Good material is not hard to find – with a little thought

 

[Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Just the other day, I was chatting with somebody about Facebook. Or rather, why they’re not on Facebook.

“It’s so content-free,” she said. “Or rather, it’s jam-packed with low-quality content. Nobody’s got anything of interest to say, but they spend all day saying it.” Now in a Facebook context, that’s OK. After all, people spend real face time talking about this and that too. Not all conversations need to have a point, and you can ramble as much as you like if you’re in a personal setting. Admittedly, Facebook rambles go even further, linking to obscure photos, dodgy jokes and can-you-believe-it YouTube videos. Not to mention cyber rants and rallying cries. But on the whole, it’s all harmless. If people want to spend their free time doing that (I don’t, and neither does my friend) then let them. The trouble is that corporates often take the same approach in their written communication. After all, if saying something – anything, in fact – to get your name out there is better than saying nothing, then you should say something. Except you shouldn’t. For three reasons. First, because the wisest course of action is often to stay quiet if you have nothing to say. Content-free content makes you – and the company – look like you’re distracted by every passing fad and have no set course. Second, saying nothing never got anybody into trouble. Saying something that you haven’t really thought through can often land you in hot water. And third, the time you spend shooting the corporate breeze could be better spent on initiatives that are part of the bigger picture, that are well thought-out and carefully planned. So there’s an opportunity cost as well: it’s all the things you could have been doing when you were pushing low-quality content out there. So how do you make sure that what you write keeps ‘em reading? Easy. Make a list of categories, and make sure that every piece falls into one of them. So for example you could have:
  • Product launches
  • New services
  • Service changes/improvements/tweaks
  • You asked/we listened
  • New ideas that you want to run up the flagpole
  • Customer surveys
  • Case studies
  • Tips and tricks
  • Did you know?
  • Trends in the market
  • Round-up of news
  • Thought-leader pieces
And so on. Every piece should be unique (so it’s your perspective), topical (hook it to something that’s happening or coming up) and engaging (always remember the audience). The longer your list of categories, the more stories you can create. Cycle through them regularly, so you don’t overuse any one of them. Revisit the list regularly too, and see if you can’t extend it. Run through each category and see if you can think of two or three items that would fall under each heading. And voilà – in next to no time, you have an ongoing communication strategy that’s varied, detailed and specific. Nothing is ever fired off in haste or desperation, simply to fill a blank space. And you know what? It even works for Facebook company pages too. What’s not to Like?