I Don’t Have Time To Create Content

notebooksLEADING THOUGHTS This post has been twirling around in my head, and catalyzed by all many content-related conversations from the dinner with the Content Rules team. I think often we, content creators, talk about content creation, with the assumption that we got past the first question “The Why”, advancing to the next question, “The How”. Then I started to think about our audience — our end users, friends, solution partners — and where they are on the spectrum. Since the cardinal rule of content is to create usefulness and awesomeness for your audience, I figured I’d help our friends tackle the first question. And here’s why…

People are busy. If creating content isn’t “part of your job”, it may not get done. I can just see a small business owner or solo practitioner rolling her / his eyes and saying… “Please! I have enough to do! I don’t want to create blogposts!” And here’s why that is inaccurate. Content is not limited to lengthy blogposts. It’s everywhere around you, in tweets, Facebook status updates, comments and photos. It’s your LinkedIn activity, profile, job history, recommendations and status updates. It’s the comments you leave on other people’s blogs, even if you don’t blog yourself. It’s the answers you provide in LinkedIn Answers, Quora and other networks. So if you say that you don’t have time to create content, you probably do, because you are creating it already.

If you aren’t creating content, others are creating it for you. If you have a product or service, people may be reviewing and talking about it on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Focus, user forum, blogs, blog comments, LinkedIn, and many others. People may be tagging photos of you, your teammates, your product, your office, your significant other, your dog, your whatever, on Facebook, Flickr and other networks. People may be speaking about you at industry conferences, meetups, tweetups, happy hours and other networking events. People are probably creating content about you, but just because you aren’t aware of it, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening.

I’m not saying this to scare you, but rather to inspire you to take action to:

  1. Find who is talking about you and your business, what they are saying and where. Monitor  your name, your company’s name, your product names, your key employees’ and leaders’ names.
  2. Address anything inaccurate or negative. If someone says something negative about you, perhaps it makes sense to approach them in a private message and ask to explain why they think this way. Remember to never become combattive — it will only fuel conflict. Take every caution to resolve peacefully — check out our article on conflict.
  3. Proactively take control and contribute content that’s thoughtful and reflects who you are. Exercise common sense: don’t lie, don’t bash others, don’t disclose sensitive information.
  4. Treat each piece of content as if it was the front page of The New York Times, even if you think you are saying it in private. Social networks change their privacy settings all the time, and even if you tweet something and delete it, it still caches. If you aren’t OK with someone else reading it, just don’t write it down.

In the end, content takes many forms and tells your story, even if you don’t have time for it. Your digital presence is the new business card, your new reference list. Can you afford to not have time for it? Can you really afford to not be thoughtful about what you put out there? In a follow-up post, we’ll talk about what content goals you may have, and what effective content looks like.

Photo credit Abizem