by Michael O'Neill
February 10th, 2014

Social media content only works if it is:

- On brand
- Of interest to your customers
- High quality

Otherwise why bother? Let’s look at these three golden rules more closely.

1. On brand

The key to a great content strategy is finding the intersection between your brand and the passions of your customers.

ESPN is about sports, but so is Nike. People use Nike apps for exercise. They read Nike tips on running. And, yes, they end up buying Nike sneakers to run in. Nike understands the passions of their customers. They provide it and customers eat it up. Why? Because it is what Nike’s customers expect Nike to be talking about.

This is the same for every brand – from back-end technology providers to pizza restaurants. So a clothing retailer can engage with their fans about fashion. A food company about barbecuing. An outfitter on climbing mountains. And so on.

Being on brand also means the content has the voice and appearance of the overall brand. No one expects a bank to write in slang with all capital letters on its Twitter account. In fact, it would be shockingly odd.

2. Of interest to your customers

Brands get in trouble when they wander off the reservation. Likely no one cares what a software company thinks about the latest baseball trade. Likewise few people want financial planning advice from a company that makes cleaning products. Brands should stick to their knitting. Focus on what they know and what their customers expect them to know.

Brands should also avoid being boring. Posting “Happy Fourth of July” isn’t content that many fans and followers want from a corporation. However, “Happy Fourth of July – here are our three favorite grilling recipes for the holiday” would be valuable from a brand that sells barbecue grills.

To be interesting you need to provide value.

3. It’s high-quality

Shooting a 10-minute Q&A video of your vice-president of sales on your iPhone might provide value to him, but few people are going to want to watch it. Why would they?

Social media isn’t about adverting. It’s about building a stronger relationships with your customers.

So don’t short change your customers by giving them crap.

George F. Snell III is senior vice-president, digital & social communications, at Weber Shandwick Boston.

This article first appeared on Snell’s blog High Talk

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