Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Social Media: Add value and be part of the community

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Written in September 2013.

The date is important because, depending on when you read this, there probably will be new networks, some of the current ones might not be around, others might evolve. I was recently reading a book written in 2007, and it mentioned MySpace and how marketers should pay attention to it. I’m not sure that I even know anyone — even just one person — who uses MySpace today. I used to, though. Years ago.

So, instead of specifically focusing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, we will mostly discuss concepts that you can apply on any network, including offline communications even.

The networks

Since I just got done telling you that we won’t be talking about networks, let me talk about some networks.

Networks constantly change algorithms, privacy rules, and other things that could impact your engagement. It’s not a bad idea to keep up on what’s changing, but it can also get overwhelming. I usually live by this rule: If you share unique and valuable content, people will find it and share it.

I would suggest to keeping an eye on what the most relevant networks are at the current time for a specific business. That might be Facebook, which currently has the most users of all networks. But it also could be a niche, local network that has far fewer users, but extremely relevant ones for a specific business. Twitter certainly is on the upswing and is the most public.

Getting started

Once you determine which networks you want to get started with, set up an account. I would suggest to trying to keep account names similar. If I’m ctrappe on Twitter, it’s easiest for an audience that wants to follow me across networks that I’m also ctrappe on Facebook and other networks. That’s not always possible, but when it is, I would suggest this setup.

Before you sign up, think about what the name of your social media presence should be. Should it be the full name of your business, your owner’s name or something else?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Business name: People know it already, and this will make it easier to find when somebody searches for it on a network.

A person’s name: You might decide that all social media activity should be handled through one person’s account. That could mean that you use your name and picture and participate in social media that way. If you own the business, that might work. You probably won’t leave the business unless you sell it or retire. Either way, the danger is when the person being the public social media face of an organization leaves that organization. What happens to that person’s followers?

It’s important to put some thought into the accounts’ names before setting them up.

Some networks make it easier than others to change your accounts’ name if that’s necessary later on.

Then sign up. It’s like setting up any account. We won’t discuss this in detail here but most signups are pretty painless.

What to say: The plan

Once you are signed up, it’s time to start participating. Of course, it’s good to listen and respond to others, but to really thrive in the networks you will want to add valuable information.

Each social media strategy should include the following:

  • Integration with business goals (What are your business goals and what does anything you say on social media have to do with it?)
  • Your focus (What is it that you will talk about?)
  • What you can say
  • What you will not say
  • Your brand voice
  • Metrics
  • Time management

Let’s look at each a little more.

Your goals and focus

Social media is not an ad. At least, not most of the time. Don’t just sell. Think of it as a dinner party. What do people talk about at dinner parties? Things that are interesting to them and that they know something about. Same with social media. Talk about topics that you know something about and that would allow you to add valuable knowledge to the network and its users. Of course, you’ll want to align your topic or topics with something related to your business.

Everything a business does should have something to do with the business’ goals. Aside from making money, define the goals.


  • Serve the best coffee in town.
  • Lunch in 15 minutes.
  • Healthy and low-calorie lunch in 15 minutes.
  • Most convenient massages — we will come to you.

Whatever your overarching goals are, social media should fit in there. But it has to go beyond that you offer one service or another.

You instead want to share related content — something that adds value right there on the social media network.

It could be inspiring or thought-provoking or perhaps help your followers understand something about a specific topic.

Let’s pick on the healthy lunch example. Your social media communications goals might be:

Help people know how to make healthy food choices.

That communication goal aligns with the business’ overall goal and the more people are interested in or talking about the topic, the more likely they are to might make the choice to have healthy lunches.

Social media updates could evolve around these topics:

  • Best apps to keep track of calories.
  • How to spot a healthy meal.
  • How to get others interested in eating healthy. Share success stories from the community!
  • Today’s featured healthy food.
  • How to cook a healthy meal (and then later: if you don’t want to cook it, stop in)
  • Respond to people who tweet “I’m hungry” in your area.
  • Respond to people who tweet about fitness topics
  • There are other avenues this can be taken, of course, but I hope this gives you an idea of how to develop a strategy or a goal.

What to say and not to say

It’s important that you explicitly state what is OK to publish on social media and what is not OK!

This doesn’t have to be extremely complicated or a long list. It could look like this:


We don’t respond to national news events, unless they have something to do with our business goals.

We don’t tweet things unrelated to our business. For example: “Happy Friday.” But we might say “Happy Friday. Did you know that Friday’s (insert relevant fact about healthy eating as it relates to the end of the week here).”

We don’t post negative updates about our business.


We want to share interesting stories from our daily business connections. Keep an eye out for anything that might be worth sharing. But we do ask customers if it’s OK to take their picture, for example. (You might consider getting a consent form for people to sign, too. But that’s a question for your lawyer.)

Share Interesting and short things that you run across in our shop.

Encourage social updates among employees.

Your brand voice

Click here to read a previous blog post that discusses how you can define your brand voice.


Metrics – numbers that show your progress – can vary by the network that you are using. Some networks and third-party vendors offer free and premium metric services that you can sign up for.

It’s OK to explore these as you move along in your social media engagement. To get started, though, I would suggest focusing on building your audience. Make sure you advertise your networks in your business, on your website (with working links to your specific accounts) and encourage people to share your accounts through their networks.

You might also consider running contests to increase your following. These usually cost something, but companies like KCRG-TV9 can help with that.

Time management

Everything takes time. Social media is no different in that regard. Determine when you’ll do social media and when you will respond to people. This is important and people expect it.

You can set a specific time each day to do this, or you might decide to respond as comments come in. You can set up email notifications or notifications on your mobile device.

Tools like allow you to schedule posts and send them to a number of networks at once. There’s some danger with scheduling posts because you never know what else might be going on at that time. But as long as you keep an eye on things, this shouldn’t be a huge problem.

If you would rather not schedule posts, you can also pre-write them and post them manually at specific times.

The wrap

Using social media channels in an authentic way that adds value to people’s days can help businesses become a bigger part of the community, while ultimately helping the bottom line.


Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I’m Christoph Trappe.

I’ve written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs.

If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I’m always happy to chat!

Thanks for reading!

– Christoph

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