Content Strategy: To EducateAnita Kirkbride
In my last blog post, I talked about content strategy for building your expert status. Perhaps that isn’t your goal and instead you are trying to educate your followers about something. Building content that educates can look very different from content that builds reputation. Here are some ideas for your content when you are trying to educate.
If your main goal is to educate people, a blog may be the best place to start. The rest of these tips can all be incorporated into your blog content, but it is sometimes difficult to write an educational piece within the confines of Twitter or Snapchat! You don’t want to put all your efforts into a social media site without the backup of having it on your blog because you just never know when that rented land (the social network) might shut down, go offline, or suspend your account. Always work first from your own place on the internet, your website, and use social media to bring people there. And yes, that does mean I believe your blog should be part of your website, not on a separate blogging system.
Statistics don’t have to be boring. Take some meaningful statistics and turn them into eye-catching graphics for each network. Add your own commentary or explanation in the description in case your audience doesn’t immediately see why this statistic is so important. Make sure you include citations for all your resources! Take, for example, this favourite of mine. Did you know this about Twitter? Does it make Twitter seem a little more important to you now? Do you want to check your Twitter accounts a bit more frequently? I hope so.
Infographs are graphic images that break down complex information (maybe statistics) into easy to understand bites. They can be very basic, or incredibly beautiful. Think about infographs like you would a persuasive presentation…build momentum from one end to the other. You can even take each of the main statistics or chunks of information in your infograph and tweet it out with a link back to drive traffic.
Depending on about what exactly you’re trying to educate your audience, it may be useful to show compelling photos of the situation. Photos are almost always important in social media, but they can be even more important when trying to “prove” something. For example, are you trying to educate your audience about the need to recycle? Show them pictures of the great lake of garbage in the middle of the ocean. Talking about the need to fund schools in Africa? Show them pictures of the school children you will be helping.
The term “white paper” sometimes scares people, but it’s really a public document that explains a research study of some kind. Did you do some research into the behaviour of teens on Snapchat? Write a paper and provide it on your website, tweeting out links for people to come get it. Taking the time to do your own research and making it available can most certainly be educational.
If you’re tired of hearing the same old misconceptions about something in your industry, tackle it head on! Write a blog or record a video where you discuss the issue and why it is not true. Does your multi-level marketing company get a lot of bad reviews because people don’t understand how it works (or more often, just don’t want to put in the hard work to reap the rewards)? Go on record explaining how it does work and how others can make it work for them.
Complex ideas sometimes require a little more work to get the message across to the masses. Consider adding video to your content strategy. Whether you start with informal or planned Facebook Live sessions, or you go for the pre-recorded educational video style, some people learn better when they watch a video than when they read a white paper. You can also tap into free and inexpensive video programs right on your mobile device, or whiteboard style videos on your laptop. There are myriad video options out there for every comfort level, style and topic. Even if you can’t manage a video, writing how-to blog posts or ebooks will educate your audience!
Not everyone will appreciate your style and tone. Considering sharing great educational resources from other like-minded professionals. Some of your followers may be able to “see” the point you were trying to make in your own post when they read it explained in someone else’s words…which is why I often write posts even when I know many other social media experts have already written on the topic!
Companies with Educational Content
Here are a few companies who’s content strategy is clearly to educate:
- Parts Select – a Nova Scotia company teaching you how to DIY major home appliance repairs with videos and selling you the parts to make it happen.
- Orbit Media Studios – I met Andy Crestodina at Social Media Marketing World 2015 and have been following his SEO advice ever since. This blog is full of practical, educational information about building websites, SEO and content strategy. (This is my token, non-Halifax inclusion.)
- Spring Loaded Technology – Makers of the world’s first bionic knee brace and based in Halifax. They are producing educational blogs and ebooks about knee pain, injury prevention and diseases that affect the knee joint. (Disclaimer: they are a client at the time of writing.)
- Rodney Habib, Planet Paws – Another Halifax expert providing educational information via blogs, podcasts and Facebook posts. If you’re looking for information on keeping your pets healthy, Rodney has pretty much cornered the market.
I include the Twirp Communications blog in the category of providing content that aims to educate as well, but I wanted to show you that other Halifax businesses are doing this well. Providing educational information can be as simple as answering your most frequently asked questions in a blog post, to undertaking major research for a white paper. Either way, there are many options for you to provide such content. As a byproduct, this will likely help you to be seen as the expert in your field as well, so this is an excellent co-goal for improving your “expert status”.
Do you use other tactics or content strategies to educate? Share with us in the comments!