How to Avoid the “Cardinal Sin” of Social Media Marketing

Cardinal Sin

Published January 3, 2023

“Thou shalt not be boring.”

That’s rule #1 in content and social media marketing in this day and age.

Your currency on the web, whether we’re talking about blog posts on your own site or social media shares, is the attention of your readers. That’s what you want—not just their clicks or their vague “interest,” but their undivided, engaged attention.

In this context, “Don’t be boring” doesn’t necessarily mean “Be LOL-funny!” or “Be entertaining always!” It just means, “Hold your readers’ attention.”

With any given piece of content, whether you write it yourself or curate and share it on social media, that could mean “funny” or “entertaining” … or it might just mean “interesting.”

The surest way to lose your readers’ attention is by being boring.

How do you make sure your content isn’t boring? Read on for some strategies that will help you avoid committing this “cardinal sin” in social media and content marketing!

Brainstorm “Wide and Deep”

The content marketing planning process should start with every possible subject on the table. Then, by a process of analyzing, evaluating, and eliminating, you winnow your way down to potential subjects and then boil those subjects down to topics and slants (or approaches to each specific topic).

Missing any of these steps can yield less-than-compelling content. If you start off with too few possible subjects, it becomes tedious and boring by the time you’re drafting headlines and figuring out your approach.

So think “wide and deep” in brainstorming. Don’t edit out any idea, no matter how unrelated or even how “boring” it might seem at first.

Then Think “Sideways”

The Moz blog suggests “thinking sideways.” What this means is simply taking tangential approaches to various topics you might have listed initially in your brainstorming. Let each of those subjects lead you to other possible topics and approaches.

Then for each topic, challenge yourself to come up with at least four or five different ways you can treat that topic—a how-to post, a list post, an infographic, etc.

You can also play the word association game with yourself, if need be, to get your creative juices flowing. Use keywords in your mindmap or brainstorming notes, then list as many associated words as you can think of for each.

When you’ve exhausted the major keywords, review your associated words and see if they trigger further content ideas for you.

Identify Stories

Once you’ve brainstormed sufficiently—and only you can really know when you’ve reached that point, based on your own content needs—begin to look for the stories you can tell in your content.

Stories engage readers like no other kind of content.

And there are lots of stories you can tell, no matter what your niche or business model might be.

Look for case studies you can share in story-format, preferably from your own work with clients or customers. Or share your own story—how you came to open your own business, or how you worked with the same principles or knowledge you use with clients and customers.

Do Everything You Can to Help Your Reader

For content you’re writing (or have written) yourself, take the time before publishing each piece to do whatever you can to make your reader’s job easier:

  • Proofread and revise your content meticulously.
  • Format each article with subheadings, bulleted and numbered lists, and bold or italicized text to help your reader understand and follow along with your points.
  • Add interesting images to your content to break up the flow of text and further communicate with your reader.
  • Make sure it’s easy for your reader to share on social media with the right placement of plugin badges and buttons.

If You Curate, Pick the Right Source Sites

Last but not least, if content curation is part of your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to make sure you’re picking content from sites that are themselves entertaining—or at least, that aren’t boring.

Once you find a site that’s a good fit for your content marketing needs, bookmark it or subscribe to its RSS feed so you can stay on top of new posts and information that you can curate.

Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications

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