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The secret of reliably great content: Blog like a crime reporter

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

This post is by SmartBrief’s James daSilva.

Social-media is about sharing, connections and finding new opportunities through a wider web of knowledge, contacts and content. But what makes great content? If we can’t recognize and create great content, or listen to what our audiences respond to, how can we truly master social media?

First, we have to disregard the alluring anomalies — those YouTube videos of cats, Hitler’s pop-culture rants and other Internet memes. Those are one-offs, strokes of luck that rarely offer us guidance on establishing a content presence and reputation.

Great content is more often focused, concise and consistent, and the best content gives people a takeaway that they want to tell others about. Right now, you might be thinking, “I know all this.” But are you sure you’re practicing these tenets?

Let’s step back and look at an old-school device: the police blotter. Many newspapers have de-emphasized it, yet these short crime-related items are consistently among the most read, most talked-about stories in print and online. Of course, the blotter is hardly a creative offering, but it would be wise to consider these blotter qualities and adapt them to your own work:

  • It’s focused. The blotter is about local crime. There is no confusion and no wanderings. What the reader wants is the only thing you can offer.
  • It’s concise. Even the wordiest blotter gives you the facts and moves on. Readers get a lot of information quickly and without clutter.
  • It’s consistent. It’s regular, and therefore can become a habit for readers.
  • It offers a takeaway. People learn about crime in their neighborhoods, which is always a serious concern. They may not change their behaviors, but they may be more aware of their surroundings. They might also get amusing anecdotes or gossip about someone they know. These are all impulses to share the content and to rely on it.

Now look at your content. Assuming you blog, tweet, create videos, podcast or otherwise distribute your brand, what gets the best response? Is it the stuff your creative team loved most? Is it the flashy, expensive, superlative-seeking campaign? Or is it the nuts and bolts, perfunctory content that explains who and what you are?

What ties together the content that gets the best responses? If those offerings are few and far between, maybe you’re relying on one-offs, or maybe you’ve just got too much filler. Either way, you may need a content editor to determine that focus and then work to keep everyone glued to it.

One last note: None of this prevents off-topic content, which can extend your brand and show off your personality. Off-topic content can draw in newbies, while challenging the notions of people who’ve seen and dismissed you. The best off-topic content still provides a cyclical takeaway – driving your audience back to your content and encouraging them to spread it to others.

Image credit, pavlen, via iStock