Social media is about valuable communication. Of course, “valuable” is a subjective term, but typically refers to content which educates, engages, or entertains. Great content makes the difference between getting noticed and being ignored.
There are 3 main secrets for great content creation, especially when producing for the social web:
1) Listen to what your visitors want and need. Do you see questions coming up again and again within your area of expertise? If so, this highlights a need your visitors have. This happened a few times recently on Twitter, when a few different people asked for input on various WordPress plugins and techniques. I was able to respond to several of these, which helped me realize more about what kinds of questions people were having with WordPress. It also enabled me to learn something from others who responded to the requester. Great content is in the eye or experience of the user, and most often addresses a question, provides a solution, or moves the person to think differently about their current situation.
The best way to create great content using this principle is to keep track of the questions your clients ask most often, and creating content to meet this need. Another way to use this principle is to pay attention to the media and see what kinds of questions reporters are asking about. You can get reporter queries by using the free (and excellent) service at HelpAReporter.com. By monitoring what journalists are asking for, you know what kinds of questions people have and want answered.
And here’s another benefit: if you track what reporters are looking for, and create content around this, it not only adds to your blog, but it can quickly position you as an expert for future requests. I routinely publish blog posts based on interviews I give, and then use these to create instant credibility to get additional interviews.
2) The second way to create great content is to keep learning. I spend several hours per week taking in new ideas, reading up on new technologies, and improving my knowledge in several key areas. Not only does this keep me inspired (which is crucial to my personal happiness and productivity), but it also helps me speak intelligently about trends and emerging technologies, which boosts my expert status even further. This has been helpful in attracting and retaining clients, as well as helping me get out in front of the media. If you’re not making time each week to take in new ideas, do add this into your business development process. New ideas in means new ideas out.
3) Put parameters around your content production. I first read about this strategy in a book on thinking creatively. Basically, the process involves setting limits around an idea, and coming up with the most creative solution or outcome you can think of. So, for instance, I sometimes try and create the best blog post I can in 3 minutes or less. In this case, time is the limiting parameter. Research has shown that you come up with some of your most interesting ideas when you have two or more parameters in place.
This principle is demonstrated in the very popular “top 10 lists” and other similar content- people have asked a question: “How do I create great graphics for less than $10?”- and the two defining parameters are great graphics + low cost- and then they go searching for resources to meet these criteria. These kinds of lists and resource listings tend to be highly favored and widely repeated.
The whole goal of creating great content is to connect with your ideal market and create dialogue with them. Focus your tools, resources, and energy towards being interested and interesting.
You might just get a whole lot of people talking.