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Follow your “Content Rules”

August 29, 2011

"Content Rules' by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Contentrulesbook.com

Fellow #superintern Catherine Lewis and I attended the Social Media Club of Dallas’ monthly meeting July 21, featuring C.C. Chapman. He discussed the rules of creating content within an online marketing realm, beginning with Merriam-Webster’s definition of content – “anything an individual or organization creates and shares to tell their story.”

Chapman said everyone has a story to tell. Content and story-telling have no expiration date, and it doesn’t have to revolve around selling products or making money.

As marketers, the goal should be to illicit an emotional response from readers and the community so that they share your content with their personal networks. Chapman’s take reminded me of Kit Eaton from Fast Company, who recently said: “We share something because, for whatever reason, it ignites powerful emotions–good or bad–that arouse your nervous system.”

Chapman listed seven tips to “make content rule”:

Speak human.  

  • Don’t use legal speak, buzz words or PR jargon.
  • The content on Army Strong Storiesis driven completely by soldiers, family members, friends and supporters. There is no administration or approval process for members when posting blogs, videos or story submissions on the site, and they accept content from all perspectives. In fact, a video with a soldier complaining about the current war was allowed to remain on the site.
  • The site has been so successful because it cuts through the jargon and uses appropriate, relatable language.

Do something unexpected. 

  • Make your content stand out, but remember: unexpected does not equal inappropriate.

Show and tell.

  • Don’t just tell  your story  – live it.
  •  Goruck, a company that makes military grade gear and equipment, has a simple website with a personal touch from the CEO. He writes some of the content himself – in fact, the dog on the home page is his own.
  • Chapman said he personally felt better about the company because they show what they believe in, instead of just promoting a product.

Re-imagine – don’t recycle.

  • Chapman used the Eloqua Book Review Collection as an example. They used “the most powerful marketing and social media tool – the intern” to collect and create a database of five previously written reviews and reimagined them into a “best of” e-book and blog post.

Stoke the campfire. 

  • You can’t just throw big logs together and expect a fire to start. You start with the small logs, twigs and branches, and once those catch, you gradually add in the bigger logs to build the flame. This analogy was used to illustrate that in the marketing world, it is important to focus on the little details as well as the big picture.
  • Chapman added: Don’t create content for the sake of having content – write when there’s something to say, and maintain a schedule for content development to spark new ideas.

Move forward with purpose. 

Marketers need to know why they are creating content. Ask yourself two questions:

  • “What is the goal?”
  • “How are we going to measure success?”

If you don’t set goals, you won’t know when or if you accomplish them.

Have fun!

  • This is the most important tip to remember. Don’t fear content creation; relish in it and enjoy the process.

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