Defining, creating, and sharing social content

The job I have today didn't exist five years ago.

The job I have today didn't exist five years ago. But, as I navigate the changes and look for commonalities in the endless hype and proliferation of technologies, I've found that the skills I spent a career honing are as relevant today as they've ever been. 

What moves people hasn't changed, but the formats we use to move them have expanded.

As defender, promoter, and protector of a brand, we are called on to understand how this communications transformation impacts the companies we work for and with. Here are a few observations I've made on my journey through the social Web:

Words matter. An understanding of words and meaning is as critical online as it is off. If you're responsible for drafting content that will make its way online, find a search engine optimization expert and ask them to take a look at your next release. They'll likely have some interesting insight on your content and changes to make that will make your content stand out online. 

Formats change. PRWeek Insider Rob Longert covered a few of the new online tools in his last post. When you begin to use social media, you discover that there are a number of different ways to tell your story. Videos and photos, as well as words, are all at your disposal. If you haven't already, get comfortable with shooting videos and taking photos. It's important to understand the mechanics of each of these new formats and how content is created through them.

People share. The greatest compliment you can receive for your content is if someone shares it. (Like this blog post, for example.) The social Web is an endless sea of connected conversations. And people share the things that interest them. Make your content interesting, brief, and put it in a shareable format on the Web. The more sharable your content, the greater reach for your message.

Content expands. I often see a single piece of content and think that so much more could have been done with it to extend the value beyond what it was originally intended for. When spending time and effort to create a corporate video, for example, think of all of the other forms that content might take. Think about turning the key statistics from the video into an infographic. Have the subject of the video write a blog post on the topic. Condense the theme of the video and use it as a Facebook post. The social Web offers a number of formats that can get lost in the process of creating content for a single purpose. Expand your content to expand the reach of your message.

Just like in traditional channels, competition for attention online is fierce. You have to look at content from many angles and understand what the Web does to it to find new ways to gain attention for your message online.

Brad Mays is SVP of digital strategy and innovation for Fleishman-Hillard. 

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