Whether employed in-house, at an agency or as a consultant, public relations practitioners are frequently tasked with managing and updating social profiles. Oftentimes, they are solely responsible for generating new content to post, whether for a LinkedIn group, Twitter profile, company blog or other digital channel. Browsing social bookmarking sites and sifting through tweets can be a headache, especially when you come up empty handed. As such, it is no surprise that many PR professionals ask themselves the same question on a regular basis: “what should I post today?”
While it can become an ongoing struggle to find fresh, interesting and relevant content worthy of posting, it doesn’t have to be this way. An effective solution to this problem is to implement a content curation strategy to guide your posting. The Public Relations Society of America defines content curation as a process that involves “identifying and organizing information that others have produced about a specific topic to share with your own audience” (source: PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics, May 2011). It is a valuable approach that will allow you to:
- Evaluate content to ensure it is relevant to your audience
- Utilize content you already have available to you within the social profiles you manage
- Source additional information easily and quickly through social content dashboards
Finding content to share online can be a challenge, especially when your goal is to provide information of interest to your followers. In many instances, it is easier to re-tweet something that appears in your newsfeed, even if it’s not that relevant to your industry, than to come up with new material. However, this wastes a valuable opportunity to engage your online stakeholders. Rather than taking the easy way out, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to ensure any content you share offers value. When creating or searching for material to share, keep this acronym in mind: C.I.A.
Current: On social networks, news more than a few days old is often not worth sharing. By posting information that is still current to those in your industry, you’re more likely to engage with your online community than you otherwise might.
Interesting: Bear in mind what will interest your followers. If you know your audience and what they want to know more about, you can ensure that what you share will catch their attention.
Applicable: Anything you tweet, post or blog should be relevant to your online community. Follow the cardinal rule of writing: stick to what you know.
Once you are familiar with the criteria that your content should meet, how do you go about locating it? The first step is to look at what you already have and what you can crowdsource. It is likely that you may have content at your fingertips and not even realize it. If your business is on Yelp, for instance, identify positive reviews of your company from which you can extract quotes. Contact the poster for permission to use their review as a testimonial and, if given the okay, tweet or post highlights from these reviews.
Crowdsourcing content from your followers can easily be achieved through a contest or giveaway that requires a submission, such as a photo or essay, in order to enter. For instance, since video is a very popular medium, consider asking your Facebook community to post a clip on your company page about a topic relevant to your organization or industry. In September of 2010, Dunkin' Donuts did just that with a Facebook contest to find the biggest coffee fan. Individuals entered by submitting a 60-second video explaining what made them the ultimate Dunkin’ Donuts coffee fan. The benefits were twofold: not only did the campaign keep the company’s Facebook page updated with fresh content on a daily basis, it also provided content that could be leveraged on other platforms (such as YouTube in this instance).
Last year, luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman ran a similar campaign on Facebook. The retailer encouraged its followers to create their own customized color scheme for a Fendi handbag, one of which would be translated into a limited edition collection for purchase. In this case, it was the fans who created the content rather than Bergdorf’s own social media team, making their job that much easier. Coming up with creative ways to solicit content from your online community is an effective strategy that engages your audience while leveraging the presence you already have on the social web.
Serena Matter is a Social Media Strategist at the Sauder School of Business & Founder and Principal of Be.Social Consulting.