What Old McDonald Can Teach You About Social Media

social media viewpointsThe average American is hit with an average of 4,000 promotions every single day. And most people ignore almost all of the ads.

Consumers have developed extremely sophisticated filters. As a marketer, you’re fighting that filter every day.

What if you could take the filter out of play altogether? You can. Here’s how:

Shifting to Earned Attention

The problem with most marketing and promotional efforts is that they demand attention from people who are very stingy about giving it. With social media tools, we have an opportunity to take the filter out of play altogether by playing a different attention-getting game: we can earn attention rather than demand it.

You have a chance to earn attention from the right people—those with whom we most want to connect because they’re our most desirable audience. A shift from demanding attention toward earning attention seems subtle but it changes everything because you start operating differently.

We all pay attention to the things we find valuable, so as marketers we have to figure out how to provide something of value to the people we’re trying to reach. Once we do, we have their attention, and once we have their attention, we’ve gained that very thing we were so hungry for all along.

Five Ways to Earn Attention With Valuable Content

You can apply a simple concept that grounds you to create content that people will value. It’s the Old McDonald method of creating content:

E – Entertain
I – Inspire
E – Educate
I – Inform
O – Outrage

#1: Entertain

We’ve all received our fair share of funny videos. People send these to us because they found them funny and thought we would too. The Double Rainbow guy or Antoine Dodson of “Bed Intruder” fame wouldn’t be known if it weren’t for entertaining video. Entertainment is already something people are inclined to give their attention to, so why wouldn’t you seek to use that when it’s appropriate?

Content that’s genuinely funny, playful or dramatic earns attention for its entertainment value. There’s no reason why your content can’t entertain. Don’t force it if it’s not natural, but don’t hide it either. Perhaps you’re not terribly entertaining, but someone else in your organization is. What would it take to get her or him involved in creating content with you?

#2: Inspire

An emotional connection makes people love everything from Oprah to Hallmark commercials. A few years ago, Kleenex launched a great campaign called “Let It Out,” which immediately earned attention for its emotional connection with people. Social media inherently inserts a more human element into business if done well, so seeking to make an emotional connection using your content is a way to deepen that human connection.

When starting to think along these lines, consider capturing great testimonials from customers, sharing touching stories from employees, a heart-to-heart message from your CEO or featuring a cause that your organization supports. Your customers know people work for your company. Sometimes you just have to remind them.

#3: Educate

Another value that earns attention is education. Social Media Examiner has great instructional content that you find valuable. That’s why this is probably not your first time here and why you’re going to be back again. Here are some categories for you to consider as you create good educational content:

  • What to do
  • What not to do
  • When to do something
  • When not to do something
  • How to do something
  • Why to do something
  • Why not to do something

#4: Inform

Passing along information to people can also be highly valuable. When you share news, stats or even humorous updates on your Twitter account, you’re simply informing the people who see it. The difference between this category of sharing versus the educate category is that the focus isn’t on the “what to” or “how to” types of information, it’s focused on the “what is,” “who is” and “how is” of information.

#5: Outrage

Controversy is not always a bad thing. In fact, controversy can often earn attention for an issue that would otherwise go unknown. When considering controversy from a content development standpoint, you need to choose your battles wisely, but the idea here is that if you’re really focused on earning attention from the right people, there are some controversial issues that may endear you further to that group.

For instance, I have a friend who is a Microsoft product guy through and through. You might imagine what his feelings are for Apple products despite all the positive perception Apple has today. My friend isn’t interested in appealing to the Apple crowd on his blog, so he says things about Apple products that would make an Apple lover’s blood boil. He doesn’t care, though. His readers are like him and his views endear him further to the people he’s really interested in talking to anyway. He may be going against the tide of mainstream perception but he’s right in stride with the people he’s trying to reach.

Putting It Together

The EIEIO method of creating content should serve you well as you think about creating your own content. If all of your content can be placed in at least one of the five categories, you’re on the right track. If your content can land in multiple categories, even better! Remember that content for social media is not just text. It’s audio, video, images and text. Mix up your content delivery but always keep it focused on earning attention from the people you want to reach.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve had creating content? Do you find it’s a lack of ideas, time, permission or ability? How are you succeeding with your own content efforts? Share your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Bill Seaver

Bill Seaver is the founder of MicroExplosion Media, a social media marketing consulting firm based in Nashville. He's an active blogger and podcaster. Other posts by »




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