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avoid social sharing mistakes

Couldn't sleep last night so decided to flip through Flipboard for awhile. I came across an item from an education consultant in my Linkedin network. Paraphrasing her post here:

I agree with this article COMPLETELY. Teachers REALLY need diversity training. And they need to hire me to do it. 

I followed the link and came to poorly-written ranty post outlining bad behavior the author had witnessed in the teacher's lounge. I was surprised at how rambly the piece was and didn't think it reflected well on the re-poster.

Social Sharing Lesson 1: Whenever possible, don't post links to content that isn't up to the quality you want associated with your brand. Options: 1) Excerpt the most important thought in a blog post or extended status of your own, limiting exposure to the lower-quality content; 2) Acknowledge the quality of the ideas despite the quality of the presentation.

Then I noticed the comments. The original poster has few fans. Commenters accused him of "race-peddling", called out the quality of his writing, and suggested he was creating "fantasies" to sell his and his wife's work. Ouch! I left the post feeling like the author had been discredited, and that my connection had been a bit, too.

Social Sharing Lesson 2: Don't just read the top of the article you and post it. Read it all to be sure there's nothing later that you disagree with. And definitely read the comments--many people do. A resounding pan of the person or the post takes you brand down, too. Guilt by association, etc., etc.

Social sharing is a great way to extend and strengthen your brand, validate your own ideas, build credibility by showing your connections, and enhance trust with careful curation. It's those last two words you need to focus on, though: careful curation.

 

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There’s beon the hunt for microcontenten a lot of talk lately about microcontent, and almost as many definitions of it as there are people fretting over it. Figure I’d wade into the fray.

What is microcontent, anyway?

For my purposes, microcontent is short content designed specifically for easy comsumption by people and search engines. And that is, admittedly, a lot of stuff:

  • Headlines and subheads
  • Cutlines/captions for photos
  • Slide content (including “notes”)
  • Infographics
  • Short listicles
  • Photos and photo titles
  • Product descriptions and personnel bios under 100 words
  • Meta titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Excerpts
  • Social posts

There might even be more, but these are the obvious ones to me.

Looking for microcontentHow can I make more microcontent?

There are probably a bunch of ways to create microcontent. Here are three straightforward and easy-to-implement ones:

1. Integrate microcontent into the content creation process.

  • Strategists/Team Members: When you start planning for content, integrate a discussion about possible content types (micro and otherwise) that make sense for the topic, audience and purpose. Then bake those types into the core assignment.
  • Writers: When we assign articles, we task the writer with developing a set of microcontent, too. That includes the usual “writerly” elements like heads, subheads and cutlines. But we also assign them the meta data, so all that’s done before anything even gets filed. For some clients, we go an additional step and create social posts (at a length specified by the client). We load all the required elements into our template, complete with key words and optimal word and character counts, so it’s a seamless process. We use similar tasking when creating infographics and slide decks.
  • Editors: Editors look at all long-form content with an eye toward smaller “chunks” that can be shared on their own or as a teaser. Those suggestions travel with the article for easy access when it’s time to promote. They also take a look at how each piece of content fits in the ecosystem, identifying related content (and tagging in the client’s CMS if possible) so creating “recommended reading” ideas with similar articles is easier. This is also a great way to create listicles of links on a particular topic—and more microcontent!

2. Generate original microcontent.

It’s always smart to keep your eyes peeled for great one-off microcontent. Maybe you find a perfect image that relates to your business or product and create a robust cutline for posting on social media. Or perhaps you realize you’ve got a treasure trove of data for a fantastic infographic like this one we did for Staples. Make ‘em! But also consider how else you can use that content. A contest for audience members to submit their own photos on the topic with the winners going in a slide deck of their own? Individual data points from that infographic as tweets with a link back to the image? Microcontent is a terrific inspiration for more and longer content, too.

3. Repurpose/reenergize existing or evergreen content.

If you’re going to the trouble of refreshing your evergreen/existing content—and you are, right?—add a microcontent component to the package. You don’t want to mess with the meta title, but you sure can change the H1 and H2s, the meta descriptions and excerpts and the images. Use updated data points to tease the refreshed article on Twitter, or share the new image on Instagram or Facebook with a fresh cutline and link to the article.

Being more deliberate about microcontent doesn’t have to be a drag on your productivity. Build it into existing processes and encourage your team to think up one-off’s, too. So doing allows you to produce more content more easily.

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Want some help creating a microcontent production process for your team? We can show you how.

Just want faster and higher quality content creation in general? We’ve got your back.

We work with companies like Staples and Lionbridge to help them create awesome content. We’d love to work with you. Reach out!

 

 

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A client just asked me to review a news release prepared by an organization to announce my client's membership. It was error-free, but what hung me up was the focus. The release was entirely focused on how great it was for the organization to net a paying member (they even mention how excited they are about my client's financial investment). I don't really care about this organization, so why would I bother to read this if my client didn't ask me to?

A few thoughts on why we continue to see these news release fails and some tips on how you can avoid them:

1. Automation. In an age where news releases are scraped and run anywhere online for free or pennies on the dollar, maybe you don't think you have to worry about writing a good one any more since editors are largely out of this part of the process. When a human isn't in charge of whether your news sees the light of day, who cares, right? Wrong! This approach isn't just lazy;  it sets a standard that you and your organization send out crappy  content and makes it easier for people to ignore the good stuff you do distribute. If you can't send relevant, quality content, don't send at all.

2. Purpose. I'm guessing the purpose of the news release is to crow about the organization's signing up a cool new company. What else can I think when the release buries the lede under a few paragraphs of talk about "our awesome org and how happy we are to have a new paying member." It's all about you, issuing organization. Wrong! A more focused (and honest) purpose for an announcement of this type inspiring or motivating other cool companies to join the organization. That's a purpose that supports operational and financial goals while also enticing new membership. To do that, the focus shouldn't be on the joining, but on the cool company. A lede like this would have served us all so much better: Kick-Ass Cool Co., experts in/makers of awesome stuff, joined XX other innovators as members of  XX. This lede shows readers that lots of cool cos are in this org, not just one new one. It's awesomeness by association.

3. Audience. The audience is most likely other cool cos the organization wants to recruit alongside its existing members, and probably other orgs for a little nanny-nanny-boo-boo. That's the right group, but the boilerplate, self-promotional approach? Wrong! When you write to serve your interests instead of your audience's you risk turning off/boring the very people you need to engage. And very often, you don't serve the search audience, either. A more purpose-driven lede (and release) not only tells the whole story for human readers scanning content, but search engines doing the same.

You can keep using the same old approach and the same old boilerplate announcement template, and you'll get the same old results. Or you can change it up by changing your focus. Put more emphasis on quality content that's relevant to your purpose and to your audience and you'll get better results.

Related Content:

  1. The Content Purpose Audience™ Strategy [DOWNLOAD], the best tool we have for preparing more relevant content to support your organizational objectives and meet audience's needs.
  2. How to Write a Better News Release
  3. How to Plan & Create Content with Purpose

 

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I love Quartz, the online business magazine. Its daily digest is a must-read for me and a terrific way to keep up on global news. I highly recommend it. This weekend's update is one of the best. It features a recap of euro zone issues--admittedly, a somewhat obscure and maybe even hard-to-fathom topic for many of us. But writer Jason Karaian lured me in with a great metaphor that he works skillfully to the end. The post provides a terrific example of making a potentially boring-but-important topic engaging for readers. Check it out:

The euro zone, it’s fair to say, is hardly a happy family. And looming largest are the antics of a single problem child.

Greece has been a euro member for 15 years. As every parent knows, that’s around the time when things get difficult. The innocence of early youth, so full of promise and potential, gives way to sneering and sulking. Rebellious tendencies. Mood swings. Running with the wrong crowd. Wearing inappropriate clothing. Giving people the middle finger.

Greece has blown through its allowance, and then some. In search of more money, it is raising a stink, playing one relative off against the other. But after some bickering amongst themselves, the elders are now more or less united: The kid needs to learn to behave before they dip back into their wallets.

“I literally can’t even,” Greece says, slamming the bedroom door in a huff. “You brought me up this way, man. I’ve already suffered enough. What are you going to do about it? Throw me out?” And this week, for the first time, its European creditors said, “Yeah—we might.”

But therein lies Europe’s dilemma. If it doesn’t get tough on the wayward child, it might set a bad example for others with troublemaking tendencies. But what sort of message would it send to kick Greece out of the house—er, monetary union—altogether? Tough love is one thing, but this is heartless. Cowed and afraid, the bond between family members might never be the same. Some of them might storm off too. And what will the neighbors think?

For all the drama, most still expect the family to patch up its differences and make a deal. But maybe, as in so many households, they just need to grit their teeth and wait for the teenager to grow up.Jason Karaian

Want more? Karaian also wrote this great piece in the style of Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Here's a Grecian urn we have here at The Word Factory:

grecianurn

 

 

 

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Here's a great piece penned by our staff writer, Pete Andersen, for client Lionbridge. Though aimed at a global audience, it's useful for businesses of any size doing business domestically or abroad:

5 Tips: How to Develop a Guest Blogging Strategy

Peter_AndersenAuthored by Peter W. Andersen, Contributing Lionbridge Writer

Having a guest post on your website is a lot like having a guest in your home: each one offers unique potential for an experience that’s enjoyable, memorable, productive and new. Marketing managers (or any team members, really) are always looking for new opportunities for online content marketing, and having guests share their work on your site not only widens your reach, it also adds variety to your blogging strategy.

Click here for some things to remember as you develop a guest blogging strategy.

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