Posts Tagged ‘content’

Everyone Is An Expert. Use Them For Content.

Creating content isn’t an easy job. Believe me, I know because it’s a big part of my role here at Sysomos. Luckily, I don’t have to do it all by myself because I’m surrounded by a ton of smart people both inside and outside our company and make sure I use their smarts whenever possible.

I’m not alone in this content creation situation. Everyone knows just how important it is to have great content, especially in the online world, these days. But don’t worry, no matter what size your company is, you’re not alone either.

Here are a few ways that you can enlist others’ help in creating content for your brand:

Ask the amazing people you work with

I’m lucky to work with a ton of really smart and creative people. From our product group that help to make Sysomos software great or our account team who help to make sure our clients have the best experience possible with us. They’re all very smart and all have their own areas of expertise in their fields that can benefit our clients and customers. That’s why I it make a consistent practice to call upon their help in content creation.

Whether you send out a company wide email or you make a posting looking for some assistance on your company intranet, there’s a good chance people in your company will be more than willing to help. People like to help, especially if they get some sort of recognition for it or will benefit from it. The problem is most people in marketing or communications don’t go outside of their departments for help, but you’d be surprised what you’ll find when you do.

help-me-help-you

 

Find customers/superfans and ask them to contribute

You know who else loves to help when they can? Your customers and superfans.

These are going to be the people who use and love your product. They’re probably doing amazing things with it and have perspectives that are different than yours. Even just talking to some of these people will give you new and great ideas for content or, at least, how you can shape some of your future content.

Sometimes, your customers or superfans may even want to get in on the content creation process. This could be in the form of a case study (highlighting how they are using your product/service) to a testimonial (singing your praise) to something else that’s completely different. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new ideas from others, you might get amazing results from it.

For example, we love when clients do cool and interesting things with our Sysomos software. It gives us a chance to highlight interesting ways people are using our software, plus they help us to create the content to highlight it. One of my favorite examples in the time I’ve been here was a few Christmases ago when Canadian Tire and their agency used Sysomos to light up a Christmas Tree based on holiday cheer being spread through social media. This was a great way for them to get extra exposure for their project, it gave us something cool to write about and it was something interesting that we wouldn’t have thought to do on our own.

Canadian Tire's Christmas Tree - Powered by Sysomos

Knowing who your customers are to hit up for some help in creating content is easy (and if you don’t know, again, ask around your company and people will know). But what about finding your superfans? If you don’t already know who they are, you can use a social intelligence tool, like Sysomos, to search them out. You can do a search for your brand or product name in a tool like Sysomos MAP and then look up who are the people that mention it the most. Like this example below, we did a quick search and were able to determine the people that mention they love their Fitbits a lot on Twitter which means they are likely superfans who may want to help the brand if they contacted them.

Sysomos MAP - People who mention they  "love fitbit"

Can’t write? No problem. There’s other ways these people can help.

Once you’ve determined some people to enlist in your quest for creating more content, you’re bound to hear the common response, “I’m not a good writer” at least a few times. But don’t let that discourage you. Writing is only part of the content creation process. There’s a lot of ways these “non-writers” can still help.

scott-pilgrim-its-hard

A lot of people think that they can’t write, but they’d be surprised what happens when they actually try. Give them a little bit of encouragement to try and, as a writer yourself, offer to help them fix it up once they’ve put together a first draft.

If they’re really against writing, don’t worry, there’s a ton of other ways you could work with these people to get them to help you produce content. Here’s just a few examples:

  • Make a video of them talking about a topic (a lot of people find it easier to talk about something than to write about it)
  • Do a Q&A session (either written, transcribed or on video)
  • Ask your customers what their biggest questions are and create content that answers those questions
  • Get someone to tell you about a process and then transcribe that process into an easy to follow infographic
  • Do a picture heavy editorial and ask people to submit their own photos around an event or topic
  • Ask them to tell you a story and then transcribe it or record it and turn it into a visually appealing video
  • Get them to create a bulleted list (this helps them get away from thinking they need to write out proper paragraphs of points)
  • Make an audio recording that an be easily shared

That list could go on and on, but we think you get the point of how many different ways there are for these “non-writers” to still help you create great content.

Now stop worrying about all that content you thought you had to create on your own and go out there and enlist some help. Everyone’s an expert on something. Use their expertise.

Reusing and Repurposing Content: How And When To Best Do It

Reuse and Repurpose Your ContentThe really great thing about really great content is that it’s timeless. This means that if you have produced a well performed piece of content, be it a blog post, a video, an infographic, or anything else, just sharing it once means you’re not sharing it nearly enough.

Great content that has a long shelf life should be, and needs to be, shared more often so that you’re not missing out on connecting it to the people that want or need it and missed it the first time around. But how do you know what content should be shared again? And once you know that, how do you go about doing it? We have a couple pieces of advice for you on this today (or any day if you’re reading this when we’ve reshared it).

The process is actually quite simple and shouldn’t take you long at all do. It’s a simple three step process of:

 

  1. Figuring out the best content to repurpose or reshare
  2. Find the best way(s) to reuse that content
  3. Find the best times to put that content back out into the world

Determine what content should be used over and over again

The first step when it comes to repurposing and reusing content is to determine which content is worthy. There’s several ways that you can do this. Of course, our favorite way comes from using social intelligence to determine what content your audience loved or what old content would be relevant for them again today.

Let’s start first with determining what content your audience loved the most. If you’re doing content right, you should have analytics around all of your content that you can go back and look at. If your content is a blog post, take a look at your Google Analytics (or whichever web analytics provider you use) and determine which post saw the most overall traffic. If your content is a video, you can also see this information directly from YouTube, Vimeo or any other video site you uploaded the content to. All your content should have some analytics attached to it so you could see how it performed. Seeing which content attracted the most eyeballs should give you a pretty good idea of which content pieces seem to be most interesting to your audience and even though they have the most views, there’s still a good chance that not everyone you’d have like to have seen it did. This means that this content is ripe for getting reshared with your audience.

Another way to determine which content of yours was most popular would be to use a tool, like our Sysomos software, to figure out what content was most popular in the social space. One way to go about doing this is to look back at which of your tweets linking to your content was shared most. Using a tool like Sysomos MAP and heading over to our our Most Retweeted section we can help to identify which tweets were passed along the most, which likely means that people liked them so much they were interested in sharing them with their networks. For example, @Pillsbury shares a lot of yummy recipes that you can make with their products. By doing a search for tweets with “recipe” we can determine which were the most popular ones in the past six months (or in whatever timeline you’d like to search in). If these recipes went over well the first time around, they’re likely to do the same if they get reshared again.

Sysomos MAP - @Pillsbury's most retweeted tweets about recipes

Figure out the best way to repurpose or re-share your content

Now that you’ve determined your content that’s worth putting out there again, it’s time to figure out how to best go about doing this.

In the example with @Pillsbury above, they could likely send out the exact same tweets again and get a great response on their second time around. In a lot of cases, you could probably do this as well. But what about if you could use that same content in a way that makes it look fresh and new?

If you already know your audience and how they like to recieve content from you, figuring out a way to repurpose it for them should be easy (and if you don’t know these things, see our blog post on how to use social intelligence to design content your audience wants). Here’s some examples of how you can repurpose old content:

  • If your audience also likes YouTube, take a popular blog post and find a way to change it into an entertaining video that can be easily watched and shared
  • If your audience is of a business nature, take that blog post of tips you made and make them into a presentation that you can share on SlideShare in an easy to digest format that can be easily shared or embedded in other places
  • You can even repurpose content in the same format, but just in a new package. Take your company’s YouTube videos and then find the best 6 second soundbites reshare those on Vine (or make them into 15 second clips and use them on Instagram)

(Note: that last idea was curtesy of @jj_stockwell during an #SMmeasure chat a few weeks back. Thanks Jason!)

If you consider yourself creative in anyway, the number of ways that you can change old content to make it look new and fresh again will be limitless. 

Know when the best times to reuse all that content is

Now that we have all this content that we’re ready to put back out into the world, we need to figure out when the best time to do so is. In some cases, anytime might be a good time. For example, since this post isn’t associated with anything specifically timed to today, we could (and likely will) reshare this post whenever we feel like it. The content is timeless, so anytime we can get it in front of new eyeballs is likely a good time.

However, not all content is like this. Some content will do better at certain times or when they can be associated with other timely events. For example, one of @Pillsbury’s tweets we showed above was for a basketball themed recipe and was shared during March Madness. Well, just a few months after March Madness we found ourselves in the middle of the NBA Finals, which would be a great time to reshare that basketball themed recipe.

Things that gain the attention of a large section of the population aren’t just good times to bring up that old content. It’s also important to remember to focus on things that are timely and specific to just your audience. Keep an eye on what your top community members or influencers are talking about in the present, which is very easy to do if you have them in a Sysomos media set. Do you have a piece of content that speaks to something they’re currently interested in? This would be the perfect time to repurpose or re-share it. For example. in a media set we have built around TV critics, we saw from our Buzzgraph that they seem to be talking a lot about the season finale of Game of Thrones in the past 7 days. If we were in the entertainment business, we could take this a cue that people interested in entertainment and TV are also likely talking about this and now would be a great time to reuse some of our Game of Thrones content that we already have ready as the topic is hot at the moment.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Buzzgraph of what TV critics have been talking about in the past week

Good content is always going to be good content and there will usually be a time and place when you can use it again. So, instead of constantly straining to keep coming up with fresh new content, don’t forget to think about all the ways that you can reuse and repurpose all of that great content you already have.

If you want to learn more about how social intelligence can help guide you on how and when to reuse your content, reach out to us and request a demo of Sysomos.

Use Social Intelligence To Design Content Your Audience Wants

Content production and content marketing is key in today’s ‘attention economy’. There’s a reason that you keep hearing the phrase “content is king.” People are addicted to content, whether its writing, pictures, videos or more, people love sharing content, so it’s imperative to produce amazing pieces that resonate with your audience.

Companies need to almost be media companies these days in that they need to constantly be producing content from commercials to blog posts, photography to tweets, online videos to magazine ads and everything in between. But with so much content that needs to be produced, how do you know what’s going to work best?

The secret to creating great content that your audience is going to eat up is getting to really know them. And social intelligence is a great way to go about learning about your audience and what they want.

Discover how they like their content

We mentioned a lot of different kinds of content that people can be producing these days, but the truth is, you don’t have to be doing ALL of them. In fact, depending on your audience, you probably even shouldn’t be doing it all. What you should be doing is learning about which content is going to do the best job of bringing in your audience. This is a twofold process.

First, you want to start searching for your brand name or topics around your industry to discover where people are talking. You may find that these things are being talked about on just one social network or several. Whichever the case, the places where your brand or topics around it are being mentioned are the places you’re going to want to start exploring.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Activity Summary of Social Channels

Sysomos Heartbeat - Activity Summary of Social Channels Minus Twitter (digging deeper into other channels)

Second, when you’ve determined where the conversation is already happening it’s time to learn about HOW they’re happening. Each social network works differently and different topics do better in different forms on each of those networks. For example, you might find that on Twitter a lot of people are sharing pictures that relate to your brand, while on Facebook videos are much more popular. Doing research on what kind of content does well and where it does well will help you to determine what kind of content to create and the best places to use it.

Find what they’re interested in

Once you’ve determined what kind of content you should create, the next step is to actually start creating it. This is where things get a little more tricky, because you need to really figure out what content is going to resonate best with your audience. But it doesn’t have to be when social intelligence is on your side.

It’s a good assumption to start by believing that your audience has some kind of interest in your brand already. Now how can you figure what else they like so that you can tie it back to your brand? Again, the answer is with some research, and text analytics are always a great tool when trying to figure out what people are interested in.

Twitter is a great place to start because a lot of people will tell you right in their bio what they’re in to. Our Sysomos software has a great tool that will actually let you see a word cloud of your followers’ bios. By looking at something like this you can pick out themes that seem to stand out, meaning that a large population of your audience are likely also interested in and talking about the larger words in the word cloud. Below is a word cloud for @redbull‘s Twitter followers. We can see that some words that stand out in the word cloud include “sports,” “music” and “Instagram.” All of these things (plus more) are definitely subjects that Red Bull focuses a lot of their content on, and it makes sense, because we now know for sure it’s what their audience likes.

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud of @redbull's Twitter Followers' Bios

But since Twitter isn’t the only place your audience might be, it important to explore other channels and see what people are talking about there. Just noticing what people are talking about around your industry can give you great ideas for what themes you should be focusing your content on. As an example, we pulled a buzzgraph to see what people were talking about around HBO on blogs over the past few weeks. No real surprise here, but we found that Game of Thrones has been a big topic around the company recently, so it makes sense that HBO is creating a lot of content around the show currently.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Buzzgraph of Talk Around HBO on Blogs

Using text analytics every few weeks across the channels that your audiences are most active in will give you a good idea of where their thoughts and interests are heading and you can constantly adjust your content to fit in with your audience every time you do this.

Create things that help

One other thing that we can recommend is to create content that helps your audience. People always appreciate content that helps them in some way or another. It doesn’t matter if you’re a software or a food company, you can always make something that helps or teaches your audience. The best part is that this type of content will usually keep your audience happy, satisfied with your brand and coming back for more.

As a software company ourselves, it’s very easy for us to produce helpful content. In fact, we have an entire portal within our Sysomos system (which is a place we know our audience is very active) dedicated to content around how people can understand and use our software better. Inside the portal we have a collection of both articles and videos (which are the two mediums we found our customers find easiest to consume) that help them to do their jobs better. We used our own software to determine what issues our customers were trying to solve with our software and then started to create content that is going to answer those questions for them.

Sysomos Support Portal

But not every company is a software company that can produce how-to content. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t be helpful to your audience. A great example of a brand creating content to help their audience is Chobani Greek Yogurt on their Pinterest page. No one really needs a how-to document on eating yogurt or an infographic on how to choose the flavor that’s right for you, but there’s more that people can do with yogurt outside of just eating it on it’s own.

That’s why on Chobani’s Pinterest page you can find a ton of recipes of other dishes that can be made using their yogurt. The company learned that their customers liked to cook and that people go to Pinterest to find recipes, so they made a place where they are able to help people create all kinds of fantastic dishes that incorporate their product. They’re helping their audience to be better all-around cooks and made sure that their brand was inserted into it. Content like this is very helpful to people and had a natural fit for their product. Start thinking about all the ways your  brand can help people.

Chobani's Pinterest Page of Recipes

All of these things above are ways that you can create content that is going to resonate with your audience. All it takes to get going is using a little bit of social intelligence to learn more about your audience and then creating the content that is going to work best with what you’ve found from your research.

Learn what your audience really wants from your content with Sysomos. Contact us to learn how.

Best of 2014: John Oliver Gets Spreading Information In The Social Age

A little over a month ago we set out to write a blog post about the popularity of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. However, along the way, we learned that John Oliver and his team are really masters of content in a social media world.

The team at Last Week Tonight has managed to get long form content shared more than almost any outlet we’ve ever seen and it showed us that content can come in many forms and lengths, but the key to getting it shared is really what’s inside the content.

Check out the lesson we learned from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that quickly became one of our staff favourites of the year.

This post was first published on November 11, 2014:
Last Week Tonight with John OliverYou can debate back and forth for days on whether Last Week Tonight is a news program or a comedy and entertainment show… or even both. But one thing you can’t debate is that John Oliver has been instrumental in opening the eyes of his viewers to subjects that they should probably know more about.

And when we say viewers, we don’t just mean the people who watch his show live on HBO, we mean everyone that has seen the numerous clips from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight since it debuted at the end of April this year.

Yes, the show we’re talking about is an HBO program, which means that viewers need to subscribe to HBO through their cable company to see the show live as it airs on Sunday nights. However, what John Oliver’s show has done that not many other shows do, especially ones on premium cable subscription channels, is found a way to make his interesting content very sharable by putting all of his segments up on YouTube.

And this is why we say that John Oliver gets it. He knows that if you want your content to spread it has to be three things; interesting, entertaining and sharable. Last Week Tonight is all three of these, which is why it got so popular so fast.

We used MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to dig a little deeper on the social phenomenon that is is John Oliver’s brand of entertaining news.

Since Last Week Tonight debuted at the end of April this year, the show’s name or John Oliver have appeared in over 818,000 social media posts.  Mentions have appeared in 14,496 blog posts, 17,346 online news articles, 26,152 forum postings and 760,222 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

There has also been, over the same time period, 11,973 videos posted that have John Oliver or Last Week Tonight mentioned in their titles or descriptions. And, to add to that, only 83 of those videos come from the show’s own YouTube channel.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

While the number of mentions that John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have received since their show debuted is by no means an astronomical number, it’s really what was in those posts and how many people saw them that mattered. And what was in them, was videos from their YouTube channel.

You see, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight knew that not everyone has an HBO subscription. So they made their content easy to find and share somewhere else, the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. And it’s been working for them.

We pulled up some of the stats from the Last Week Tonight YouTube page. What we found that the channel has over a million subscribers. Even better though is that the 83 videos posted to the channel have amassed over 150 million views. That’s not bad since the channel has only existed for just about 6 months.

Sysomos MAP - YouTube Channel Analysis

Even more impressive is when we looked at which of his videos were the most popular. The top five most popular videos from the channel weren’t the short funny little two minute videos. All five of them were the show’s longer form feature stories that average around 14 minutes in runtime.

Sysomos MAP - Most Viewed Videos On Last Week Tonight's YouTube Channel

Even more interesting though is when we go back to the social mentions of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight we started talking about. When we look at those mentions on our popularity chart, which plots out the mentions over time, we can see a bunch of large spikes in conversation. All of them, including the largest spike on August 18th, happen on Mondays, the day after the show airs on HBO. People would literally be waiting for the videos to go up the next morning so they could see them and share them.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

So, what can you learn from John Oliver and Last Week Tonight?

The main take-aways we see here is that there is no magic length for how long a blog post or a video should be to optimize how much your content gets shared through social media. Your content should be as long as it needs to, as long as you can keep it interesting, entertaining and make it easily sharable. If you can do that, people will be anxiously waiting for your content so they can see it and share it.

And now, just for fun and so those of you not familiar with the show can understand what we’re talking about, here’s one of our favourite clips from the first season of Last Week Tonight (of course it has to do with the internet):

 

Best of 2014: What’s the ROI of Sharing Content on Social Media?

Social media is a great place to form relationships with customers, potential clients and other people.

This is something we hear all the time. But if social media is meant for forming relationships, why is there so much content sharing going on through all the different networks?

This was a question we tackled in this staff favourite post from earlier this year when we explored why people curate and share content in social media.

This post was first published on November 10, 2014:
SharingFor all the talk about social media being a place to engage and have conversations, sharing content is probably what most people do the most.

The question is why so much sharing?

What is it about social media that makes it such an active medium to share interesting articles, photos, infographics, videos, etc. with other people?

Is it vanity? Is it goodwill? Is it a way to reward interesting, weird, different or high-quality content? Is it about personal branding?

It’s probably all of the above, as well as many other reasons. The reality is social media is a super-easy way to share content, while human beings are inherently information disseminators.

Telling people information about things we have found, seen or read is part of our personal make-ups. It’s what we do, so social media only serves to facilitate and accelerate this activity.

That said, a recent survey of Canadians using Twitter and Facebook showed some interesting differences in how we use different platforms.

On Twitter, for example, 79% of respondents said the reason they shared content was to endorse it. On Facebook, endorsing content was only cited by 32% of respondents.

Many of the other categories ranked fairly closely with the exception of “gain followers/build a brand”. Only 2% of Twitters users said they shared content to achieve this goal, compared with 11% of Facebook users.

One of the more interesting trends to watch in 2015 is how content curation will become more popular and valuable for brands and individuals.

While there are many reasons to share content, there is more interest in how shared content is packaged and tracked, and how it can deliver better ROI.

Platforms such as Pressly, which allow brands to create destinations to share their own and curated third-party content, will likely gain more traction so brands can have more control shared content.

At the same time, you will likely see more services such as Snip.ly, which lets people add a small “branding widget” when they share content via social media. It’s a way to gain a little more of the spotlight, other than the goodwill of sharing content.

In many respects, the social media sharing economy is evolving and moving in interesting directions. While people will continue to enthusiastically share, there will also be more ways to capitalize on this activity.

share social media

Digital Marketers Need to Refocus on Content

It seems people who want to succeed in social media, keep ending up at the same starting point.

All marketers, PR professionals and community managers need to realize the main engine of social media is content.

Activity and engagement are obviously vital but they are a product of content.

The question is how do you create all of the content needed daily or weekly.

The answer isn’t as complicated as you think.

First, you are not responsible to create all content by yourself. Consider guest writers, ghost writers (prepare them properly!) and even just curating existing content.

When it comes to curating be sure to source, or even create a companion piece in which you provide additional information and context from the original writer. This has been a hugely successful tactic.

Your social media success will rely most heavily on the content you create from scratch, and the voice you are able to develop to convey to users and readers.

What makes the best content is always a topic of contention and debate. Personally, I would have to go with strong opinion. This is what drives me back to a brand or writer time and time again.

What do you look for in content around social media?

What Works Better: Content or Contests?

Within the social media marketing landscape, content may be king but contests are the sexy queen.

While a steady flow of solid content can be a beneficial way to engage with consumers, contests are the “digital honey” that catches their attention, pulls them into the “hive” and, as important, keeps them coming back.

Let’s face it: people like to win prizes or receive free stuff. And contests are great way to feed these desires. The power of social media is it provides people with an easy and efficient way to share the news about their prizes, which creates a ripple effect for companies looking to maximum their contest activities.

So what’s more important: content or contests?

The reality is creating content involves a lot of work and effort that has to happen on a regular basis. To feed the beast, fresh content has to be continually generated. And there is no guarantee the content being created will resonate or be shared by people – even if they enjoy consuming it.

On the other hands, contests are appealing because they tap into the appetite among consumers to win things. Contests have been a long-time staple used by companies to attract attention and build their brands. So it’s no surprise contests have been enthusiastically embraced by companies looking to boost their social media marketing efforts.

From the outside looking in, it is difficult not to get the impression contests are better than content because they’re easier to offer and less expensive. Why not just offer a steady stream of contests to attract and retain users as opposed to investing in the effort to create content?

It may be a tempting to love the Contest Queen more than Content King but a more realistic and better approach is a happy marriage between the two.

Content offers a company’s social media efforts a solid foundation than can provide a competitive and long-term edge. Meanwhile, contests can be layered nicely on content to give social media programs some sizzle and pizzazz from time to time.

An important thing to remember with contests if they have to be easy for people to participate in, it has to be simple to share the contest with other people, and, if possible, there should be incentives for people to spread to word (e.g. an additional entry for each person who is notified about the contest or enters it.)

Another consideration is the prizes don’t have to cost a lot of money. In most cases, it’s not the size of the prizes that matters but the chances of winning and the ease of entering. In an ideal world, there is a happy middle ground between a prize that is too modest to be appealing, and one that is too expensive to offer.

Within a successful and effective social media marketing program, content and contests are be an effective one-two punch that can complement each other.

 

Content is King But Needs Worker Bees

In previous posts, we’ve talked about the value of content as a key component of a viable social media presence. But an issue that many companies tend not to focus on is who creates the content.

In a recent blog post, Brainzooming’s Mike Brown did a great job of putting this reality in the spotlight, including a quadrant graphic that shows content richness and the ability to integrate it into your social media programs.

The creation of content falls firmly into the realm of tactical execution, which can be a lot more work than anticipated because so much content must be created to have a rich and engaging social media presence. I describe it as “grunt work” because it often receives less attention or appreciation than it deserves.

But that’s the thing about social media – strategy is sexy and glamorous; tactics are challenging and a constant pull on resources.

For companies and organizations getting into social media or looking to improve their efforts, a crucial consideration is determining the available resources so decisions can be made about how many services can be supported properly.

It makes no sense, for example, to have a multi-faceted social media program if the allocated resources are spread too thin. One of the key tenets I preach is it’s better to do less and do it as well as you can rather than do a mediocre job at many things.

It sounds like a straightforward approach but too often there is a perception the more you do, the better the effort.

Unfortunately, this is misguided.

The bottom line is content has to be constantly created, otherwise target audiences will lose interest and drift away. Second, there has to be good quality content that engages, enlightens or entertains. Third, there is needs to be people to make content happen, which can involve full-time employees, contractors or third-party agencies.

The Importance of the Editorial Calendar

Social media is a beast with an insatiable and never-ending appetite. If it goes hungry, a company’s social media efforts can start to suffer as people lose interest and get less engaged.

With steady flow of content so important, a key element of a tactical plan is an editorial calendar, a document that spells out what content will be appear when over a period of weeks or months. An editorial calendar is important because it provides a social media program with structure and supports the creation of constant content.

This lets a company know what’s coming editorially and plan in advance as opposed to creating content on the fly, which can put a lot of pressure on a social media person or team.

In some respects, an editorial calendar runs counter to how social media operates because it establishes a long-term plan as opposed to being part of a real-time engagement and conversation plan.

But an editorial calendar is actually a way to support real-time activity by providing a foundation upon which conversations and engagement can be layered.

Creating an editorial calendar is a fairly straightforward process. It starts with selecting a period of time – let’s say three months – and then adding regular events or themes so that a regular schedule is created. It could be a specific kind of blog post each week, a poll or a contest.

The idea is that things happen on a regular and ongoing basis so the social media team knows what to do, and the audience knows what to expect.

In an ideal world, an editorial calendar makes life easier for a company to feed the social media beast.

Social Media No Longer a Novelty. Now What?

In the wake of all the buzz surrounding Quora, which is an old concept (online Q&A) wrapped in a nice social skin, one thing has become apparent: the novelty of social media is pretty much over.

The major players and platforms are established – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, WordPress – and most people have heard about them or using them. It was only a couple of years ago that social media was something shiny and new; now it’s becoming just another part of the communications landscape.

So, now what?

For starters, social media is losing its lustre as a competitive differentiator. It’s no longer good enough to be first or among the first to leverage a social media service. Being on Facebook and Twitter is now table stakes. Blogs are boring (and that’s not a bad thing), while LinkedIn is no longer a mystery (although getting a lot of out it is still somewhat of a mystery).

Using social media just means you’re in the game. Now, the key is making sure that you play the game well, which all about really leveraging the tools and services as much as you can.

The most important part of the “game” is content because this is where creativity, engagement, energy and smarts can be effectively and powerfully layered on top of social media services. Content is what will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Companies that can create high-quality content will rise above the crowd because creating great content is a lot more challenging than simply starting a Twitter or Facebook account.

All the attention now being showered on Quora illustrates how social media is no longer new or unique. Quora is interesting but it’s not a show-stopper or likely not something that will go mainstream. But Quora is one of the few new-ish social media services around so it’s the talk of the town – sort of the new kid at school who becomes less interesting within a few days.

If you’re a company looking to do well at social media, you’ll need a strategic and tactical plan but, increasingly, success will be determined by the quality of your content – be it blog posts, videos, photos, contests, polls or interesting tweets and updates.