Content Hacks: Becoming an Expert

Confession time: I’m a huge geek.

I know that term gets thrown around a lot, but I’m here to tell you I was a fan of Doctor Who before it was cool. I enjoy a lot of things that are not even cool now, including board games (the complicated variety) and role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. One of things I love about these games is the steep learning curve. You typically have to read a rulebook and understand a wide variety of systems to even attempt playing any of these games. It’s a hobby that requires serious self-learning. As a social media manager and content producer, self-learning is a skill I’ve had to master.

But doesn’t that just mean reading? Well, yes and no. Like playing Monopoly or Risk, you can muddle your way through content production without knowing too much. However, someone is quickly going to learn that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and they’re going to surpass you. This isn’t such a big deal when you’re playing Settlers of Catan, but it can mean alienating or losing your audience on social media. There are 347 new blogs created every minute on WordPress alone. No one is going to waste their time coming back to content that is weak. In other words, you need to know the details backwards and forwards when it comes to your client, their industry and their audience. It’s time to start learning.

data

No certificates: I’m going to strongly suggest that you skip, do not pass go and don’t let someone else collect $200 (or more) from you on a certification class. For the most part, these online programs are scams. People with shady credentials are trying to milk money out of you with the “secret to being a social media ninja.” The secret is hard work. Now, I’m sure there are some classes out there that would benefit you, but be leery of anyone claiming to have the magic bullet for social media.

Make research fun: But if there’s no magic certificate, how do you get beyond reading about your industry through Twitter and blog posts? Do you think anyone would read multiple gaming books if the game wasn’t interesting and entertaining? You have to find a way to make your client fun and interesting to you. I once had to create content for a company that produced customized metal parts. Mostly this was for specialized machine pieces. Doing some research, I learned the company also created unique figurines for games like Dungeons & Dragons. Suddenly, I was connected. No matter how dry some of the material was, I could focus.

Read a book: Working in social media, it’s easy to think a published work will be outdated as soon as it hits the shelves or the online stores. The key to books is that their subject matter tends to be deeper and more thoroughly researched. Anyone can crank out a blog post, but it takes someone with skill to create a book. Books also give you a unique perspective and voice on a subject that others will not see without reading the same material. If all else fails, you can at least write a scathing review about it.

As you can see, you need to geek out a little bit when it comes to your content production and your client knowledge. If you are worried about Content Shock, then knowledge might be your greatest defense. After all, geeks know a lot of stuff, and we all know geeks are cool.

What content hacks or tips have you learned? Please share them below, or contact me on Twitter.