4 Steps to Generate Creative Social Media Content

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Ever loathe the prospect of blogging, posting a Facebook status, or tweeting? Producing original, interesting, and timely content can be a daunting endeavor for any business; especially with the added weight of compliance issues and regulations. Good news: creative blocks don’t have to inhibit you from improving your social media platforms. If you are part of the vast population suffering from “social media content block,” you’re not alone. Below are a few tips to crack the block and get your creative juices flowing.

1. Talk in Terms of Other People’s Interests: Imagine you’re at a business conference or a social event. You meet a nice peer, Gabby, who seems interesting at first, but proceeds to a) talk endlessly about herself and random topics that bear no significance to you, and b) not ask questions or allow you to chime into the conversation. Would you ever seek Gabby again at another social event? I’m guessing not.

Remember: online relationships are merely extensions of offline relationships. In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie offers six relevant ways for getting people to “like” you and adopt your way of thinking. Although the book was written in 1936, long preceding the birth of social media, it is applicable in our contemporary world of virtual “likes,” “friends,” and “fans.” Why? Because effective human relations skills are crucial to building successful businesses and relationships. Keep these rules in mind while formulating social media strategies:

  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves: Ask for replies, comments, and opinions from your audience.
  • Talk in terms of other peoples’ interest: Keep content interesting and relevant to your audience by taking metrics seriously and aligning goals to customer needs.
  • Make a person feel important, and do it sincerely: Engage in conversations, acknowledge comments, and answer questions within a reasonable time frame.
  • Let the other person feel like the idea is his or hers: Create dialogue that stirs people to think and generate their own ideas.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation: Offer gestures of gratitude and reciprocate “likes” and “follows.”

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie

2. Get to Know the Leaders: Who in the financial industry has nailed this social media thing? Following influencers in the financial realm will undoubtedly relieve your social media content block. It not only helps you stay up-to-date on trends and news, it also prompts you to generate ideas by adding your creative spins to existing ideas. Red 7 Marketing compiled a great list of 30 Thought Leaders You Should Follow in Financial Social Media. Some other businesses that produce quality content and have solid online presences are this magazine, MDRT, and Financial Times. If you haven’t already, get plugged into their networks.

3. Plan Ahead: In the financial industry, content often undergoes a stringent approval process. Businesses in the financial industry undoubtedly feel the encumbrance of compliance regulations. Instead of resorting to procrastination and defeatism, find ways to gracefully maneuver around the restraints of compliance. For instance, plan content ahead of time to allow time for approval. Create bulk Facebook/Twitter statuses, a list of RSS feeds, premeditated blog topics, and a pool of interesting quotes, articles, and blogs to reference and post. Also, strategize and plan according to projected audience behavior, traditions, and trends (i.e. if it’s April, create content related to taxes, Earth Day, or Easter). About.com provides great lists of monthly holidays and events to help you generate timely content.

4. Read: This may sound cliché, but reading is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp. Visit your local bookstore about social media, financial services, or anything that interests you—it doesn’t have to be related to career. The more you consume interesting, thought provoking information, the more likely you are to produce it. If you don’t like spending time in bookstores, make an effort to subscribe to newspapers, blogs, magazines, and other prominent publications. Stay up-to-date on current events—both domestic and abroad. Do everything you can to stay inspired, interested, and informed—by doing so, you will not only have the power to develop ideas, but also to reach and relate to your audience.

It’s normal to feel paralyzed by a lack of creative ideas. In fact, in the process of writing this article, I paradoxically suffered from “the content block.” But having a strong list of tools, leaders, pre-planned strategies, and resources will definitely aid the process. How do you overcome social media content block?

Amy McIlwain is President of Financial Social Media. As an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and worldwide connector, Amy is recognized internationally for radical new ways of thinking about Social Media, PR, marketing, advertising, and customer service. Amy has spent the past six years contributing to the financial industry in advertising sales for Senior Market Advisor and consulting for top insurance companies. With her unique background in both online marketing and financial services, Amy launched Financial Social Media in 2010 to help guide companies through the compliance issues surrounding social media. She is regularly featured in top financial industry publications, blogs, websites, and books.

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