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This is blog two of a six blog sub-series on the topic of social media strategy, part of the ‘All that PR & Marketing Bollox’  weekly blog series.

When Bill Gates wrote his seminal article, ‘Content is King’ on 1st March 1996, it’ s unlikely he had any idea that, twenty years later, we’d still be talking about it.

Content is everything from a 140 character tweet, to a 5,000 word whitepaper. In today’s marketplace the principal content currency is a blog, broadly defined as a short article or opinion piece that is at least 300 words in length, ideally 500-800 words. However, go-to content formats can also include YouTube Videos, infographics or what are called ‘Listicles’ - short articles based around lists of ideas.

In principle, smart and relevant content is key to engaging your target audience. Its quality will determine whether someone reads the article to the end, or better still, reads the article and then engages further  by sharing it with others.

Enough engagement like this, and you might just find your content of ‘going viral’. We all know the phrase, but in practical terms it is a largely unpredictable phenomenon whereby a piece of content is so compelling that people feel the need to share it en masse with friends and colleagues. Notable examples that spring to mind include ‘twerking’ and ‘Gangnam Style’. It seldom happens in the business world, but when it does it can be huge. For example, Volvo trucks launched a B2B campaign, ‘The Epic Split’, featuring Jean Claude Van Damme, which made waves in B2C circles also.

You have created great content. Now how do you get people to read it?

Social media is the vehicle to amplify content. It’s all about social sharing,or the process of emailing or forwarding content to friends and colleagues through various channels. While manual peer-to-peer sharing like this is still relevant, content is most commonly amplified via “likes,” where a simple click tells those in your network that you “endorse” this content and think it’s worthwhile. This may be less work than sending an email, but it’s more visible to your entire network, which is why it’s so powerful.

Nothing has greater potential to drive unprecedented amounts of traffic to your site than creating a piece of content that is novel and likely to ‘go viral’ through social media. If you look at the small blogs and websites that have had pieces of content go viral—and had their online profiles changed forever as a result— it’s almost never the case that they ‘got lucky’ and set out to create a single piece of viral content and succeeded. More often, they were consistently creating and putting out quality content to begin with, then one of the many things they put out unexpectedly took hold. You will never know for certain when this may happen or what might cause it, but you can be sure if you never put out content, it certainly won’t be happening for you.

If you'd like to find out more about how to approach your social media  strategy, you can read all about it here.

Cool, smart, funny and original content is what is really “king”. Dull, boring, uninteresting and fatuous content will not help anybody and will swiftly disengage you from an audience.

Remember that social sharing only works through the unpaid, unregulated, unmanaged process. It is not a paid-for activity. It is possible to use LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook as paid media channels, but even then, dull or boring content is destined to have a very short half-life.

What’s next?

So, let’s assume you’ve met this content creation requirement and you are regularly creating original content—at a minimum 3 to 5 posts per month— to post on your website or blog. And now you’ve decided that you’re ready to get active on social media, starting from square one.

Here, once again, I think it’s important to address your mindset. If you are the type of person who is reluctant to use social media, or who thinks it’s a waste of time, or not going to bring you meaningful business leads, there’s an important perception shift that needs to happen here. Stop thinking of social media participation as a singular “To Do” list item. Done correctly and consistently, this a much more passive and integrated activity that becomes a seamless part of everything you do. Once this happens, you’ll stop thinking of it as such a chore and start seeing the growth that comes from consistent and honest engagement.

Content reigns supreme…when amplified effectively

I would argue that today, as much as any time since 1996, great content is still key to your success and it is integral in creating any new PR or marketing programme. If you have great content, then you have the highest chance of success in securing media coverage or attracting and converting leads through your website.  The ‘chauffeur’ to your content is your social media activity which drives interest and gets your content seen by the masses.

We will talk more about amplifying your messages across the main social media channels in the next three blogs: Twitter, LinkedIn for B2B and B2C and Facebook/Instagram in B2C.

Tip #14: Before you amplify, you have to create something. Commit to a content creation schedule then drive it forward with your social media strategy.

To learn more about how the power of social media can amplify your media  messaging, don't miss our first blog in the social media series.

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