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October 20, 2011

Finding Your Content Comfort Zone

October 20, 2011

I've heard this echoed a thousand times: don't tweet about food. Funny thing, though. Many of my personal tweets about food get an enthusiastic response. In recent months, my most @replied tweet was about meat loaf. Seriously. Part of it is that I've connected with other food lovers and so a food tweet is very at home in my twitter stream.

Creating Content for Your BrandAfter offering consulting for a wide variety of brands, I can definitely say that each client and audience is unique and different. When thinking about new content for your brand, forget any generalities you've heard like 'don't post about this, don't tweet that.' What is okay for the casual swimming pool company, might not be kosher for the addiction treatment center.

Take this pineapple picture we posted to the official SmallBox business facebook page as example. It may not tell you that we offer amazing web design and marketing services, but it does provide a feel for our culture and let you know that we like to have fun. For SmallBox, there's value in this type of message because we've decided we want to let people in – to see our space and get to know our team a bit. If you have a more buttoned-up, corporate culture, this type of post might not work for you.


So, how do you decide what's acceptable for your brand?

Define Your Brand Tone
To determine what is acceptable, start simply by establishing your ideal brand voice. What words best describe the vibe you want to share with your audience? Pick 5 words, or more if you need them.

For SmallBox, we define our ideal tonality like this:
Knowledgeable, Bright, Community-Minded, Approachable, Witty, Personable, Creative, Fun. Sometimes cheeky. We joke, we give shoe-fives.

All content we create is filtered through this lens. In a way, this is just who we are, but it's also well thought-out. With multiple personalities creating content for SmallBox, having this general direction clearly defined is critical.

Build a Team Who Gets It
As Jeb refers to in his digital brand ecosystem, HR is marketing. Hire and train a team that gets your culture and brand voice and can run with it. Having a tuned-in team that just 'gets it' lessens the need for strict guidelines or micro-managing oversight of all of your content creation.

Create Your Content Comfort Zone
What if your team needs more guidance? Your might find you need to spell out what's black and white, and whether you're comfortable in the gray areas. Let your content creators know if they're allowed to be silly and make jokes. Don't want your official brand twitter to comment on last night's tv show or celebrity gossip? Say so. By providing specific examples of the types of content you want, and what you don't, you've given your team the confidence to create within your framework.

Detailed content guidelines can be a considerable time investment up front, but really digging in to find your content comfort zone will make your future content creation easier and more focused. Add in a solid content strategy with your business goals, defined target audiences, an editorial calendar and more and you'll really be set up to succeed in creating great content.

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