Have you experienced trouble with the social media side of your content marketing? Are you worried that you can’t maintain controls over the content produced under your company’s banner? Does the thought of using blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, or other forms of online conversation starters strike fear in your heart?
Not every content marketer is comfortable with all the media we have to deal with these days. This is partly due to the fact that we all want to maintain control of our content, which isn’t always possible. So how about settling for some assurance instead? Quality assurance, that is.
The American Society for Quality defines quality assurance as: The planned and systematic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled.
In content marketing, this means creating a system to help create quality content each and every time. Of course, even the best-laid content marketing plans can go awry for one reason or another. But having a quality assurance program integrated into your plan will help minimize those occasions and enable you to feel comfortable with your content, no matter where it appears across the web.
Things you should do
Do have a plan. Every article you’ve ever read about creating content includes a reference to planning in some fashion — such as creating an editorial calendar or creating a checklist. Though this advice may sound like a broken record, advanced planning really is the one key step content creators can take to help assure quality. Nothing scuttles a content marketing program faster than not knowing the best time and place to publish your content on the right channel, or not knowing the steps you’ll need to take beforehand to get it done properly.
Do train your team. Make sure everyone on your content-producing team (internal and external) understands your organization’s goals and the required procedures involved in your content marketing program. For example, provide them with a style guide; teach those who manage your real-time communications (e.g., Twitter or Facebook) what your company considers appropriate and inappropriate for posts; and outline your criteria for escalating any concerns about posts or replies to a supervisor. You need to trust that your team knows your corporate story and can use their best judgment to share it, so providing adequate training is the best way to ensure that they are producing timely, relevant, and valuable content on your company’s behalf.
Do designate a media monitor. Assign specific team members to monitor all mentions of your company online. Whether you use your own monitoring system or one of the popular tools on the market, it is vital to keep on top of these conversations wherever they are occurring. Designated team members will be able to track mentions and keep tabs on customer sentiment on a regular basis, so you will know how to respond in a timely manner, and important conversations won’t fall through the cracks.
Things you should NOT do
Don’t “drive angry.” When someone out there says something that puts your company in a bad light, don’t respond right away. The natural response to being punched is to punch right back. It can feel like every second you leave a bad comment out there is a lost opportunity to right the situation. While this is partly true, it’s also true that replying immediately but inappropriately can make the situation worse. Slow down, take a deep breath, and lean on your style guide and content rules to ensure that your response produces a good outcome.
Don’t mumble. Unless your blog is about creative writing or something similar, use simple language and avoid jargon, which can muddy the message. Even if your team members use business-speak in their daily work lives, take a step back to think about the meanings of the words you use and how they will be understood by your audience. Writing content that is full of jargon and esoteric language is like mumbling to your readers: They may not fully understand what you are trying to communicate. Creating content that is useful and readable is a key component of a quality assurance system.
Don’t SEO just to SEO. Keywords are critical to search engine optimization, and of course you want to make sure to include them whenever possible in all your content — not just the social media kind. But you want to make sure you do it organically. We all know bad SEO content when we read it, and we dislike it because it is difficult to understand. Plus, it feels a bit like the author deceived you to get you to read the content under false pretenses. Monitoring your use of keywords will help ensure your content is top-notch and gets appreciated for the value it provides — not just because it was easy to find.
I hope these dos and don’ts help you improve the quality of the social media content you create. What other rules do you follow for quality assurance for your social media content?
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