If you are a digital professional, this week’s Friday5 may appear basic. That said, the Friday5 strives to inform communications professionals across the entire spectrum of social media expertise. Today’s post provides an important framework for content sharing and engagement, no matter where you fall on the Social Business continuum.

Content-sharing is a cornerstone feature for most social networks, like Twitter, and it’s always important to consider what the people in your network will find relevant. ”How do you determine this?” you may ask. This week’s Friday5 explores qualities of content that lead to relevant dialogue and engaged communities. Before you share content on a social network, ask yourself: “Does my post (article, image, retweet, etc.) do at least one of the following things?” Traditional PR professionals go through this thought process before they pick up the phone to call a reporter, so why not give your online community of advocates the same level of care?

1. Does it spark interest?

This could be considered basic criteria for sharing any content online, but it is important to test the hypothesis: does this link, photo, status message, etc. bring anything of interest to the table? If the answer is no, don’t proceed. If you aren’t yet sure of what your audience reacts to or is interested in, try content testing. To test content, identify four or five areas of interest, share articles from each and carefully monitor and compare your audience’s levels of engagement (which may include retweets, “likes,” reblogs and/or click-through rate). Once you have tested and documented engagement with content, you can continue to develop a content calendar around your findings. Edelman Digital’s community manager recently shared community management essentials which can provide further information if you are interested.

2. Does it prompt discussion?

Social media is an effective and valuable forum for discussion. Q&As are a common way to “prompt” discussion, but sometimes sharing an article and expressing a desire for reaction may be enough. If your online following is interested in a topic, it’s logical to assume it may want to discuss an article about said topic. Sharing an article is a good first step, but the key to success is fostering a discourse related to that article. You will deepen your audience’s engagement and strengthen your own voice in any given focus area. In a recent post on Edelman Digital, Camilla Ibrahim explores how young activists demonstrate the power of social media-prompted discussion to help shape conversation and shift world events.

3. Does it articulate a unique viewpoint?

A fresh point of view, when shared appropriately and respectfully, can provide value to your audience. A consumer brand may want to shy away from this type of content sharing, but for experts on a topic, it may be valuable in distinguishing your voice online. It is important to understand where detractors are coming from to properly engage in discourse with them in the hopes of changing opinion. A counter argument has the potential to foster a transparent dialogue with your audience and can grow your community of engaged advocates. Caution should be exercised to ensure no offensive or disparaging content is shared. A community manager should be prepared to engage in healthy commentary, but not hostile conversation, regarding diverse points of view on any given topic from packaged goods to politics.

4. Is it designed to be shared and re-shared?

Consider your audience. If you position yourself online as a healthy lifestyle brand, fans and followers will likely respond well to content that adds value to a conversation on that topic that provides information not previously known. Conversely, your community can provide quality content for you to share with your audience. Online communities, just like any other, are based on trust; by sharing content from within your community, you can grow trust and strengthen the overall community. Advocating for one another within a network by re-posting, re-tweeting, re-blogging fosters authority and credibility for both parties. Sharing the content of your followers or fans builds relationships, but also makes your content more diverse, valuable and interesting.

5. Does it provide a clear, concise and accurate analysis?

New followers and fans have already accepted you into their online community, their living rooms and offices, but that alone doesn’t guarantee they will continue to engage with you. As the editor of your social network’s content output, you must continually provide clear, concise and accurate information. Whether growing your community from the ground up, or maintaining tens of thousands of community members, it is important that you share easily digestible content. Knowing your audience and understanding its level of knowledge on any topic can help you discern between content that is clear and concise versus pretentious, boring or inaccurate.

What tips do you have on content sharing?

Image Credit: Andrés Antonio

 

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