Content is king

If You Love Your Content, Set It Free

Is that Sting song in your head now?

"Free, free. Set them free."

"If you loooove someone—SET THEM FREE!"

Thank you, Gordon Sumner (Sting's real name - let's just take it all the way).

I'm singing this in my head because of some funny conversations I've had about social media this week. It seems so weird to still have to get into the "yes, but you really want them to take your stuff and reuse it" conversation, but there you have it.

Nonprofits especially seem to get all tomcat territorial over their posts and content. I don't understand it. With acquisition being so difficult these days, their social networks are where they should be building the back and forth, warm and fuzzy goodness that will nurture those folks toward the next step: making a gift, volunteering, sharing posts, etc.

For my nonprofit brethren, this is for you.

1. Why Are You Using Social if You're Not Feeling Social?
The purpose of Facebook, Twitter, et al is to share, share, share. If you're not comfy with people taking your stuff - or bits of your stuff - and sharing it with the world, you need to consider why you're using this particular medium.

2. There Are Nice Ways to Get What You Want.
If it's super important to you that excerpts or blurbs are credited when retweeted or shared, say so — and make it easy. Ask them to link back to your site. Provide them with the text to use. Just be friendly and not finger waggy. Trust that people will do what you have respectfully requested. If they don't, they're still sharing your content and that's the name of the game. (Set It Free)

3. It's A Conversation with Real People - Not a Press Release Cannon.
It must bear repeating, y'all, cause I repeat it all the time. If you're in the fortunate position of having your donors and supporters take pride and ownership in your mission and want to spread it across the land in their own words to their people, you won. Don't quibble over the fact that they didn't quote your beloved mission statement exactly or edited your 500 word press release to one sentence. Be glad they care enough to read, engage with and distribute your goodies.

Want my attention? Share something worth sharing.

Content is king.

I read it all the time in industry pubs. I hear it at conferences.

As a copywriter, those three words make my little heart flutter. I love the idea that differentiation is—and will continue to be—driven by message.

But “content is king” deserves one giant, humungo qualification. Content is only king if it’s something the reader actually cares about.

Everyone knows that, right?

Uh, no.

Here are few don’ts inspired by real-life examples that fail the M&C “Who Cares” test. Excuse the vent.

  • Company tweets about weather, your mood, where you’re having coffee or anything else that would probably bore even your closest friends. Save it for Facebook (personal page), and you might even get hidden there if you’re not careful.
  • INSTEAD: Share industry news, new innovations, unexpected partnerships or brief success stories. Caveat—you can still go the random route, but make sure your musings are funny, witty, engaging or otherwise unexpected (but not inappropriate of course).
  • Web videos that last longer than 30 seconds—seriously folks, threshold for video entertainment is high. I feel robbed of moments of my life when it’s crap.
  • INSTEAD: Viral videos are good when they have a purpose, and it’s not just chestpounding. Check out YouTube for top viewed videos to get an idea of what keeps people interested.
  • An elaborate contact strategy telling me about your new logo. Trust me, you care more about your logo than the rest of us. Much more.
  • INSTEAD: A simple message about the change in look will suffice. Reiterate that the new look doesn’t mean you’re leaving your old personality behind. After all, you don’t want to scare your current customers who’ve come to know and love you.
  • An overcomplicated request. If I need crumbs, two Goonies and a GPS to understand what’s being asked of me, I’m out.
  • INSTEAD: Humans are simple creatures. Basic requests—consistent buttons—make the brain feel good. Test your marketing out with a variety of age groups to be sure.
  • Company newsletters filled with the 374 ways I can buy your product. It’s a waste of your time to create—and mine to read.
  • INSTEAD: I love newsletters—print and online—but think long and hard before creating one. They take a lot of work, and unless they’re done well, don’t deliver a great return. If you have one, go the extra mile to create articles with actual information (see #1 ideas) and not just re-packaged marketing copy.