Social Media Marketing | “Content Rules” by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman

April 2, 2016

Social Media Marketing Research Brings Us Today’s Book: Content Rules: How To Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks Webinars & More – That Engage Customers & Ignite Your Business.

Overview: This book was published in 2012, but a lot of the strategies can still be used today – mainly for website owners who are looking to expand their social media reach and entrepreneurs wanting to make more out of their current content.

social media

My honest opinion?  Umm… no offence to these guys – I mean, writing a book isn’t easy… lol, but it was a bit too ‘corporate’ for my liking.  Here are my notes below – so you don’t have to go read the whole book if you don’t want to.  A lot of it feels like common sense – but sometimes common sense isn’t always super common – especially when dealing with social matters.

Key Point 1: Content Deepens Customer Relationships 

  • Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat & Instagram is a great place to get a ton of traffic, but it can be hard to always come up with great content (content that makes you an account worth following – aka what Ryan Maher spoke about)
  • The best type of content, to appeal to your audience and engage with them uses true stories about actual people in real life situations.
  • Procter and Gamble published a video series called “Welcome To Parenthood”, featuring parents describing their daily lives etc.
  • Whatever you share should be an extension of your brand, giving you the opportunity to create real connections with your customers, building relationships one at a time – example, CMO of Kodak reaching out to individuals, and (this wasn’t in the book … but my observation) Taylor Swift researching fans and delivering thoughtful Christmas gifts to a select lucky few.

Key Point 2: What Is Your Brand’s ‘Voice’? 

  • Before setting up any social media account for your business, you need to work out what is your voice, what is unique about you and your offer.  Create it as if you are speaking to an individual person.
  • Write in a friendly/conversational tone.  Don’t use corp jargon (duh).  Joke around, but keep it still reflecting what you represent and stand for.
  • Get creative – eg. Cisco Systems featuring a video series where the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus delivered testimonials about their service.
  • Find out what they want.  Survey Monkey is a great survey tool to ask peole what they want, you can also use QuantCast.com which gives you a lot of data too.

Key Point 3: Start Publishing 

  • Start small, sharing easily made content.  Maybe make a blog (WordPress, or Weebly, or Wix are good places to start), or even simpler, a FB, Twitter or Yelp account.
  • Ask your followers their opinion on a topic and use their responses to create a blog post – or shoot a vid presentation addressing commonly asked questions and post it on your Youtube channel, share that YT link on FB and Twitter too.
  • The book recommended some sources for content curation: Eqentia, Lingospot and Loud3r – but I’d recommend something like BuzzSumo – this site rocks if you are looking for ideas to generate interesting posts… you can search by keyword etc and get lots of ideas and see what is trending right now.

Key Point 4: Make Your Content Easy To Share

  • Once you’ve made your content, you need to be able to share it – so put some share buttons up.  I totally forgot about this myself, so… as you can see … this blog now has shiny share buttons (wink wink, nudge nudge)
  • In the book, they talk a bit about Twitter marketing, writing a good tweet (in the 140 char allowance)
  • Treat it similar to a marketing headline, punchy, clever and if you can… funny (if it matches the feel/brand of your site)

Key Point 5: Systematise Using A Calendar

  • This is the chapter that got my attention, because I’m a bit of a geek for organising things, scheduling and planning for awesome outcomes.
  • Google calendars are great for this – or… something I use is Asana.  At the start of each month I plan out what the next month is going to look like (basically… allowing for a little bit of flex), so that when it comes time to write an email, or blog post, I kinda have an idea about what it will be about already – based on what I’ve planned before.
  • Your daily schedule might be “Update Twitter and FB about something small that is new – whatever that is – and respond to comments on the blog – take a photo and share via Instagram and also post a short inspirational quote.”  If you have received any testimonials in your support desk or email, share those too.
  • Your weekly schedule might be “Make a short blog post covering one of the FAQ that your support desk encounters & write an email to your subscribers”
  • Your monthly schedule might be “Write an indepth article or create a video for content and training in some kind of helpful way.”

Key Point 6: Tracking Your Work

  • Something that not nearly enough people do (including me a lot of the time… hey!! I’m getting better!!!) is setting clear, quantifiable goals and tracking your social posts.
  • Track which keywords are getting you traffic.  You can do that with Google’s Analytics account (it’s free), you just put some code on your website and then Google tells you how a customer arrived on your website, how long they stayed, what they clicked – what kept their attention etc, and what you need to work on more to keep them there.
  • By tracking the keywords (what brought them to your site to begin with), you can build more content around that and expand to higher traffic targets.

Key Point 7: Build Content For YOUR Customers Needs

  • Build a spreadsheet that maps out all possible questions and concerns your customers might have.
  • Identify the needs by going through your product from start to finish and try put yourself in the customers shoes – what might they struggle with, what could they be thinking right now.
  • Think about the terms you use – aka. ‘webinar’ – do your people know what that is?  Maybe a ‘cheatsheet’ type of resource could be handy and expand your content reach too.

So… oh my goodness… I hope you got a few ideas from here.  Honestly – I wouldn’t say go out and buy this one, but… i’ve read it, i’ve given notes, so… it can go to the corner of my bookshelf where books go to die.

There were some ideas in here that can trigger other ideas – and that’s really one of the main reasons I stuck with it, and that’s where I sometimes end up getting some of my more creative ideas, by persevering through – your mind occasionally wanders to imagine, like… “What if….??”  So I hope this helped stir up some of those what if ideas and – i’ll see you at the next book review… hehe.

– Cindy Donovan

P.S. Have you read this book?  Was it as facepalming as I found it for you? Or am I just being super harsh?   Have you read anything, or want to read anything about social media marketing, content marketing etc. that might be a better resource than this?  Share it in the comments below!

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11 comments on “Social Media Marketing | “Content Rules” by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman

  1. Allen Privett Apr 3, 2016

    Engaging customers. One of the hardest things to do for ANY business. The key points are good and if the content marketing book is as good, its a worth while read.

  2. Brian Dennis Apr 3, 2016

    I have noticed that since I switched to creating content that my visitors would like to read, my traffic has picked up.

  3. Robert Plourde Apr 3, 2016

    I love your book reviews. You are very thorough and by putting all of those key points together you are really helping me learn a lot about content marketing.

    • Ha! i’m glad you liked it – even though I didn’t really like the book… I’m glad you like my format and I’ll keep working on bringing you good info 🙂

  4. Bobby Sherman Apr 3, 2016

    Being able to quickly share your content is a big part of the job today. If your readers cannot send to Facebook or Twitter in the matter of a couple clicks, you will lose in the end.

  5. Sanskrita Apr 9, 2016

    After reading your article. I bought this book. Book provides a great introduction to the importance of content and how to do it right. Definitely recommend this book if you are interested in doing digital media right – especially with regards to social media and search engine optimization. Thanks you once again 😉

  6. Sanskrita Apr 13, 2016

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I was wondering whats the best way to optimize my website’s content without being too technical.

  7. Valencia Pooley Apr 13, 2016

    Getting my customers to engage is hard. I have tried reading many articles but it didn’t work, I’ll try some of these and see how it goes.

  8. Domenic Stelle Apr 13, 2016

    Amazing reading this article. I always look to learn more about content marketing and I think I should give it a try to this book. What do you say?

    • Thanks, I’m glad you are enjoying the info! I’d suggest, there are better books out there when it comes to content marketing – and social media marketing. I’m going to post a overview article in the next day or two on Gary Vee’s Jab Jab Jab Hook book – I’d recommend that one WAY more!

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