My previous post was just a bookmark, but it tied very neatly into the challenge all my clients face: how to source good, compelling content.
You say you don’t have the time to generate content. The blunt response is: face it, your job just changed. You have to make the time because, as the current meme doing the rounds says, every company is now a media company. So you can very easily set up a Twitter account or a blog or a Facebook page, but then you do need to think of something to say.
I use the analogy of setting up a radio station. Imagine hiring (or constructing!) a building, setting up the studio, organising the huge launch party. Imagine you’ve got the microphone in front of you, and the mixing desk, and you press the big ‘On Air’ button… and then you suddenly realise you don’t actually know what you’re going to say. How mortifying.
It’s precisely those barriers to entry that made people take ‘the media’ seriously, whether print or broadcast. But now they’ve been removed, and you can create a Twitter account or a blog within minutes, for free. So there’s no barrier. So people don’t think it through.
Setting up a social media presence is not heavy lifting. But sourcing content – lots of it, on a daily or weekly basis – is.
So here are some ideas I put in front of people for helping with this.
Create a blog calendar
As a copywriter I fully understand the fear of the blank page. It’s the same with blogging. So the way I get around that is to create a blog calendar. Think of all the events that you might be able to participate in, from exhibitions to seminars, from Father’s Day to Christmas. Then you can see what’s coming up and write about it, before, during and after. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to talk about, because it’s right there in front of you, and you get to ride that news wave too.
Have a comment strategy
You don’t have to write all your own posts. Sometimes it’s better to jump across to what someone else is saying, and comment on theirs instead. They love you for commenting, and you get a link back to your own blog. Instead of just broadcasting, you’re engaging and, in the process, learning too.
Retweet and reply
If you follow people on Twitter, just jump in occasionally and reply to them, or retweet them. Keep that feed going, and in the same action reinforce your willingness to engage online.
You can get an RSS feed from Delicious, so use it. Integrate it with a platform such as Twitterfeed to tweet whenever you bookmark something, or with Delicious’s own blog post feature so that you also post at the end of each day with the aggregation of what you bookmarked.
Or, use Posterous to get the same effect – posting to Delicious, Twitter, your other blogs and so on – and get a free blog to boot.
Set up a dashboard or aggregator
Use Google Reader or Netvibes to see what other people are saying. I guarantee you that, in following people, within seconds you’ll see something that piques your interest, and off you go.
Get the team involved
Don’t make it one person’s sole responsibility for writing blog posts or managing the Twitter account. Set up a rota so that everyone contributes. Build this into the blog calendar, together with your comment rota.
Next thing you know, instead of writing a post a day, you’re writing one a month. And when you’re not writing, you’re commenting, replying or retweeting. In other words, you’re being active and engaged, but with a lot less weight on your shoulders, because you’re sharing the burden.
Invite guests to blog
You have clients, colleagues, maybe even friends. Get them to contribute too. They’ll love the free publicity, you’ll be seen as a part of the community, and an interesting new perspective will be presented. Oh, and you might just strengthen your ties with that client in the process, which can never be a bad thing.
As I said at the beginning, your job just changed. If you want to be back home in time to watch Hollyoaks or whatever, then cut time from somewhere else.
And the bottom line? Set targets. Review them. When you hit them, it’s high fives all round and time to crack open the prosecco.