The New Five Ws… Or How to Produce Relevant Content That Isn’t Crap
I spoke yesterday to a great crowd at Social Media Tulsa 2012 about social relevance and how we use our social networks to filter the huge amount of content we come into contact with online every day. Often, the filtering is happening in ways we don’t see or recognize like when Facebook chooses what to show in your newsfeed because of what you’ve interacted with in the past. Or when Google show you personalized search results because of who you’re connected to on Twitter or other social nets. The big ideas, though, concerned blowing up the myth that content is king. Relevant content is king, queen and probably even the court jester as required. And I’m not talking about just making sure your content is SEO friendly or keyword rich. Content can be keyworded to death and still be crap. In fact, is usually IS crap.
Relevance doesn’t mean “how do I get people to find what I’m selling / sharing / writing about on my google ad-heavy website?” Relevance means how do we organzine, judge and interact with information online. How do users determine what is relevant? They evaluate the following:
- Who did it come from? (my best friend, a business colleague, my old friend from high school, a random Twitter follower)
- Where did I find it? (Which social channel, which news site, which blog, which portal or website?)
- What is the context? (Is there an obvious slant or spin?… Note, how much credence this point is given directly depends on number 4)
- How important is this to me (how much do I care about the accuracy of the information?)
Users make those judgements quickly when evaluating search results or evaluating content on a site. Relevant content ticks all the boxes…. it’s from a source they trust or value, it exists in an expected or trusted channel or site, the context makes sense or resonates with the user, and the accuracy isn’t suspect. Then… you have a shot at getting that bit of content noticed and possibly retained.
You must know who your intended audience is. You must spend some time thinking about where they go online for what different types of content. Delivering dating advice via LinkedIn might not be the best channel choice, for instance. The context may not be relevant for what the audience is seeking from that site at that time. It isn’t enough to know who, demographically, hangs out where. To be relevant, you have to figure out why they go where they go and what they want to accomplish while there.
Then, you can start to create content that matters. That is relevant to your intended audience. Now it’s time to look at those old stand-bys of journalistic writing – the 5 Ws – except with a social relevance twist.
- Who are you writing for?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What do they do there? (how much time, what kinds of interactions, what kind of environment)
- When do they seek out your type of content? (When in the sales cycle? What time of day? What kind of life experience or problem or moment tends to prompt seeking out your content?)
- Why YOU? How can you be the relevant choice?
- and How can you deliver what they want?
Now you’re ready to write or shoot or create content that matters. And if you follow the above, you’ll see very quickly why you should go, right now, and turn off your autopost from Facebook to Twitter.