TITLES. Titles. titles.
Titles associated with online content generally fall into 1 of 3 camps: enticing, search aligned, and space-fillers. Be clear how you’re positioning your titles in the first two instances and avoid the latter.
1. Titles Designed to Entice
Hardcopy magazine covers are filled with attention-grabbing article titles which span the bizarre, mysterious, unbelievable, shocking, sexy and tragic. These are well thought-out hooks designed to lift casual interest to high interest and onto a purchase. The effective cross-promotion of digital content via social media draws upon the link-worthiness of the display titles. At the extreme, the super-clickable titles we call ‘link-bait’ often lead people to content that doesn’t live up to the promise; but even genuinely great content needs every attention leg-up it can get.
To increase the readership of your business content it should be cross-promoted through your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ (and possibly Facebook) channels. But your content won’t be consumed within those channels, only linked to from them. Your title link text – in parallel with your content titles – should therefore be crafted as inbuilt calls-to action or enticements. They must be attention-grabbing enough to entice your followers, connections or fans to click away from the social space they’re in, and across to your website, blog, video or PDF download. Flat titles are seldom asked to dance.
2. Titles Designed to be Found
Titles designed to be found are constructed differently. Search-friendly titles are aligned with the keywords a person would logically use when searching for specific information via a search engine behemoth such as Google or the internal search engine of any social media or publishing platform. The objective is to make your article, blog post, webpage, video, image or PDF findable when people search. A lack of keyword alignment on your content titles assigns your content to the digital backwaters – no matter how valuable it would have been to the people who were searching for it, had they found it.
Keyword alignment is still the cornerstone of search engine optimisation (SEO): titles, sub-titles and other textual content which has a close keyword structure to the search patterns of your target audiences. Titles which incorporate grammatical devices such as irony, humour or double entendres fare poorly in organic search. A grammatically clever title may impress a reader, but if a person can’t find it in the first place it will never be read at all (the same existential angst a falling tree in a lonely forest endures).
3. Titles Not Designed at All
Space-fillers – titles added because titles were required. Neither alluring nor lending search utility they are like forgotten books which gather dust on a secondhand bookstore shelf. Business level videos on YouTube suffer this fate especially.
Three Possible Titles for this Blog Post
1. ‘Have you ever seen a man eat his own head?’ (designed to entice).
2. ‘Using keywords in page titles to maximise the search visibility of online content’ (designed to be found).
3. ‘Blog post #49 – content marketing ideas’ (not designed at all).
Have I ever seen a man eat his own head? No, but that’s not the point.
image by Eduard Gimenez
Whilst it makes sense to first define your social media involvement according to your organisational objectives, a secondary and often overlooked consideration is your ability to source, produce and manage the distribution of digital content. Here are half-a-dozen content driven frameworks to consider as part of your obligation to keep your online garden-places relevant, fresh and engaging:
Each social media platform where you’ve staked a brand claim requires one or more specific media formats to be published through it. YouTube for example requires video content – if you don’t have the ability to source or produce video you probably shouldn’t set up a presence there. There are five main categories of media formats, and every social media platform requires at least one or two of them:
- Text – short-form, e.g. status updates on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn
- Text – long-form, e.g. blogs
- Images, e.g. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
- Video, e.g. YouTube, Vine
- Audio, e.g. podcasts
Knowing clearly which content is required to drive each of your social media vehicles is one thing, getting your hands on it is another. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself:
1. Do I have access to subject matter expertise? You may be the social media manager, but the value of any content is defined by the end users its being targeted to. Engineers for example will need credible content produced in most part by other engineers. You will need the means to tap into the expertise of a wide range of people across other departments within your organisation: finance, operations, sales, contact centre, and even the CEO.
2. Will my content be original or will I curate other people’s content, or both? Producing your own content in-house is the ideal, but its not always achievable. Curating or filtering the best industry specific content of others can also provide value to your target audience.
3. Can I pay others to produce content on my behalf? Yes, content production can be outsourced to subject matter experts, but you’ll need a budget allocation.
Content Capture and Production
Physically capturing and producing content is the next hurdle. If you wanted to produce a series of ‘how-to’ videos to feed through your YouTube channel and Facebook page, would you film these yourself or outsource the task to a professional videographer? Outsourcing can be expensive in the long-term if the content requirement is ongoing (as it surely will be). If you are producing in-house you’ll need to be able to write well and/or have access to AV equipment, and then the requisite skills to record and edit at acceptable quality levels.
Posting, Pre-Scheduling, Cross-Promotion and Re-Purposing
Okay, so now that you have your content together you’ll need to get it published it online through one or more of your social media platforms. Smallish amounts of content are easily uploaded as they come to hand, but larger volumes will require a publishing schedule and likely the use of pre-scheduling software such as Hootsuite.
To maximise the reach of your content you’ll want to cross-promote it or syndicate it across your different platforms. Your YouTube videos for example may be cross-posted through Facebook, Google+ and your blog; your blog posts may be cross-posted through LinkedIn; your Instagram photos may be cross-posted through Pinterest. Or your Twitter stream may be automatically syndicated into your blog.
All of your content should also be viewed with the potential for repurpose. The hard work which has gone into a blog post for example could be the outline of the script for a YouTube video.
Your social content has been posted, corss-posted and syndicated. But don’t sit back just yet – Facebook, YouTube, and your blog all require you to moderate comments in response to your posts. And most social media platforms allow (and encourage) comments and questions – timely and considered responses on your part are required.
The content creation and publication processes described above never let up. By entering social media you’re setting yourself up as a media outlet akin the modern newspapers, radio and television stations – and there’s nothing worse than dead air or white space when it comes to the media, your media or anyone’s media.
image by atmtx