Be useful

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James Warren talked about the golden rule for online PR / social media  strategy as be nice. Being nice however will only get you so far. Lots of us know people who are annoying because they are nice but ineffective and social media is kind of similar.

My heart used to sink a little every time account staff or clients used come out with ‘we want a viral video’ when what they meant was that they wanted a sales video and hoped that I could sprinkle some magic social media pixie dust on it, turning it into a Youtube hit. Every time I look in my desk drawer I am reminded of the fact that I am clean out of pixie dust; in fact I never had any in the first place – it may not even exist!

What they missed was the second set of two words that added to be nice make up a successful digital strategy: be useful. What do I mean by be useful?

  • Is the content informative to a member of the general public (who doesn’t work for your organisation)?
  • If I were a member of the general public, would I feel that this content is selling something to me? (No is the answer that we’re looking for here, leave that at the door with the gentleman selling the Kirby cleaner)
  • Is the content entertaining (be ruthless on this one)?
  • Will the content save consumer time? A classic example of this would be the Kraft Food iPhone recipe application
  • Is the context rigtht: is the consumer likely to see it in the right place and at the right time for them? You may have a lot Christmas decorations you want people on the Internet to purchase, but it may not be the right place (are them expanding foil decorations an impulse purchase or do we compare prices and specifications on them?) and just after Easter definitely isn’t the right time
  • Will the average person feel that their life has been enriched by your content? (As a bit of guidance on this one: Barry Scott adverts for Cillit Bang do not count as enrichment)

There you have it: be nice, be useful.