Moving beyond your own corporate social profiles, there is a vast amount of content that exists on social networks. On a daily basis, you could easily spend half an hour or more trying to unearth information to post, only to find none of it will be relevant to your followers. Never fear! There are options out there beyond the basics of trolling Twitter and scouring your RSS reader for information to share. Creating a social content dashboard (SCD) brings the relevant content to you. This type of dashboard amasses all of your digital news sources into one place, automating the process of information collection and saving you time.
As a content strategist, I find SCDs make the process of locating topical, industry-specific information much simpler. Content dashboards are completely customizable and offer you the ability to filter the types of information that are collected. There are several dashboard publishers available online, of which Netvibes is a great example. A free service, Netvibes is intuitive and easy to use. Once you have registered for an account, you can begin constructing your own SCD.
When building a dashboard, it is important to create a blueprint to structure your content sources. The typical dashboard has several tabs, each with a different focus. Bear in mind which news sources and feeds will be most relevant when developing your information architecture. I recommend creating separate tabs to monitor and gather information on any of the following subject areas that are relevant to your organization:
- Industry news sources
- Industry analysts, associations and peers
- Reporters, bloggers and Twitter users in your field
- Industry thought leaders
In an SCD, you can incorporate two kinds of content: feeds from a particular source, such as a blog or Twitter profile, and feeds from a search on a specific keyword. Both can yield valuable content, so it is worth having a mixture of the two in your dashboard. Think about the terms directly related to your industry, such as common expressions and keywords, and create feeds on those terms most likely to be discussed online.
To avoid information overload, you may have to carefully refine your keywords so that only worthwhile results are aggregated. If you find the results from a search feed to be too general, you should drill down further by adding additional words to filter out extraneous information. It can take some time to create terms that are focused enough, so trial and error is your best bet.
Once you have created your various tabs and added the feeds you want, the next step is to use your SCD regularly. When you are in need of something to post, log in to your dashboard and peruse the feeds until you see a headline that catches your eye. Clicking on it will bring up the entire article, tweet or otherwise, so you can review the content in its entirety and evaluate it using the C.I.A. Formula: is it current, interesting and applicable? From there, what you do with the content is up to you. You could share an interesting link or use what you find as a starting point for a blog post.
The attention-grabbing headlines and current news stories that appear in your SCD feeds can also be used as a conversation starter. Remarking on a hot topic in your company LinkedIn Group could spark a passionate debate amongst members, while at the same time populating the discussion page with new posts. Similarly, asking for opinions on a topical issue on your Facebook page can create a flow of interesting comments.
Sharing current information establishes your company’s social profiles as reliable, go-to sources for industry intelligence, which in turn builds the company’s reputation as a thought leader. A content curation strategy can help you make this a reality, by assisting you in locating and evaluating content. This technique can offer significant value to PR practitioners and should be considered whenever content creation becomes a challenge.
This article was originally published in PR News’ Digital PR Guidebook Volume 4.
Serena Matter is a Social Media Strategist at the Sauder School of Business & Founder and Principal of Be.Social Consulting.