Is great social media content necessarily great site content? Absolutely not!
To illustrate, think of posts or articles that you know intuitively would perform exceptionally well on major social media sites. How many of these would you feel comfortable putting on your corporate site? Very few, right?
Accordingly, we need to look for the conceptual common ground shared by successful social media content and quality blog content. Ideally, that content should be woven into one cohesive strategy that will:
a. reinforce key messages to clients
b. help to further perceptions of authority
c. aid in attracting new clients
d. attract links from relevant high quality sources
Types of Quality Blog Content:
To begin, lets look at blog quality on a conceptual level. Professional blogger and marketing consultant Chris Garrett has a great post on the subject titled Diggbait, LinkBait, Flagship Content, and Authority . In this post, Chris defines the Content Value Ladder in order of ascending importance:
1. Filler content – The me-too stuff that many blogs copy and paste from press releases and other blogs.
2. Good, original content – Anything that delivers on the blogs promise in an original and valuable way
3. Authority building content – Content that positions the blogger as an authority in the niche
4. Pillar content – A blog's solid foundation of resource posts and tutorials (coined by Yaro Starak)
5. Flagship content – Articles and reports that go above and beyond, creating significant value in a way that draws in readers for years to come.
Obviously, the goal is to create as much pillar and flagship content as possible. I'm going to disagree with Chris about authority building being a rung on his ladder. My belief is that authority is another dimension entirely, and can be layered like a filter atop most types of content.
Types of Social Media Content:
As mentioned in my last post Types of Social Media Content - A Conceptual Overview, there are essentially 3 types of social media content, each with its own strengths and weaknesses:
2. Sensational/Entertainment Submissions
3. Resources/Educational Submissions
Combining Both Types of Content:
By combining Chris Garrett's Blog Content Value Ladder with the 3 types of Social Media Content, we can begin to understand which types of combinations perform well on both blogs and social media. This is the ideal!
1. News Content
Unless you're an official news site, placing existing news stories related to your industry on your own site would qualify as the lowest form of blog content quality (Filler Content according to Chris). From a social media perspective also, news from non-primary sources is also not recommended, so there is really very little possible gain to be had. At the same time, these types of news stories certainly do not help you to establish authority either.
That does not mean that all news is a lost cause however.
Instead ask yourself:
a. Can you spin the story differently than has been done until now?
b. Can you provide an analysis of the implications of the news to your target market?
If the answer to these questions is "yes," then the story has a good chance to be successful on related social media. In fact, capitalizing on media hype about a specific topic can help you get attention, and increase the probability of a related piece that you write being successful. Internally, we call it "just-in-time blogging", because you've got to create the post in real time based on the major related news of the day.
This is a really good approach to social media, but also to blogging and quality content in general. The simple reason is that you are forcing yourself to expand on a concept. At the lowest possible level, it qualifies as good original content, but may well be pillar or flagship content if you put enough thought and research into it. Posts like this can also build perceptions of authority among potential clients.
2. Sensational/Entertainment Content
These entertainment/sensational-focused submissions typically perform very well on general social media sites like Digg, Reddit, or Stumbleupon, but do more poorly on industry/vertical sites.
From a blog content perspective, such posts would typically be classified as filler content, and offer very little real opportunity to demonstrate authority or exceptional knowledge. In fact, this type of post could possibly harm perceptions of the blog, if it creates confusion or reduces perceptions of professionalism (depending on the personality of the blog).
Accordingly, if this type of content is to be employed as part of a linkbaiting effort, it should be done carefully. First, it should not be done in place of a quality piece on content. If you do create this kind of content, consider the potential impact before placing it on the actual blog. Consider instead posting it as a separate page, and referring to it from a blog post.
3. Resource/Educational Content
Resource type posts typically attract many links, and often qualify as either pillar or flagship content, especially when comprehensive or supported by significant facts. This type of post performs exceptionally well at helping to define someone as an authority in subjects relating to the topic of the piece, though often require substantial time to create. They also do well in many types of industry specific social media ... though often not as well in the generic social media (eg. Digg, Reddit).
What's interesting about Resource/Educational posts versus Sensational/Entertainment type posts is that while Sensational posts drives lots of traffic in the short term and Resource type posts not as much, Resource type posts show stamina in continuing to drive traffic over time where Sensational often posts do not.
Authority Building and Content:
Earlier, I suggested that I disagree with Chris Garrett about listing "authority building" as a separate rung on his Content Value Ladder. I think it's possible to insert authority-building content into posts in any of the other categories, and not simply as separate posts. For instance, fact-based, editorialized content may be included in a sensationalized piece to help explain how certain elements were made possible (like a water filtering company explaining why water can taste different amongst the 10 sources identified in a piece called "The 10 Best Tasting Glasses of Water on the Planet"). By doing so, a company can demonstrate their knowledge, and build their authority, even in a highly sensationalized piece.
Using this model as a conceptual framework, my next few posts can now speak to specific recommendations and action items designed to help you accomplish your online objectives. Stay tuned ...
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