What is it with social?

11 February 2015

Can someone please tell me when digital content became all about ‘social’?

I get that ‘social’ is an important part of any content strategy, but surely there’s more? Aren’t well written, informative ‘content’ pages still vital parts of any good online presence?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of ‘social’. This is a blog, after all. I tweet. I’m also quite the Facebooker – and not just selfies and food shots. To be honest most of my Facebook activity of late has been sharing my wedding photos with my friends and family.

So yes, I would be last person to claim that social media has no place in an online strategy. I’m just a bit concerned that we’re all getting so excited about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the gang that we forget to build quality websites. Shouting our message out to the world via the various social channels is great, but what happens when people follow our shout back to our site?

If we don’t give that site and its content as much love, care and attention as we do our Pinterest pages, then we’re not going to have a very pleasant ‘social’ life. Our websites are still the faces of our companies.  If they are badly written or hard to navigate, no amount of good social media will make up for the negative impression our site gives our visitors

OK, you may say I am just a bitter ‘old style’ content writer, not coping with the transition to the ‘new wave’, and you may have a point. I have been writing content for websites for a long time.

But here’s the thing. People haven’t changed that much. We still use websites in very much the same way as we did before social media came on the scene.  We research the products and services a company provides, we look up contact details, we try to find the right process to access a service from our local government or the tax office. All of this is content.

True, we might also jump on Twitter or a consumer blog to see what people have said about that company or agency. But if a company has clear, concise and straight forward content that is open and provides the site visitor with all the information they need, this can counter the negative impressions left by not so positive social media comments.

If we, the content writers, do this well, we can go a long way to instil confidence in our site visitors that our company is one they want to transact with.

So where do I see the role of social media vs straight site content? To me a company’s web site and its content make up the ‘face’ of the company. Websites are how companies present themselves, and their products and services, to the public. Websites are the modern shop-fronts.

A company’s website is the one place where that company can control its online presence.

And social media? Not so much in the company’s control.

Social media has a number of roles to play. All of those roles have one thing in common – customer control. Social media is where a company can start or finish a conversation, they can’t control it.

Used well, social media can be many things. An effective channel to the call centre, a powerful tool to build and leverage brand ambassadors or an easy way to garner customer feedback and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.

Social media definitely has a place at the table of your content strategy, but I still believe that without quality content on your site, social media will only attract unwanted attention.