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Determining Good Tone & Content for Your 2.0 Communications

Last month, we discussed the ins and outs of good social media frequency (visit the archived blog). This month, we’ll look at how to pick your tone and content.

“Think about it like having a conversation with a friend but with your boss looking over your shoulder.”
That’s pretty good advice from Merrell Ligons, Digital Solutions Manager at Cox Media. “I can’t claim credit for it,” he said, admitting it’s the advice from Cox Media’s social media editor Robert Quigley. (I still give Merrell credit though – he did, after all, offer the advice.)

Social media content varies from wise-cracking to repetitive re-tweets. By their very nature, Twitter and Facebook are casual forums, attracting people visiting at leisure, to escape, reconnect and discover new things. Stiff, jargon-filled content is unlikely to attract the attention of those cruising the info-blasts for a good time, so-to-speak.

“It is better to be informal and conversational in order to invite responses and interest,” Melanie Brenneman, Senior Account Manager at Edge Legal Marketing said.

In a poll posted on Hot Dog Marketing’s AskMyMob.com page, 40% of respondents said they were typically looking for updates that were “funny” and “kill time.” The same percentage said they preferred “quirky” updates. One candid quote from a AskMyMob.com user: “Following companies is boring.”

How to Not Be Boring
Just like with any other marketing piece, you have to examine your target and determine what kind of content YOUR audience will find interesting and engaging.

“There’s a big difference between speaking with lawyers versus college students,” Brenneman said. “I think [determining good content] has to do with how well the business knows its customers.”

Hot Dog Marketing’s advice: assuming you already have a pretty good grasp on your audience, list all of the media and resources you think they might be interested in. Think of general stuff. For example, a running shoe company might know that its followers are generally healthy people, interested in organic foods and have dogs as pets . . . therefore, runners might like anything from healthy recipes to funny dog videos. If you have a wide range of ideas in mind, you can more thoughtfully choose interesting content that will help you accomplish your communications goals.

If this doesn’t help, take Bazaarvoice’s Marketing Manager Lemuel Williams’s advice: “If you are not sure how people will respond to your topic or message, vette it out first because people, by nature, want their voices to be heard.” In other words, it never hurts to just ask – thus is the beauty of this 2.0 world.

Try It and Track It
When you have a bunch of ideas of content you’d like to try, plan on a testing period and track your results. When you enter a discussion with a bunch of marketers on this topic, they are, overwhelmingly, in agreement on this point. Marketing 101, if it doesn’t work – stop doing it. Measure your click-throughs and general response rate with certain topics. If it’s not generating any buzz, try something else. You can even re-post the same content after some time has past with different wording. Once you’ve found a few tactics that work, you can develop a plan around those principles and develop more content based on what tested well.

Also, don’t forget to be patient. You’re probably not going to go viral with your first few posts (or maybe ever). Gaining followers is a long process and getting a few positive hits from something is a good indicator that your content worked.

And Now for My Final Thought (Jerry Springer style)
The worst thing you can do (and the biggest waste of your company’s time) is to use social media without a plan and goals. Do not tweet just to tweet. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, your 2.0 marketing is likely to fail. You can actually hurt your reputation if you’re not thoughtful and compelling. So, before you share, be prepared.