The poetry of social media content

Back in the olden times, I was an English major, and spent my college days deciphering the cantos of Ezra Pound, skimming my way through “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and diving into the deep end of William Carlos Wlliams.

As corny and odd as it may sound, that study of poetry during the 1990s has been a great foundation for making sure social media content works well in 2012.
Reading it, writing it, standing before the occassional open mic (ah, confessions) with poetry is great for planting the beat and flow of words. It was key for writing headlines as well, when I did such things in the newspaper biz, sprinkling in alliteration and allusions and all those little literacy tricks that turn dull into shiny.
The Venn diagram of the words of commerce and words of art intersecting isn’t new, though. Dr. Williams wrote verse while he also wrote perscriptions, Sherwood Anderson was a copywriter and Don Draper endulged himself in Frank O’Hara’s verse.
But how does that fit in the world of 140 characters? Quite well actually.
Every piece of social media content, whether a Tweet or a blog or a photo, should reflect the heartbeat of a brand.¬†What’s important is consistency, originality, tone, rhythm and cadence. Content needs to be an extension of not only a brand’s existing marketing, but the “feel” of a business. Is it aggressive, fun, stately? Is it ping-pong table casual or old-world stuffy? What people see when they are in a business, should underlie what people hear, see and read when they are in the business’ social world.
That’s why Smirk emphasizes and studies our clients through our Content Conversation process at the very front end of our work. getting that feel is critical when a business wants us to help with its voice.
When social media content doesn’t work in this way, it’s not only¬†disingenuous, but can be damaging. Annoying, sales-y messges can turn off customers and alienate any potential audience.
Whether done internal or with a consultant, social media without a geniune voice can be a disaster. You dont want to see ALL CAPS nails-on-the-chalkboard, tone-deaf mesages at 1 a.m. or (sin of all sins) a consultant promoting themselves through their client accounts.
What customers read should sync up with what they feel and experience with a company. If any of those are out of kilter then it’s not just bad poetry, it’s bad business.

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