content marketing-related content. It’s mostly personal, political, social or religious and yes, literary.

On LinkedIn it’s strictly business. I use my LinkedIn profile to promote my blog posts, articles and other content writing and content marketing related webpages. I’m happy that, due to this, I have got some nice assignments from my LinkedIn connections.

Google+ is a mix of business as well as business-related interesting stuff. I don’t share my political opinions on Google+.

On Twitter I have a separate profile to handle my business content, though. Even on Facebook I have created a dedicated page to promote my content writing and content marketing services. But unlike my blog, I’m not very regular with my business profiles on Facebook and Twitter, although, I must dedicate some time to it.

Jeff Bullas in his recent blog post rightly says that not all social media networks are equal. He says:

Social media is a great way to attract that attention. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw your link out there and people will come flocking. If you want your content to succeed on the major social media networks, you must consider who you are sharing it with. Then, you can write the perfect copy and produce the best content and optimize it for each social network to lure them in.

He also explains, comprehensively, what sort of content is appropriate for which social network and which sort of content elicits the most vibrant response.

How do I write content for my clients for their social media and social networking platforms?

Yes, I do take up assignments for writing content for my clients for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Tumblr. How do I decide what to write?

Just as Jeff has explained, I choose different content for different social networking profiles. I also carry out a study of their connection profiles. For LinkedIn you can be sure that only professionals are going to exchange information but a platform like Facebook can be capricious. You can find professionals as well as colleagues and relatives. For instance, in the fag end of the previous year I got a very plum assignment from one of my Facebook friends. Even before that I got 3-4 good project from Facebook. So it also depends on what sort of people you follow and what sort of people follow you.

Fortunately, all the clients who have approached me are not as casual about their social networking platforms as I am with my Twitter profile. They normally post very focused content and this is what they want when they hire me. I carefully go through the content they have posted so far, and the content their followers and friends have shared, the nature of the content that elicits greater response (Likes, Shares, Plusses, Retweets and Favorites) and the frequency with which their users and friends use the platforms. Accordingly I formulate their social media content strategy.

Whereas I have got work from Facebook and LinkedIn, surprisingly, Twitter, where I am the most active, I have never gotten work from.

My understanding of social media marketing

It has become a cliché I know, “social media marketing” but then every trend sooner or later, as more and more people begin to adopt it and begin to claim themselves as experts in, becomes a cliché.

As it often happens with me my entry into the world of social media has been a bit lackluster. I have been interacting on Facebook and Twitter and have also been providing consulting services to some of my regular clients but when it comes to my own presence on social media I haven’t been very particular. Actually, the same thing happened with my blog too. When I was helping other people promote their blogs I was totally neglecting my own blog. Anyway, this post is about my understanding of social media marketing.

Social media marketing

What exactly is social media marketing? Does it merely mean creating profiles on various social media and networking websites and posting content, and on and off interacting with your friends and followers? This is not marketing, this is simple networking and communication and your mom must already be doing this among her circle of old friends and relatives.

Marketing is a bad word, I know but it is a necessary evil, if you want to call it so. Out of the negative shade it is an activity that makes people aware of the services and products you offer.

Conventional marketing is mostly one-way: you create advertisements for television, newspapers, magazines, and even on the Internet (remember banner and link ads?). You can even publish pamphlets and fliers and get them distributed or mailed. After being exposed to your advertisement people may or may not respond. It depends on how well the advertisement has been created and what is the demand for your product or service.

Social media marketing on the other hand creates ripe ground for marketing. And it’s not just marketing in its pure sense. You may like to call it brand awareness. You don’t necessarily call it marketing because on social media and networking websites people are not very big fans of marketing and business promotion. It happens but it happens in the form of communication. Social media marketing in its true essence means

  • You remain active
  • You keep interacting with your friends and followers
  • You keep them engaged
  • You inform them
  • You educate them and seek advice
  • You let it be known through your fan or profile page what you do for a living and what sort of business to promote
  • You encourage discussions around your product or service, unobtrusively
  • You constantly measure response and take further steps accordingly
  • You reach out to new people and make old people feel valued
  • So on and so forth

You cannot simply put a page there and expect people to start doing business with you. You need to establish a long-term relationship with them. You have to show them that you are interested in them, that you are concerned about their welfare, that it matters to you how they think and what they think, you are there to help within your means, and in between, if they need something and you happen to be selling it, suggest that they can get it from you.

Benefits of social media marketing

There are many benefits of engaging your present and prospective customers/clients on social media and networking websites.

  • You create relationships instead of customers and clients
  • You actually interact with people as an individual
  • The communication is more focused and targeted
  • It is an ongoing process so there is greater brand awareness
  • People become more familiar with your presence and may even respond better to your conventional advertising campaigns
  • You can develop a stand-alone platform to launch products and services
  • You can obtain instant feedback and react accordingly
  • If there is a public-relations problem you have a ready-made communication tool with you through which you can reach hundreds of thousands of eager listeners instantly
  • You can educate people with real-time interaction
  • You can analyze the metrics of conversion with greater and more predictable accuracy
  • You can show your human side to your customers and clients
  • You can strike up new, amazing friendships
  • You can get new product ideas by carefully listening to your social media audience

There can be many more benefits but these are the immediate once that come to my mind.

So should your organization invest in social media? Again, “invest” sounds a bit mercantile but what I mean is investment in terms of effort and money. Of course as a busy person you wouldn’t like to update your Facebook and Twitter accounts multiple times a day and beside you need to be very careful about what activities to indulge in through your social media presence, especially if you are representing your business. You have to define guidelines and you have to strategise your activities. Although social media marketing is an ongoing activity you have to move towards long-term and short-term objectives. Your every single posting and interaction must take you one step forward towards those objectives.

For this, you need help. You will need professional help: people who know the inns and outs of social media and who can take positive decisions for you. This is where investment comes in because you will have to pay them for their time. Social media is fun only as long as you’re doing it for yourself; if you want to do it for others you expect decent compensation because it is a serious job. The person, after all, represents your business. Everything he or she says reflects upon you (your business); hence, it requires lots of maturity, experience and tact to interact with your followers and friends on social media on your behalf. I will be writing more about this in my forthcoming blog posts.