It's a pretty crazy time to be in the business of content creation. Back in the old days when I first started my professional career, I defined "creating content" as going to a specific place, whipping out my 4x8 reporter's notebook and writing down what my senses processed for however long it took for me to get basic facts and powerful anecdotes. Then, I'd go back to an office, sit in front of a computer, and do my best to interpret all of those notes into a cohesive, easy-to-read, engaging group of words.
My, how things have changed. But for the better, in my opinion. You can still use that notebook if you want, but now you can also snap photos, take video, instantly upload to whatever social sharing site you choose. Content is more than just blog posts or web articles. It's white papers, it's PowerPoints and Prezis, it's user-generated photos united under a hashtag.
But one thing hasn't changed: It's all got to be organized.
I'm always learning, but I've picked up some insights about social media content creation that have so far served me well. So, I thought I'd share:
Organize by topic or initiative, not by social channel. While it's good to offer up something a little different on each of your social channels, content topics aren't always so neatly contained — nor should they be. When I first started organizing content, I tried to do it by social channel, and it quickly became counterproductive (at least for me). Starting with a concept or initiative, then optimizing it across each social presence jived much better with my brain. A concept will take on multiple forms, such as a series of helpful tweets, a video, or a collection of photos. Further, organizing by concept/initiative better shows the powers that be how your social media efforts are supporting company-wide initiatives.
Document the phases through which your content moves. Content development is strategic, but ultimately, it's a highly creative process. It starts as an idea in someone's head and ends as a tangible piece of consumable information that helps to achieve higher goals. I find it very helpful to have documents set up that give me, or anyone who's interested, a quick-hit picture of where the content development process stands at any given moment in time. I've got a document that essentially serves as my creative sandbox: No limits, nothing off the table, ideas as grand and risky as I well please. From that document, I create a more filtered, detailed list of topics and initiatives that cover an entire year, for possible inclusion in the "end product:" an editorial calendar that I share with all interested parties on a weekly basis.
Involve others. Creating social media content all by yourself sounds like a bit of an oxymoron to me. It should be a fully collaborative process through which others are encouraged to offer up ideas and feedback. For instance, I always invite the people with whom I share my editorial calendar to offer up ideas, additions, changes, suggestions. Some people simply provide their own content for me to include in the calendar, and I think that's great.
Open your mind. If you're on the hunt for content ideas, don't box yourself into your own industry. Regularly check out what others are doing across multiple industries and fields. Learn from their successes and failures. I collect ideas using Evernote's clipping tool in Google Chrome, but there are countless other ways to bookmark all of those bursts of inspiration (Pinterest, Facebook lists, etc.).
Never forget home base. Whether it's a website or a blog, your content should be driving people toward an end game. Perhaps that end game involves raising awareness, or selling a product. Whatever it is, your content should be creatively directing people to it.
How do you develop your content for social media?