This is the summary of an informal discussion we had about social media usage. It contains ideas and best practices for effective and outcome based social media usage.
These experienced technologists participated in this discussion.
Sanjay Vyas, Mayur Tendulkar, Parag Paithankar, Raj Chaudhuri, Rajesh Pillai, Renji Panicker, Sanjay Shetty, Shivprasad Koirala, Vik Parmar.
Whichever social media modality you choose, interaction is mandatory. Without interaction you are unlikely to succeed. This is because these are “social” platforms. If you are not social, you will not be noticed. In fact, you may be perceived as an unapproachable, high-handed person.
Ideally, block time at periodic intervals to interact on social media of your choice. Interaction does not mean just adding a Like. It means commenting, asking questions, correcting (politely) erroneous content, adding missing points and so on.
Content must be produced consistently for social media platforms to notice you and promote you. Inconsistent content will never be successful even if it is the greatest content.
In fact, consistent content is more important than quality content. Create consistently and keep improving one or two things with each item. That way the algorithms (which means your target audience) have a predictable understanding of your rhythm. It also leads to long term quality improvement.
Most of the technology-oriented content is about how to use specific feature(s). However, there is a severe shortage of content about when to use these features – applied knowledge.
Original use case(s) which led to the feature are not the only scenarios where the feature is potentially applicable. In fact, the original use case is rarely documented as a part of the user documentation.
There is an untapped opportunity for creating content in this category. In fact, the same feature may be positioned in three completely different areas of application, e.g., by industry, by role, etc.
Whether to product content for monetization or not is an individual decision. However, if you product useful, good quality content consistently, some monetization is bound to happen.
If you are not interested in the monetary benefits, you can always choose platforms which do not support monetization.
On the other hand, if you are making money from the content and you are not interested in it, you can donate it to a worthy cause.
Use multiple platforms
Social media platforms are always evolving. Therefore, if you want to increase the probability of your success, it is necessary to use more than one platform.
Ideally, you can create each piece of content primarily targeted towards one platform and then cross-post it across secondary platforms (with necessary modifications, if needed).
Purpose should be obvious
Just producing content is a good start. But creating random content with no common thread or thought will confuse the target audience. It will also prevent you from creating a solid identity. Therefore, it is important to clearly communicate the purpose of creating content and stick to it.
Another thought is that you yourself are not clear about the purpose why you are creating the content. This is a disaster. In this case, stop at once. Think and find that purpose and then create relevant content.
Continuity means having a thread which binds content to each other. It can be a category or a principle or a thought process or a way of working. In either case, each piece of content should build upon and refer to the ideas already covered.
It is also important to seed ideas or references about future content in the current content. That way you are building a cohesive and logical path for your audience to follow.
Content in Regional language
Regional language content is another obvious opportunity. Hindi content is especially a huge segment. Existing content can be recast into regional content with little extra effort.
Regional languages can drive significant growth in social, if used correctly.
Having said that, regional does not just mean Hindi language. Indonesian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese localization also helps increase reach – especially for educational content (not for entertainment).
Share at the right time
Whatever content you produce needs to be posted at the right time. Most platforms will give you data about the optimal posting time. In absence of such data, use your understanding of your target audience profile to determine the right time to post the content.
The right format also matters. For example, on LinkedIn, most people have disabled Video AutoPlay. Therefore, adding content as Animated GIF will increase the impact. The downside is that Animated GIFs cannot have audio.
Do not aim for perfection
If you aim for perfection, you will end up producing lesser content more slowly. This defeats the purpose. All platforms give more weightage to number of artefacts produced and consistency of content creation rather than perfection.
Why? Because the quality of content cannot be determined by the platform at all. AI has not yet reached that level. That is why all platforms rely on “natural intelligence” – which is regular humans – to determine which type of content is good or not good.
The chances of these human consumers having the same level of understanding about the “perfection” you have in mind is very low. That is why incremental improvement is a better (and the only) approach.
Cross link existing content
Often creators ignore the existing content. Reusing or repurposing existing content can be an extremely rewarding activity – with minimal additional effort. Here are some ideas for reusing content:
- Update content to incorporate new features
- Delete and recreate content with current UI / concepts
- Use popular blog posts to create video content and vice versa
- Combine multiple short form content items into a long form content piece
- Expand on ideas already mentioned in existing content
- Put same content in different format on different platforms
Ingredients and recipes
Educational content is about knowledge areas. Knowledge is divided into topics and subtopics. In technical sense it is about Concepts, Apps and Features. Most of the current content is targeted towards teaching the topics (or features) – which is basically a glorified user manual or help file.
However, when you combine multiple features in the right way, you get actual benefit in personal and or professional context. There is no documentation or help file available for this.
That value delivery is not yet the focus of content creation. We are still at the feature / topic stage. That is what we refer to as Ingredients. It is time to work on Recipes content – Applied Knowledge (which we discussed earlier).
Another way of looking at it is like a toolkit. All tools are neatly arranged in a toolkit (or on the operation theatre trolley). The tools remain the same. The person using the tools remains the same. But the target – customer or patient changes. This gives a practically infinite opportunity for value-adding content creation.
Attention first, everything else later
As of now, your content has to grab attention in the first 3 to 5 seconds. Else you have lost the game. Many experienced creators do not understand this simple requirement. Whether it is text, audio or video, the same rule applies.
Therefore, focus on grabbing the attention first and then by all means work towards holding that attention by delivering value-adding, useful and relevant content.
Force people to interact
It is very easy to click the like button. But that is not really an interaction – it is more of a reflex. To provoke real interaction, we have following approaches.
- Ask questions
- Conduct polls
- Say something ambiguous or wrong and let people correct you
- Ask people how they would solve a problem
- Request contextual comments / feedback
- Reward interaction with time bound quizzes
Play on your strengths
You know your strength(s) – hopefully. If not, find that first. Then, find a method, app, approach, and process which uses that strength. Once you learn to translate your strength into content, further ideas and approaches will reveal themselves.
The converse is also true and therefore, needs to be documented explicitly.
DO NOT work in areas at which you are not good. For example, if you do not like to come in front of the camera, do not start a YouTube channel. Write a blog or create a podcast. If you create great content but your voice is not good, use AI voiceovers.
Combine multiple tech and passions
Most of us are bound to have multiple areas of expertise – in addition to the core expertise. Combine them to create interesting, unique, and differentiated content.
Just creating content on trending topics has limited long-term scalability. Combining strengths increases the permutations and potentially create completely new segments of useful content.
Depth vs Breadth
Depth in your area of expertise is assumed. However, too much depth and no awareness of related topics is called myopia. Breadth of knowledge about non-core but related areas is equally important.
In fact, it can enhance your core content as well as your reach exponentially.
Consistency with improvement in marketing
Although some of us detest it, all of us are marketing ourselves all the time – consciously or subconsciously. Therefore, it is necessary to know what is happening in the world of digital marketing.
This knowledge will eventually manifest in positive ways and improve the quality and reach of whatever content you produce.
Even if you are not interested in promoting your content, creating some ads and analysing the response will help you understand your audience better – which will positively influence the next content you produce.
Even from a purely academic point of view, just understanding the sophistication and level of detail available to configure the advertisement – including all signals and parameters is a revelation in itself.
Having great content is the first step. But we need to ensure that the content is discovered by the potential beneficiaries. Just putting the content up in the world and hoping that people will find cannot even be called – wishful thinking. It is sheer stupidity.
Content creation without any attempt to increase discoverability is same as not creating content at all. Therefore, there is no point in being a pure content creator. Such a thing does not exist.
Facts tell, stories sell
Facts are boring. To make the facts interesting enough to consume and benefit from, we need to put them in a story. In recent times, “storytelling” has become another fad or buzzword. But it has always been a part of teaching.
When you create any content, it is a story anyway. There is a beginning, middle and end, for example. So might as well use the proven techniques to refine the content structure.
These techniques can be used to make flat content pop out.
- Hook – something short, interesting and attention grabbing
- Comparison – with established norms, or related / competing – apps / technologies / topics
- Before / After – show how situation improved and highlight the contrast
- How to – get something done
- Quantify – e.g., 3 ways to …
- Case study
Jo dikhta ha wo bikta hai (What is seen is sold)
This is the intended outcome of discoverability. If your content is not seen anywhere, how will people click on it or consume it or interact with it?
The whole engine optimization industry is trying to manipulate known and unknown rules and variables to achieve this.
If you are starting afresh, there is a very high entry barrier in the context of well-established topics. Therefore, a long period of consistent content creation with incremental quality and visibility improvement is needed.
If you do not have the patience for it, all the effort put into content creation is a sheer waste of resources. The meaning of social network is
First it is social. And then it is a network. In order to make it sociable, we have to position ourselves and our content to be relevant, appealing and interactive. If people find it useful, it will spread across networks.
If your attempts of using the social network to create content are failing, there is no need to give up. Here are the corrective actions you can take:
- Learn from what went wrong
- Tweak the same content, if technically possible.
Else, add a variation of the content (keep the original one anyway)
- Learn to use analytics in detail
- Observe other people who get more traction.
Compare their earliest content with latest content and find what improved. Use that knowledge.
- Many tools have a free content audit option. Use it to find areas of improvement.
If popularity is the purpose, you need to understand the market, your current position, find the gaps and fill the gap proactively. As the implicit assumption is that you want popularity as early as possible, all kinds of activities need to be executed in parallel.
- Budget (time, and money)
- Time bound planning of what to achieve
- Content audit
- Search console
- Google Trends
- Platform specific analytical tools
- Competitor analysis
- Metadata SEO
- Technical content quality
- Proactive interaction
Kaise karana hai – assisted excellence
This is a specific idea based upon the “applied knowledge” concept. Best used in horizontal domains like Finance, HR, Marketing, Procurement, etc.
Find the most common use cases for each field and create content where the final output is the desired business outcome.
If this is being done on a large scale, a separate place (channel, group, etc.) for each field is needed. Mixing content across domains of knowledge only dilutes the content and confuses the audience.
In this type of content creation, user feedback is like a case study. Encourage viewers to participate and provide tangible feedback about how the process benefited them. Each comment can potentially be a mini-case-study.
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