Way back in 1988 a little book by Robert Fulghum captivated America for the better part of two years. Called "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," the book outlined the basic lessons every kid learns in the first year of primary school and how those apply to our everyday lives as adults.
As I've worked over these last many weeks on this content marketing series, I've thought a lot about that book, so I dug it out and reread it. Predictably, its lessons apply particularly well to today's focus: social media content.
Throughout this series I've tried to stress the importance of producing and publishing solid, constantly-updating content in your Web sites, microsites, landing pages, mobile apps and other marketing channels. The whole point is that you can't get at truly effective SEO unless you have a truly effective content marketing strategy. Executing smart social media tactics is one more element of a well-rounded plan that pays dividends not only on the SEO front but also on the social networking front-both of which are drivers of real traffic to your destinations.
And by highlighting all of the social media you produce, aggregate, curate and share in your various Web marketing channels, you introduce a powerful element that gets at one more metric that is increasing in importance daily: effective audience engagement.
So how do Fulghum's lessons apply to an effective social media content strategy? Consider these and add your own in the comments section below:
1. Share everything, play fair, and don't hit people. Be as transparent and honest as possible. Share updates to your blog posts, newsletter archives, YouTube channel and podcast channel. Use the established social norms to build a like-minded audience with whom you're able share everything. And for goodness sake don't use your social channels for ill-be a force for good, always.
2. Don't take things that aren't yours. Observe fair use standards. Link to give credit where credit is due (or, as Jeff Jarvis says, "link unto others as you would have them link unto you"). Don't use media for which you don't own a copyright. Don't repurpose others' whole original work without their approval first.
3. Clean up your own mess, and say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Social media being what it is -- and social networking as a primary means for distributing social media being what it is -- you're bound to step in it once in awhile. People are people. They make mistakes. It's okay. 'Fess up. Take ownership. Do a heartfelt mea culpa when necessary (and really really mean it.)
4. Wash your hands before you eat; flush; and live a balanced life. Have you scrubbed your keyword lists? How about your topics list? And your audience lists? Have you flushed the stuff that isn't relevant or necessary or useful in some way? Is there a balance between the light stuff and the heavy stuff? The funny and the serious stuff? The deeply human and the buttoned-up business stuff?
5. Remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Have you found all the good stuff from within your own four walls? Have you looked past the obvious to find the truly interesting and engaging stuff? What about outside your four walls? Are you using your full field of vision, especially the peripheral?
6. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic. Do you have a plan for measuring success? Do you even know what success looks like? If so, are you clear about how you're measuring -- and how those measures will be used for making future action plans?
7. Be aware of wonder. Too often in business we restrict ourselves to the rules of whatever particular game we're playing and fail to recognize when magical things are happening right beneath our noses. Seek out the little things that surprise and delight you -- the random tweet or blog comment, or that light-hearted parody of something your marketing team has done -- and then celebrate those.
8. The roots go down and the plant goes up. Social media and networking strategies aren't "instant on" -- they require cultivation and constant tending. But with patience, they do bear fruit. So: start it, and then hang in there and keep doing it.
Next week in the content marketing strategy series: What publishers can teach us about efficiently creating great newsletter content.