Article written by Jason Francis
This week New York City has been the epicenter of Social Media-based discussion and conversation. Social Media Week has once again provided an opportunity for businesses to introduce new digital communication products and services. At the same time they have also been engaging the social community it serves both on and offline. One of the main themes of this year’s various sessions and panels is the valuable, irreplaceable role that quality content plays in any and all social media business models. They all understand that be it on a major corporate level or as individuals like professional bloggers, content trumps all.
AOL hosted a group of media professionals to dive into the question “Is Social Killing Storytelling?” As content creators, regardless of the product or service we are tapped to write about, at the core of things we are storytellers. We are asked to create something that will grab the reader’s attention and simultaneously draw them towards a specific idea. As image based communication platforms like Instagram and short form platforms like Twitter grow in scope, businesses are forced to adapt and integrate these new channels. Social media is seen by many as constant real time conversation which is not ideal for telling stories. This isn’t exactly true. Abigail Cusick of Bravo TV said that while “140 characters alone can’t tell a story…” It can peak interest and be a conduit back to the source site. Heidi Moore from The Guardian added that “While one tweet alone can’t tell a tale, social media is really the cumulative body of posts which can tell a short story as well.”
Major media is using this fact to preview future content usually on Facebook and follow up on this material via Twitter engagement. In the process still giving the people long form classic storytelling. What this tells us as creators is the story still needs to be created and it’s best done without thought or worry to what form it will be delivered in. Create the content then sculpt it to the various platforms as needed. Mashable’s Chief Marketing Officer shared with us that social media has forced all of their writers to improve their headline writer just as a natural reaction to social media. As we know, while the communication methods evolve it’s still and giving the people something worth their time. That will never change
In a later session, marketing professionals held a debate at the Social Flow offices to weigh how best to bring this organic content to the people. The question asked was, “Is Paid Ad Content Doomed?” This relates to our brand of sponsored material as well. The overwhelming view point was that no paid material isn’t doomed to fail but in today’s climate you do not automatically get attention or traffic because you spent money. Many view ads negatively not because they have no interest in the ad but due to the manner it was delivered to them. More so then in the days of TV and radio, we create the social entertainment environment we want to engage in. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all based on people we elected to follow. Imagine interrupting a group a friends chatting to sell them a random product. That is what the social media environment is, millions of conversations, so our goal is to not be intrusive but rather compliment the ongoing chatter.
This is similarly applicable for those of us that wish to put out our own material in book form. The publishing world has so many options for the indie writer but it’s the delivery, marketing and promotional moves that will make or break you. It’s less important how you get published then it is to let the public know what it is that has been published and why they need it. This is the heart of the saying “Content is King But Distribution is Queen.” Nothing you do matters if it is seen by no one. Our content does not exist if no eyes are on it. That is the component that makes us valuable. We not only create but our words have weight because when we speak/write people take notice. Influence is born from that instant social distribution of our content. We then can deliver material in a variety of ways to better engage our audience. A tried and true method that Buzzfeed is known for are lists. They jokingly mentioned, “The 10 commandments were a list.” People clearly approve of this means of information delivery.
We get a ton of mixed messages when it comes to how to engage the people but I think that a major take away of Social Media Week is to always remain organic in our content creation. Quality material always finds and attracts its proper audience. That’s what makes it social. If the what we create is relevant then the conversations will never end and they will in turn remain valuable both personally and professionally.