Our guest blogger - Tom Foulkes explores the need for all companies looking to engage on social platforms to find their ‘Content Generator’.
The theory that underpins this is something I call the ‘Content Metabolic Rate’ (CMR). This idea builds on the principles of scientific management (Taylor) more commonly associated with industrial production and separates productivity from strategy or quality (and what’s more assumes both of the latter are in place).
The CMR of your team will be a function of the size and capability of your team combined with how quickly your internal processes allow for iteration and approval. Much of my day-to-day job is focussed on increasing capacity either through increasing the skill and capability of the team and/or refining processes and building confidence to minimise delays in iteration and approval.
My experience of most large marketing teams is that 5-7 pieces of content per week is about the limit of even the most talented and focussed team.
The inverse of the CMR is what I call the ‘Audience Content Appetite’ (ACA), this is the demand your media channels have for content from your company. For traditional print and web based media the ACA should be about the same as the CMR. So for effective marketing teams this is about 5-7 pieces per week. Not surprising given the functional relationship and reliance the two (marketing and media) have on one another.
Historically the key to an effective Press and PR function has been to reconcile your CMR with your ACA. Creating buzz or interest in your company (through reputation, events, etc) whilst also building strong relationships with the press. Both of these activities will increase your ACA. Once the media's appetite increases then you need to get your CMR in line with this demand.
And this has worked well with traditional web and printed media.
However Social Media is a little bit hungrier than traditional media…and when I say a little bit, what I actually mean is A LOT hungrier.
The problem is that despite its huge appetite social media in an absolute singular sense does not provide the returns that Press and PR do. So with a few notable exceptions it does not pay to simply employ a larger marketing team to increase your teams CMR to better fit with the very high (seemingly insatiable) AMA of social media.
Instead you need to find a way to increase your CMR without investing in an enormous team. You need to find your companies natural content generator. For most companies this means finding something that your company already does, your audience finds interesting and then socialising it. For hotels and restaurants this might be reviews, menu changes, recipe suggestions or special offers. For universities it might be published papers and research updates. For a consumer service or utility brand it might be an open approach to customer service. Whatever it is, the content needs to be new, unique, consistent with your brand and by its nature already approved for release. In this way you are able to satisfy social media’s enormous appetite for content.
However, the content generator is not always easy to identify. For a Development and Infrastructure Consultant like Peter Brett Associates (where I currently work) there isn’t an obvious natural content generator. In fact I struggled with this conundrum for some time. I really did not want to settle for the lazy approach of simply broadcasting our content through social media at our traditional CMR rate. But then it hit me, we already have our content generator – the 500 or so talented, passionate individuals who live and breathe what we do. The problem is that opening our Twitter account to all of our staff, is too much of an organisational risk.
So how do you engage 500 individuals on a social media platform in such a way that still gives the marketing team some element of editorial control?
BufferApp that’s how.
BufferApp allows you to draft a tweet, place it in a ‘buffer’ for release later or automatically release it at a predetermined time – a bit like a more powerful version of the scheduled tweet functionality found in Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc. Buffer has many applications which have been widely written about all over the interweb but through one of its lesser known functions it can also be used as a workflow to engage your ENTIRE workforce on Twitter – safely.
Each BufferApp account comes with the ability to post to your Buffer via a unique email address. By creating a simple email widget (albeit branded like a Twitter form) on our company intranet homepage (about 10minutes work for an experienced Sharepoint developer) we are encouraging all of our staff to write tweets about the many things they as individuals and therefore we as a company are interested in.
The existing marketing team check the buffer regularly, remove anything inappropriate(rarely) or repetitive (more frequently) and release everything else. The marketing team can then check on what is being responded to, what is being passed on, join in and keep the conversation going.
It’s working too!