Here is Mark Schaefer’s third of his three rules for creating effective social media content, from his book “Known”:
Rule #3: Follow the RITE Path
Here’s a proven method to create consistently good content: Put it to the RITE test.
RITE is my acronym that stands for Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining. If you create content that hits at least three out of these four angles, you’ll be spinning gold, my friend. Let’s take a deeper look.
What if you have multiple interests, like books, pets, and cars? Can you create content about everything you’re interested in?
The answer is … kind of.
You can’t confuse people. If you started a video series about woodworking and then did a commentary on French history, your viewers would think, “What’s going on here? I came here for the woodworking tips!”
That’s not to say you can’t bring your hobbies and interests into your content, though. Here’s an example of how I did it.
I mentor a young man named Elijah who’s an outstanding athlete and very active in sports, so I find myself attending a lot of games. At one basketball game, Elijah’s team was pummeling the opponent at halftime by a score of 48-0.
Finally, in the second half, a scrawny little guy on the other team stole a pass, dribbled down the court, and made a beautiful lay-up. But the entire gymnasium gasped in horror because the player had run in the wrong direction and made a basket in the opposing team’s hoop. The poor kid scored for the other team!
This made me think, “Just goes to show you. It doesn’t matter how well you execute if your strategy is wrong in the first place!” And that became the topic of a blog post. I told this story in my post and used an everyday observation about sports as a teachable moment. I’ve used inspiration from history, art, travel, literature, and other areas of interest to enliven my blog posts, but the inspiration and stories are all relevant to my core topic.
Publishing your content isn’t a creative writing contest. It’s a war for attention. Every single piece of content you produce must be interesting. If you can’t do that consistently, you’ll lose your audience to competitors who can hold their attention.
How do you stay consistently interesting?
When I create content that’s particularly provocative, somebody in the comment section almost always writes, “How did you know this was on my mind?” or, “How did you know we were just talking about this at work?”
I suppose the trick is that I don’t just think about things that interest me – I write about them and start a public discussion. It takes some guts to put yourself out there, especially when a view is incomplete or controversial, but that’s the key to remaining interesting, isn’t it?
You don’t need all the answers to be interesting. You simply have to ask the right questions.
One of my biggest advantages is that I don’t have a formal editorial calendar. Sounds crazy, but being flexible and tuned in to the world allows me to create content that is “first to market” on breaking news and trending ideas.
Here are opportunities to create content based on changes going on in your environment:
- Jump on “wow” news: In every industry, there’s someone producing a newsletter that curates the latest news, (If there isn’t, go do that!) Read this news every day. If there’s a news item that makes you go “wow!” it’s probable that others are going “wow,” too. Open your laptop at that moment and write a post about the implications of that news from your point of view. Publish that same day and your readers will love you.
- Comment on a commentary: Let’s say your sustainable interest is firefighting. If an event occurs that affects your industry like a budget cut, a new regulation, or a technological breakthrough, there’s news already out there about it. Do a web search to find others commenting on the issue and then 1) summarize their points, 2) provide a link to the original source with attribution, and 3) add your own perspective to the original view.
..Create a round-up post: If there’s a breakthrough in your area of sustainable interest, ask thought leaders to send you a paragraph, video clip, or soundbite of their views and present a round-up of opinions. You’ll create great content with the secondary benefit of quoting industry leaders who may share your post.
Why do you share a piece of content? Because it’s entertaining in some way. Maybe the video, podcast, or photo makes you laugh, inspires you, or amazes you.
Thinking in terms of entertainment may create a point of differentiation for you and your content. Most people aren’t putting their content through the entertainment filter … they’re just reporting. Could you stand out from the crowd and become known because of your entertaining style? Entertainment is the final factor in the RITE formula, but it’s perhaps the most important aspect of content creation today.
Before I publish any piece of content, I think about how I can make it more Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining, and I know this is a concept that will work for you, too.
I hope I’ve helped you put your fears in a proper place and that you’ll commit to creating content that will be rewarding and fun for you and your audience.