Is Good Content Still Enough to Stand Out on Social Media?

Content is king! This has become the mantra of social media, especially bloggers. As long as you have good content, they will come. Saying otherwise is blasphemy, heresy!

And yet, a brave few souls are daring to challenge this. They whisper in dark corners that there is a new king in town.

The king is dead, long live the king!

Good content is still a staple of any web or social media presence. But (there’s always a but isn’t there?) it is no longer enough!

The fact is that we are now inundated with content from every possible source. Did you know there is actually a game called Googlewhacking? The goal of the game is this: find that elusive query (using two words – no quote marks) with a single, solitary result! Sounds easy? Try it and let me know.

The point is that we are now in information overload. If you are like most public service organisations (PSO), you likely have a series of websites overflowing with information. So much information that you probably don’t even try to find any single piece anymore because it is easier to just Google it that actually trying to find it by yourself on your own site!

So, taking that information and just regurgitating it on your social media channels is at best a feeble attempt to breathe life back into your website. At worst, it is a huge waste of time and resources and will not, I repeat will not get you the results that social media promises. So what will?

  • This is where new king comes into play in a big way: Context!

Your new mission, should you choose to accept it, is to provide much needed context for your organization’s content. In a nutshell, it means using your social media channels to provide that “What does this mean for me?” element that will provide the critical value that your audience needs.

For example, say your web site has a 10 screen long post on the new regulation surrounding the use of the new industry whatchamacallit. You want to let businesses know about this new regulation that affects them.

Here is what you are NOT going to do:

Tweet like this: The new whatchamacallit regulation is out. You can read the whole boring thing here: (link to the 10 screen long mind numbing content piece that would put even a toddler hyped up on chocolate to sleep).

Here is what you could do:

  1. Write a blog post explaining the 5 biggest impacts of the new regulations for businesses using the whatchamacallit.

  2. Write up 5 tweets, one for each of the 5 impacts, along the lines of: Did you know you now have to use a 5 ounce whatchamacallit in your production line?

  3. Prepare a Facebook post that points to the blog post and to the new regulation for those who want to read the whole thing.

There are of course a million variations to this but the basics remain the same: putting your content into context for your audience. Public service organizations need to let their audiences know why their content should matter to them.

Good content + great context = social media success for PSOs

If you can do this, its mission accomplished!

P.S. This blog post will self-destruct if you do not share it within the next half-hour (or whenever you feel like it, no pressure!)

Alain Lemay is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Lisa Roepe

Great ideas to giving context to complex information and making content more valuable to readers/consumers. I think content is still king, provided that content helps the reader/consumer feel smarter and more informed.

Hope Horner

Love this! Considering the audience whether you are writing, tweeting, blogging or speaking is CRITICAL! They are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” As a government official I spend a lot of time re-working stuff that “sounds pretty” but as you put it – could put a “toddler hopped up on chocolate to sleep.” Love your sense of humor and the practicality of this blog. Thanks for sharing!

Alain Lemay

Lisa, Hope, thanks for the comments. They are much appreciated. It is always nice to see we are not alone in facing these challenges and I certainly do not profess to having all of the answers which is why I really love it when other professionals take the time to comment and share their views and experiences.

Chaeny Emanavin

Excellent points. In your opinion is “timeliness” a factor or is it part of context?

For example, my bureau tends to release new tweets and FB posts when the public affairs people are done reviewing. There is very little attention to what is going on in the world, unless it relates to something like a White House presser.

Is it better to “wait” on certain tweets until something happens in the news to make it more timely? Would you just release whenever and retweet if some event happens that relates? Just curious.

Alain Lemay

Chaeny, I think timeliness is absolutely an element of context. If you are mandated to release information on taxes for example, that information will resonate much more strongly around tax time than any other time of the year. If it is “newsworthy” information then it needs to go out while people are still interested in the story. If it is related to a crisis, then get the information out ASAP even if you have to put a special approval process in place because later will likely be too late!

For a planned event, you probably want to get teaser info out before hand to create some promo. Even in the case of official statements, a tweet announcing an important announcement to come can generate a lot of buzz.

Sadly, it is also a well known fact that some PSOs release official statements on Friday at 6 when they know it is likely to get less pick-up from the media.

So to answer your question the best way I can I would say that you should absolutely be monitoring social media and trying to time your tweets, posts, etc in a way that will maximize interest and sharing in whatever message you are trying to get across. It can also help you avoid terrible blunders.

Case in point, I heard an anecdote concerning a PSO that had scheduled tweets for the Boston Marathon. I forget the exact phrasing but it went something like : Good luck to all racers today, hope you kill it at the finish line”. Luckily, they were able to go in and delete those tweets but can you imagine the backlash if these had gotten out? Paying attention to what is happening in the world around you on social media is never time wasted!