Creating content isn’t rocket science but creating good content is a pain in the ass. Truer words have not been said.
These were spoken by the animated and thought-provoking C.C. Chapman during his weeklong swing through Canada that landed him in Vancouver on Jan. 20th for another Thursday night installment of Third Tuesday Vancouver (what’s in a name?).
The founder of Boston-based DigitalDads.com co-authored a recently released book on the subject called “Content Rules”. The book aims to provide guidance for writers, bloggers, content creators of all walks, with respect to creating compelling digital ink, video and so on.
“There’s a lot of crap out there and finding the good stuff can be hard sometimes. So whether you’re a church preacher, in a rock ’n roll band, or an executive at a Fortune 500 company . . . the book has lots of examples of how to create good content,” he said. “One of the things the book talks about is not to shill . . . everybody hates that.”
The dreaded writer’s block can be reduced significantly by way of a publishing schedule (or editorial calendar), he advised, even if it’s only for a few weeks at a time. “It helps you focus on what you’re going to create and why you’re going to do it,” he said. “You have to have a strategy; you have to know why you’re doing it.”
And don’t be afraid to let your humanity show. For those using social tools to represent their employers online, this is a critical ingredient.
“It’s such a simple act to be human online and to have a conversation with someone,” he said. “But for some reason, the PR folks, legal folks, they get in the way of people being human. They want people to speak on the bullet points and say the buzzwords . . . the laws and mentality around this stuff, it’s just not there. It’s a very grey area.”
In other words, when it comes to creating content in the public realm – be it a blog, video, tweet, or remark made on Facebook – if a corporation can’t trust its’ employees to talk on its behalf, then that company has bigger issues to tackle than how to create engaging content. “Don’t be scared to let your employees talk.”
Chapman then asked the audience ‘how do you define content?’ In sheer corporate speak, one woman responded: “human readable contextualized data”.
Chapman went pie-eyed. “You don’t really say that to your clients do you?”
For the record, Chapman defines content as something “an individual or organization creates and shares to tell their story.” Focus on the storytelling part because that’s what makes it exciting, he added.
“Every piece of advertising, every marketing campaign, it’s telling a story. Focus on how you’re going to tell that story and how to get people excited about your story,” he said. “If you create content that doesn’t engage people and get an emotional reaction from people (good or bad) then you’re doing it wrong. It’s not compelling enough.”
He also emphasized focusing on the strategy of content creation (figure out how/why you’re going to do it) and, using social tools, to measure its impact.
“Social media is more measureable than any other medium. You can’t measure it all sometimes but you know there’s value there,” he said. “I quote Scott Monty (head of social media for the Ford Motor Co.) on this a lot. He says he can’t measure the ROI (return-on-investment) of his pants but he still puts them on every morning.”
Most importantly, have fun doing it.
“When we were all little kids, we were all creating content. We didn’t call it that or worry about the SEO (search engine optimization) value of it, we did it because we were having fun,” he said. “Kids create stuff non-stop because they’re having fun. That gets knocked out of us way too fast in life.
“Whatever you create have fun doing it and be human when you do it.”
Good advice. What say you?