Tag Archives: content marketing

Yes, council communicators should think like ‘content marketers’

Chalkboard with "What's Your Story?" written on itWith a background in journalism and now public relations, the concept of content marketing is one that I am really interested in.

I don’t count myself as a ‘marketer’ but for me, content marketing is all about telling stories that are relevant to your brand/organisation, in a way which is useful and interesting to your target audience/stakeholders. That’s very much what I love to do.

Basically, you tell interesting stories, people read them.

Simple!

As council communicators we have a never ending supply of interesting and informative stories to tell which the people we wish to communicate with (our residents, mainly) are likely to find interesting and useful.

If you don’t believe me, or you’re short of inspiration then this list of inspiration for blog posts from Ragan.com can be very much applied to our work as council comms people and should generate more ideas than you could ever possibly hope for!

I like to think that we’ve reached a point where the vast majority of councils are embracing social media, but now it’s time to take that to the next level. It’s not enough just to tweet out links to media releases. We should be thinking like journalists within our organisation and telling our stories in the most compelling, interesting and relevant way we can.

Social media has allowed us to talk directly to the people we want to talk to. So let’s not bore them, nag them or fob them off with council speak or media releases that weren’t written for them. Let’s grab their attention, hold their interest and give them something which is genuinely entertaining and useful. Believe me, it’s the future.

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A cautionary tale

This really interesting article from The Guardian was doing the rounds on social media this weekend: ‘Overnight, everything I loved was gone’: the internet shaming of Lindsey Stone.

It demonstrates how easily your internet life can be hijacked, sometimes after a single tweet posted by you or others, and how that can have potentially disastrous repercussions for your offline life.

If I were a teacher or parent of teenagers, I’d urge them to read this article. In fact I’m sure we all could benefit from taking a moment to consider what lessons we can learn from this. The fact is that the throwaway comments or ‘in jokes’ you might safely share with people you know offline can take a whole new meaning when typed out and shared with the world online. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But the internet can be a very unforgiving place.

It also reiterates the importance of brand building, not just for companies, but for people too. And once you’ve built that brand, you need to look after and protect it. As the article sadly demonstrates, sometimes your reputation can be rubbished online in a very short space of time, and through no fault of your own. But there are also plenty of silly mistakes you can learn to avoid.

I was fascinated to read about how Lindsey Stone was being helped to repair her online reputation with the aid of content creation, designed to fool search engines into pushing the results about her earlier misdemeanour further down the rankings. And it worked – but it requires an ongoing concerted effort with content being churned out to keep repressing those stories from two years ago.

None of us wants to be in the position that Lindsey finds herself in, and I hope that she is able to genuinely move on and stop living in fear of one past mistake constantly resurfacing. For her sake and for all those other women who share her name!

But certainly I would urge you to read this article, and bear in mind what lessons we – both as individuals and as guardians of brands online –  need to learn.

4 best links of the week

Here are 4 of the best things I’ve read this week – hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Five challenges for student union comms – A really interesting piece by Jo Walters, Digital Engagement Manager at the University of Sussex Students Union, on the brilliant Comms2Point0 blog. She makes the point that today’s students are a very different breed to the stereotype we might have in our minds – or even to the kind of students we were not that long ago. With the rise of smartphones and social media, long gone are the days when a poster in the Student Union was the main form of communication…

Five things businesses need to know about Facebook’s save feature – I love the fact that Facebook finally offer the chance for users to ‘save’ relevant links that pop in their newsfeed to read later. I’m going to use it a lot – but it’s also a good thing for Facebook page managers. In this post, author Mari Smith makes some really good points about how we might want to consider adapting our content as a result – she suggests more posts with links (which can be saved), for example. As this post rightly points out, Facebook is not currently offering any analytics on the save feature – so page managers will not know how many times their content has been saved for later. I think that would be a really useful thing to know – so hopefully Facebook will think about introducing that in coming months.

Why Content marketing fails – A really humorous guide to content marketing by Rand Fishkin. Very entertaining but also packed with advice. I’d recommend showing this to anybody who ‘doesn’t get’ content marketing yet – but even for those who already live and breathe it there are some tips and advice which will help you ‘fail’ less!

Why increased visibility on Twitter is just a few tweaks away – While a lot of the advice in this post by Sprout Social is basic stuff, it’s good to go back to basics once in a while and make sure you’re still getting the fundamentals right. The advice on using no more than 2 hashtags per tweet actually made me realise my organisation should be using them more – hashtags are something we probably don’t make enough of at the moment (but we will keep it to no more than two when we do!) I was also interested to read that the majority of users prefer it when you capitalise the first letter of every word in your tweet – something that I personally dislike… not sure I can bring myself to do this?!?