Content is King on Social Media: You are the Court Jester

In my book on Social Media Marketing, I remind people that “social media is a party” and “you are the party-thrower.” That’s totally true. People (customers, potential customers…) come to your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok… to “have fun” and to “consume content.” In this post, let’s dig into content. They say, “Content is King,” especially on social media… and we are all content marketers now. That’s true as well. You are the “Court Jester,” the person responsible for creating, nurturing, spurring, encouraging, and otherwise getting a reliable stream of text posts, text, pictures, photographs, infographics, videos (oh, yes, videos) onto your social platforms.

Let’s investigate!

Content Marketing and What Gets Shared

First, some basics about “content marketing.” Content marketing can be defined as the art and science of creating content such as posts or videos that not only get user attention / engagement, but also lead towards something. If you’re a business, content is often used to nudge people across the “customer journey.” You might have some free, fun content and some heavier, gated content – for which users exchange their contact information (email / phone number).  Or you might nudge people to learn about your products or services via content, and then get them to “buy” it on an e-commerce platform. If you’re a non-profit, you’re using content to build the “brand” of your nonprofit among stakeholders. Content is the “food and entertainment” of your social media marketing efforts / the “party.”Content Marketing

Second, let’s talk about what gets engagement and shares on social.

  1. Emotional content – people are emotional beings. Content that is funny, outrageous, shocking, fearful, scary, pleasurable… EMOTIONAL is what gets not only engagement but also sharing. Emotion drives content to be engaged with and shared. Yes, there is “utility” or “usefulness” and that definitely works. But “utility” is no match for humor / outrage / counterintuitiveness. Examples: Dear 16 Year Old MeDove Real Beauty. PRO TIP: strive to nurture / create EMOTIONAL content.
  2. Narcissism / showoffiness – people like to “show off.” We live very much in the “age of the selfie.” People often go on social (Facebook and Instagram in particular, but also on other platforms like YouTube or LinkedIn) to “show off.”  Look at me on my incredible vacay to Machu Picchu. Look at me skydiving with my significant other in the skies above Machu Picchu. Look at me skydiving with my significant other and cute Yorkie puppie above Machu Picchu eating expensive sushi and staring in the REALITY TV SHOW called: ME.  Check out hashtags such as #disneyland or #optoutside (REI’s branded) to see examples.  PRO TIP: strive to create / nurture content that encourages users to “show off!”  (See: Challenges and Contests below)

The Four Types of Content

Next, let’s talk about some content marketing theory. Not all content is the same, nor all content created equally. I think of it as a) content format (text, photo, image, infographic, video) vs. b) content types. Of content types, there are four –

  1. Your Own Content. This is content that YOU create and YOUR produce.  An example would be a blog post, a photo, or video. You are the writer, producer, actor, editor… you create it and you are in charge. The “pro” -> it is your message.  The “con” -> it takes a lot of work! PRO TIP: Inventory the type(s) of content you can create (posts, text / blogs, photos, video), and identify what is EASY for you to produce on a regular basis. An example might be a Pizza restaurant that ALWAYS takes a short video of customers celebrating birthdays at the restaurant, and posts these to Instagram / Facebook / TikTok. It becomes an easy “content marketing machine.”
  2. Other People’s Content. This is content that YOU curate. You are the “expert” who looks through all the noise and selects the really good stuff. You are like the curator at a museum. You are the “helpful expert” that knows a lot about a topic, and helps other who “follow” you to speedily get the important news. I do a lot of this on Twitter and LinkedIn, so you can follow me as a “content curator” and “helpful expert” on SEO, Social Media, and Google Ads.  PRO TIP: Use tools like Feedly, or Google News to create a list of blogs to follow and then quickly curate their content.
  3. Interactive Content. This is when you interact with users. An example would be you posting something to Facebook, users respond, and then you respond to the user’s comments. It’s a good idea to set aside a time each day / week / month… to check in and see what’s going on about your brand, your industry, your content themes and chime in. PRO TIP: You can use shortcuts like #hashtags on LinkedIn or Twitter and bookmark them to your Start.Me page.  For example, #socialmediamarketing or #marketing on Twitter, or #socialmediamarketing or #marketing on LinkedIn.  SUPER PRO TIP: Use filters on LinkedIn for your 1st level contacts. SUPER PRO TIP: Use and monitor “geo” tags on Instagram, as in Tulsa or Palo Alto (tag on the mobile device to see / research).
  4. UGC Content. UGC (User Generated Content) is the “Holy Grail” of social media marketing. This is when users “spontaneously” (OK, not really… you encourage / nurture / nudge it)… share / talk about your brand or related themes online. The classic example is the #optoutside hashtag of REI, but also branded hashtags like #Stanford, #AirBnB, #Disneyland, #ChipotlePRO TIP: Create a “branded hashtag”. PRO PRO TIP: Brainstorm how to encourage users to share content around your brand (See below – challenges and contests).

Challenges and Contests: Create Opportunities for Users to Create UGC Around Your Brand

For most of us, UGC is an important type of content we wish to nurture / create.  The “more” your brand is in a fun / photogenic industry… the easier it is.  The “less,” the “less.” By this I mean –

  1. Fun / photogenic industry: Rustic Cuff on Instagram – fun, beautiful jewelry! The jewelry is beautiful. It’s fun to wear. It’s fun to show off – hence #rusticcuffDisney cruises would be another example – hence #disneycruiselife. PRO TIP: If you are fun/photogenic, what’s holding you / users / employees back from posting a lot of “fun, photogenic” content?
  2. Not Fun / Adjacent: the classic example here are airlines.  Aeromexico is not, in and of itself, fun. But it is “adjacent” to travel. So the content strategy is to create / nurture content in the adjacent area of “fun” travel to/from Mexico, hence #aeromexico. PRO TIP: What are “adjacent themes” to your brand?
  3. Not Fun/ Not Adjacent. Ouch! Here you have to think out of the box about something that “is” fun and “is” photogenic that somehow connects to your target audience! Insurance companies have this problem, for example, on Instagram. Thus, USAA focuses on the military, patriotism, and “traditional” values.

Finally, in our whirlwind tour of “content marketing.” You as the “court jester” need to encourage / nudge / provoke “contests” and “challenges.”  A contest is just that: you – as the brand – create something that users have to do, and in exchange they usually get entered into a contest to win something.  You can browse examples on Instagram at #contest.  Here’s an example – the Disney Teachers Contest and here’s the hashtag – #disneyimaginationcampusPRO TIP: Use a software such as to manage your social media contest. Use Google news to find and search for contests.

What’s a challenge? A challenge is like a contest, but usually the users just get “bragging rights.” Brands create or nurture challenges, spurring their superfans and other users to participate.  Challenges leverage the “showoffy” nature of social media. Among the most famous has been the “Chipotle Lid Flip Challenge“. Users were “challenged” to flip their Chipotle bowls, record it, and upload to TikTok.  It became a phenomenon – #chipotlelidflip. Browse #contests on TikTok for crazy, and weird ideas.  PRO TIP: How can you create a contest that fits your brand and builds buzz around it?

@mvnnyrose here are some lid flip fails for y’all 😂#ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle #foryoupage#foryou ♬ Flip – Future