Social Media Content Sourcing for Small Businesses

How to find and create good content to keep a steady stream of social posts flowing

So your company is just starting to hop on the social media bandwagon, and you’re the one who’s been tasked with posting relevant, interesting content.  While this might seem easy for a while, eventually you’re going to hit a creative wall.  How do you continually find fresh sources of content so that your audience doesn’t get bombarded with the same generic posts over and over?Social Media Content Sourcing
Working for Local Search Masters, I manage numerous social media accounts hailing from a diverse range of industries, and consistently finding great stuff can be challenging, especially for small businesses whose operations aren’t inherently exciting (Unfortunately, we can’t all work on kitten farms).  Below are some of the best ways that I’ve found to come up with engaging content on a regular basis.

  • Photos/videos- Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm (the formula that determines who sees what you’re posting) grants greater reach to media like photos, videos, and links than just plain old text.  Further, these media tend to get higher rates of interaction (i.e., likes, shares, retweets, etc.) from friends and followers.  Try to get in the habit of taking pictures (preferably high definition) at important functions or even regular workdays.  It’ll make your company seem like a more fun place to work and it’ll give you something to do if you get bored.  Videos take a bit more work, but if you have the time, whip out the camcorder every once in a while and make an informative and/or funny cinematic masterpiece.  Sprinkle some of these pictures and videos into your posting schedule.

 

  • Current events- Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  There are interesting things going on every day.  From holidays to scandals to major world events, there’s always something worth talking about.  Throwing out an occasional opinion or wisecrack about a current event is a good way to subconsciously convey the idea that your business is with the times.  Even if these events don’t have any direct bearing on what your company does, they still make for interesting conversation- which is the main end of social media in the first place.  Other than news websites, a good way to see what’s going on is to see what’s trending on Twitter.  You can then insert specific hashtags into your posts to increase visibility with non-followers.

 

  • Trade websites and news publications-  Posting links to articles that have news relevant to your industry is always a good option.  There are plenty of places to find articles, so take the time to find one that’s actually going to get people’s attention.  Start with trade association sites and industry-relevant blogs. If you can’t find anything jaw-dropping, move to local and national news publications.  Even if you can’t find anything recent, most publications will have interesting articles archived that you can dig up and post a link to.

 

  • Potpourri- I call this potpourri because it’s a mixture of a variety of filler content.  These aren’t always homerun posts, but they’re good for keeping your accounts active when more exciting content is scarce.  Potpourri involves little snippets that relate to your core product.  This can come in the form of trivia, quotes, statistics, sayings, jokes, song lyrics, or even poems.  Say you run a local breakfast joint.  All you need to do to find relevant content is go to Google and type in “pancake trivia” and bam, you’ve got a post for the day (Pancakes have been around since the 1400s, according to the Pancake Appreciation Society. Perhaps more amazing, there’s a Pancake Appreciation Society).  Songs about pancakes might be a little more difficult, but also all the more impressive should you find them.

 

  • Company website content- Though you shouldn’t overly self-promote your business via these social channels (people don’t get on Facebook to hear sales pitches all day), there’s certainly room for highlighting your company’s products or services occasionally.  If you’re offering something new or if one of your products is not getting the attention it deserves, post about this and link to the page on your website dedicated to said product.  Social media accounts can and should be utilized to expand the reach of your blog posts as well; every time a new blog post is created, make sure you let the world know on your social channels and include a link to the new content.

 

  • Funny/random things- Too often, people are afraid to post things that are completely unrelated to what the company does.  However, this approach can lead to a vast amount of missed opportunities.  There are thousands of pieces of interesting, hilarious, and mind-blowing content out there, and posting these all but guarantees interaction, sharing, and higher visibility.  Don’t worry if you can’t make a relevant connection between a video of a baby riding a St. Bernard and your real estate firm; you don’t have to.  As long as people get it from you, they’ve thought about your company for at least a fleeting instant that day.  This gradual brand reinforcement plays a stronger role in consumer subconscious than most people realize, and it signals to your base that you have a lighter, more human side.

 

  • Highlight your people- It never hurts to get to know your employees or your customers better.  If you have access to this kind of information, give shout-outs to team members and patrons (though be careful not to violate any kind of privacy agreement, obviously) alike on birthdays, anniversaries, or major accomplishments.  Everybody likes to be a celebrity for a day, and strengthening these relationships will boost employee morale and increase brand equity by encouraging repeat purchases.

 

  • Interaction bait- You’ve probably seen posts like this before.  These are posts that directly encourage interaction, and they come in a few common forms: fill in the blanks, “like” if you agree (and/or comment if you don’t), and opinion polls. I usually tie these to current events as mentioned before, creating a water-cooler atmosphere that allows followers to give their two cents about the latest news.  People like the express themselves, so you might as well let them.  Some examples:
    • The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Lance Armstrong is   _______________.
    • Most of the office thinks Django Unchained was Quentin Tarrantino’s best  work… Like if you agree or comment and tell us otherwise!
    • Poll: Who’s going to win the Har-Bowl?

 

  • Social interest sites- I’m hesitant to give away my secret weapon, but by far the most useful site for finding post-worthy content is Reddit.  Other than being my absolute favorite website in the world, Reddit is a valuable way to sift through news and information about topics you’re interested in.  For example, if your company repairs airplanes, you can subscribe to various subreddits (forums for posting interesting content specific to a narrow subject) that will all have different kinds of plane-related content.  Some of these subreddits will focus exclusively on airplane news, some on beautiful high-definition pictures of planes, and others still on airplane humor. Stumble Upon is helpful too, albeit in a less organized way.

This might seem like overly general, vague advice, but the key to posting is being interesting.  Ask yourself, “If I didn’t work for this company, would I care about this post? Is it exciting, informative, or noteworthy in anyway?” If the answers to these questions turn out to be “no” too often, it’s time to start changing the way you post.

And as I’ll stress from now until eternity, remember not to take the “social” out of social media.  When you post, don’t adopt the tone of some impersonal corporation.  Be funny.  Be colloquial.  Act how you would on your personal accounts, albeit slightly more politically correctly.  People want to interact with other people; the more your company looks and sounds like a person, the more your audience will react positively to what you’re putting out there.

 James Crater- Digital Marketing Content Manager at Local Search Masters

With experience in writing for the Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper as well as multiple online journals, James has written and managed content in various social media for multiple national firms.

James on Google+

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