People, Not Logos

The process of developing a social media strategy echoes many of the steps and concepts that are integral to developing a content strategy. Throughout the process, content strategists must keep in mind the audience, the user, or the consumer. From start to finish, people are what drive the necessity of a content strategy, and people are what keep a social media strategy going.

Mirroring this people-oriented approach, a successful content strategy should make the business or company appear as a human-like, or person-like entity. Below are two examples of what I mean:

Engage in Real Interactions

“Lana Bandoim writes, “Social media engagement is often defined as the real interactions that happen on these networks.” She points out that social media engagement relies on daily interactions among users to survive. While autoposting tools are one way to communicate, more businesses are beginning to understand that engaging with their audiences in real conversations will bring them better results and add more value to their social streams.

Be available to your audience in real time, when you have have more meaningful back-and-forth conversations.”

How Will You Be Human

“‘Social media is about people, not logos.’

The mechanics of social force companies to compete for attention versus your customer’s friends and family members. Thus, your company has to (at least to some degree) act like a person, not an entity.”

The first example illustrates the point that real (human) interactions are an essential part of a social media strategy. It’s impossible to curate content, schedule posts, and let social media go, hoping that it will work toward the goals of one’s business or company. It will always be necessary to have a person monitor and respond to how people are interacting with content on social media.

The second example is what I want to focus on while discussing social media strategy, the understanding that an entire company must be a fully realized being that people can interact with as such.

In Know Thyself, I write about how an organization must know who they are and what they stand for when developing a content strategy. This idea precedes and feeds into the idea that a company must “act like a person, not an entity.” Since content strategy is born of a need to engage users and consumers, the resulting product must have the capacity to interact with users and consumers, not just as content but as a representative of a business or company in a relatable form. These social media strategy authors make an argument that this relatable form must somewhat resemble a human or a person, sometimes a character of sorts. I agree.

Other social media strategy tips include how to make social media content more relatable, that content should show the passion and the voice of a company. These characteristics can be described as such for a company, making it a character in itself.

Reality & Discovery

My concept of content strategy before reading Halvorson and Rach’s “Content Strategy for the Web” didn’t really include the future. For some reason, my focus when considering content for the social media sites that I help out with was really short-sighted.

I thought about the events coming up the next week, and maybe a month in advance. Their definition of content strategy considers the big picture of an organization much more than my own uninformed definition. Theirs is worth adopting.

Content strategy should guide one’s plans for creation, delivery, and governance of the content. This means that a strategy will set direction for the future. In short, I hadn’t been thinking about strategizing and was focusing mainly on content for the user. Halvorson and Rach list what content strategy is NOT, and I’m guilty of thinking that it was at least a couple of these things:

  • Social media accounts (see above)
  • Blog posts
  • Educational articles
  • Online knowledge bases

Not to say that these things can’t be some of the channels that are part of an organization’s content strategy, but they will never be enough alone.

My previous approach to thinking about and developing a content strategy also reflects some of the obstacles that Halvorson and Rach attribute to why bad content is not turned into better content.

I don’t view content as a commodity, and certainly, it should be engaging to users and answer their questions or motivate them to act. The obstacle to good content that I would likely create, should I ever become a content strategist, is racing right past strategy and into execution. I would like to blame my enthusiasm for getting things done, or the pressure to deliver, as they write in Chapter 2.

Reasons not to rush past planning include the following:

  • No one who matters will know what you’re doing.
  • You won’t know what you’re doing.
  • Your content will suffer.
  • You will suffer.

Though I know in my core that the planning phase is critical to a successful project, I usually just want to get started on rolling out the emails and creating things.

Halvorson and Rach emphasize the importance of getting stakeholders on board with your project right from the start. Identifying people by how they will impact your project will have a significant impact on how you complete it. It’s also important to spin a compelling story about the necessity of a content strategy to them once you know who they are. Halvorson and Rauch dedicate an entire chapter to this initial stage called “Alignment,” that starts in the discovery process and continues throughout the project. It’s not linear, but a circular cycle in which the content strategist marathons.

Halvorson, Kristina. & Rach, Melissa. (2012). Content Strategy for the Web. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.