What makes content dance?
Whether it's a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or a corporate Blog, I'm often asked for my thoughts and perspective on not just the design and usability, but the quality of the content. And - much like this season's judges on American Idol - I find myself towing the line to find only the good in what is being done. As you'll note, I have thin skin. I don't deal well with criticism and this makes it very difficult to criticize others. So, I'd make a terrible judge on American Idol and I tend to be light on content criticism. Back when I was a music journalist, I'd actually not review albums that I didn't like. You know the old saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I have no problem being critical internally of the work we produce at Twist Image (only the best for our clients), but I tend to shy away from criticism when I'm asked on a more ad hoc basis about the content that an organization is publishing in the Social Media channels.
In most instances, when a brand is not getting the traction, attention, or getting their content shared as much as expected, the diagnosis is obvious to everyone but the brand itself. The content is not resonating because it actually looks less like authentic content and much more like Marketing blather that is thinly veiled as content.
If your content can't be objective and the ultimate goal of publishing it is to get people to buy from you, that will be the way in which it will be consumed. The brands that are seeing their content get shared and recommended are publishing content that looks and acts a lot more like the content you would find in other online publications (or something you might read in a magazine or a newspaper).
Shy away from advertorial content.
It's hard to do this. Your boss is reading the content and wants to ensure that the brand integrity stays in tact. The entire reason you were given the latitude to publish anything was because there was a promise that content is critical to success in Social Media, but that it should always be in the best interest of the brand. It's hard to create great content. It's hard to create objective content. It's also hard to create content that must be skewed or manipulated in a way that ultimately promotes your brand in the marketplace. The masters of it (those that toil in the branded content arena) understand how to do this in a more balanced fashion.
The brands that work.
There are many brands who understand this. Some of the ways in which their content "wins" is by focusing less on the products or services that they sell and much more on the industry they serve and why it matters to their constituents. Producing objective content isn't easy. The other reason for this is because Marketers have a hard time thinking like a Publisher (or a Journalist). They often don't have the passion or care that a Journalist or Publisher brings to content creation, and the content winds up being created much in the same spirit as their other Marketing materials. Be cautious. Great content is honest, real, objective and adds much more value to the person reading it than the person who wrote/published it.
Think about your content. Is it objective or simply thinly veiled Marketing blather?