How To Create a Social Network Content Strategy: ConFab 2011

How To Create a Social Network Content Strategy: ConFab 2011

Social Network Content Strategy

Session description: Learn how to plan for a social networking project, why much of the advice social media gurus provide is wrong, how to select an appropriate toolset for the job, how to automatically populate your social networks and online communities with traceable content and make actionable business decisions about your efforts based on metrics, not psychic power.

Speaker: Scott Abel, a.k.a The Content Wrangler

Quotes are direct quotes. Everything else is paraphrased.

The skinny

I picked this session because there was a lot of ranting just in the session description (what you read above is the non-ranty part). Scott told me he usually offends about half the room, so I’m looking forward to this one.

What he said

Scott admits he is a vain main, and he has helpfully labeled all slides that should be tweeted, “Tweet this!”

Tweet this! “Content is a business asset worthy of being managed efficiently and effectively.”

Tweet this! “To manage content effectively you must break down silo walls.”

Tweet this! “To manage content you have to streamline processes and reduce reliance on manual labor.”

Why? We want friends. We want fans. We want followers. We want connections. But no matter what, in order to succeed, you have to have audience. To develop audience, you have to get their attention, and maintain it. It’s about manipulating humans.

Tweet this! “Social networking aims to manipulate humans for maximum return on investment.”

How do we attract and maintain an audience?

You could publish original content. Consider I’d Rather Be Writing, a blog about technical communication, with great, accurate, frequent original content. But there’s a big obstacle: time. You have to find ways to save time:

  • Fire clients who are wasting your time.
  • Quit playing games. “I don’t know what you people and your goats are doing all the time, but you’re driving me nuts!”
  • “Spot and stop time-sucking tasks.” Most of these are related to email. Email is a tool. When you use it inappropriately, you waste time. Ever tried to organize a meeting by email? Use a tool like Doodle instead. Unsubscribe from newsletters! Try
  • Don’t get sucked in. “Whatever your pet peeve is, get the frick over it.” Why are you correcting a slideshow that’s over? If there’s an error in a Tweet, who cares? “Once it’s out, it’s out, and it doesn’t stop people from reading it.”
  • Content curation.

Museums as a metaphor for content strategy

“Curation is the solution to helping develop audience because it allows you to assemble little pieces of content that allow you to assemble an exhibit.” Imagine a real museum: curators have a variety of sources (catalogs, friends, etc.) and a variety of content types (painting, sculptures, etc.).

Think of your Twitter stream as a content exhibit, designed as to attract people, and then you don’t have to worry so much about making the content. “All this navel-gazing of talking only about ourselves, that doesn’t attract an audience.” Have a mix of content types: stats, links, offers, photos, graphics, tweets, quotes, videos, humor.

We want to move people to action. We can make them aware on Facebook. Facebook didn’t create the movements in Egypt, but they helped make people aware of the movement. You have to make people angry, make them laugh, make them really laugh, speak to their language, make them proud, make them curious, make them act… all of this is to make them anticipate what you do next. “I have learned that if I fail to update my Page, people think something is wrong.” Make them want more.

This helps you maintain an audience.

Social media content curation steps

  1. Combine sources into a single RSS news feed in Google Reader. Primary sources are original sources of information about a topic, and secondary sources, who cite, comment on or build upon information provided by primary sources. For your sources, set up a Google Reader account and add subscriptions—add blogs, Twitter feeds, newsletters you unsubscribed from.
  2. Content curator selects content to share. Read your feed. Then click the button in Google Reader called “Share.”
  3. Use a tool to feed your shared content to delivery engine. Each time that you click “Share” in Google Reader, it joins another RSS feed. Use a tool like (currently free) to add this “Shared” RSS feed, which will deliver the content to destination you set up.
  4. Create rules applied to shared content. allows you to set up tabs that will ask you where and how frequently you want to update your shared content.
  5. Content delivered to social networks automatically.This is a huge time saver. This is why to use a tool like Automation helps you not miss people; who cares if only two people read what you posted on LinkedIn? That’s where they read your content.
  6. Shared content has metrics we can act upon. Drill down into to find out how many people read when. Right now we’re still working in silos: the white paper creator who white paper I shared doesn’t know that I shared it, or at least not in the tool that he used to create the white paper. That’s going to change. Expect to see content creation tools pulling metrics back so you can make wiser decisions about it.

Audience participation

What happens when you set up this automated process, and then someone replies to you? Sure, I’m just broadcasting on Twitter. I’m really bad about the back-and-forth on Twitter. I treat Facebook as 100% about conversation. I instigate on purpose. Why? Because they expect a higher level of discourse from me on Facebook. I know this because I know my audience. If it’s a corporate thing, though, I think you need an online community manager to have those conversations.

I’m curious about the context of your use of the Google Reader and Is that something you’re doing for your own personal distribution, or are you doing it for a bunch of clients? My company and brand is The Content Wrangler, so anything that interests me at all, I use this system. But I do have clients that I also advise. Because my clients are global, their tweets have to be more internationalized, written in simplified English that’s easier for Google to translate, that get published at different times. So these services help me distribute messages at different times.

How many hours a day do you spend managing this process? About 20 minutes a day. I used to spend 6-8 hours.

How much time do you spend commenting on other people’s blogs or posts? “Minuscule amount because I’m a narcissist.” No, really, I purposely set aside time at conferences or on the weekend to comment on the content of others. I make most of my contacts on Facebook. As long as people think Facebook is for stupid people, I can keep making contacts there. “Facebook is a content shopping mall. People look at stuff all day long there. They have 650,000,000 accounts. Even if they only have 4,000,000, that’s a big-ass mall! You want to go where the audience already is.”

Arienne Holland

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.