Sorry to break it to you, but you’re all writers now. With the Twitbooks and the Facetubes, we all have the opportunity to demonstrate expertise and build our networks while remaining at all times no more than two clicks away from a video of a kitten sneezing. Whether you’re publishing on your own behalf, or have been tasked with building up an online presence for your organization, it can be daunting to look at an empty post field.
One of the questions I get most frequently as a digital media consultant is “but what do I have that I can share?” The answer is: Probably more than you think.
A couple of bosses ago, my boss took me out to a fancy lunch to talk about how I could add more value to the team. “You know things you don’t even know you know. We need to know those things,” he said over grilled salmon and some kind of pilaf.
You also know things you don’t even know you know. The things you do each day are new and interesting to someone else. So start there – look first at what you’re already doing in real life and doing well. As you get into the habit of publishing and your experience grows, so will your roster of shareable content. Writing is like exercising a muscle, it gets stronger the more you use it.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
Things in real life. Do you say words out loud in front of other people? Perhaps with a PowerPoint or other visual aid? Do you participate in or attend panels, conferences, meetups or webinars? In advance of the event you can say you’re looking forward to it. During the event, you can offer comments or appreciation of other participants, tagging relevant people and organizations. After the event, share an insight (with a photo if you can snap one), a tag and a thank you. Go ahead, tell that keynote you enjoyed the speech. Put the social into social media.
Tips and advice. Show us the things that you know that we might not already know. If you’re a landscaper, tell us when it’s time to cut back the peonies or how and why to deadhead roses. If you’re an accountant, share information about a new regulation that’s going to make us all miserable, or something you overheard at the supermarket that reminded you of financial questions you hear often. Are you in sales? Dash off a quick note about a good service example you saw in the wild. Things like that are a great way to build community and show that you’re always thinking.
Seasonal notes. Is it election time? Swim season? Hedgehog awareness day? The birthday of someone important to you or your organization? Anniversaries of any kind can help you add structure and flesh out your calendar well in advance. National Pancake Day is a thing. There are several online resources a mere Google search away that range from the academic to the deeply silly.
Current events. Things that you find interesting about the local environment or your industry. In general, I advise staying miles away from politics. When choosing your topics, if you wouldn’t bring it up at a business luncheon, give it a miss. Even if people agree with you, they may not wish to see it on your business page. Exceptions expected, of course, if your business actually includes politics or advocacy.
“Sharing is caring.” Follow colleagues, local companies and organizations – comment on their stuff and/or share it on your page with a kind, supportive note if the spirit moves you. This one probably should be higher up because it’s incredibly important to be a giver online, but you’re not the boss of me. And speaking of giving…
Giving back. Are you doing anything to give back to the community? Do you volunteer as an individual or issue grants as an organization? Demonstrating engagement and compassion is humanizing, which is especially important when we’re dealing in pixels.
A couple of fiddly bits: Whenever possible, include an image (specific figures vary, but it’s generally acknowledged that images significantly increase engagement on social media posts, and my own experience has borne this out). Be prepared to respond to folks who comment – and to ignore the haters, unless you can help them with kindness. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open to learn from your colleagues – they can be a tremendous source of both inspiration and cautionary tales. Social media is a two-way street – you give and you get.
Be generous, be kind. And above all, be you. You got this. You know things!