February 22, 2016
It’s been said that you should write about what you know. Occasionally, I have been accused that I don’t know what I am talking about, but in truth all of us are experts in some way or another. If you do your job well, you’re probably an expert. If you’ve been doing what you do for a while and have developed good methods to do what you do, you’re an expert. This can be writing, managing people, cleaning, budgeting, working with customers, curating items for your store, and on and on.
I would like to think I know a little bit about writing. And to be honest, I have learned from some of the best around. (Thanks Mrs. Hedlund, Steve, Bob, Carla, et al.) Generally, it’s been my job to toss out ideas and hope that the writers I work with get it – and, hopefully, improve it. But, around here, when it comes to writing, we all pitch in. My writing started with a creative writing class in junior high and has evolved into writing scripts, press releases, eulogies, ad copy, web content, and even a book. Even with that much writing experience, I’m still somewhat vexed by the need to create enough content to “feed the beast.” The beast is what the social media animal has become. To be effective and to improve your SEO rankings, you need to keep your blogs and other social media sites well fed. And that ain’t easy…
Blogs generally consist of insights, observations and ideas. They are a means to relay stories that give readers ideas to support what they’re trying to achieve. Each week, the team at the MSA posts a blog that we hope will be beneficial to you. We try hard to make sure that the stories we tell are authentic and useful. And, we feed the beast.
As you build your presence in social media, you face the same challenges. You need to create social media content that is interesting, engaging, and worthy of your reader’s interest. In essence, you need to tell a great story.
You tell stories in your stores every day. From the products you offer that support your institution’s collections, to the way you display and place everything piece of merchandise in your store. You tell a story with your lighting, window displays and the ambience you create. What a customer sees, much like what people read, is how they form an opinion about your business. Blogs and other marketing reach people through channels that are filled with lots of competing messages. Your store has the benefit of being in the right place all the time. The story your store tells has the advantage of immediacy and relevance to your audience.
You also have the ability to reach outside the walls of your store to people who may not keep your store top of mind. You can blog about your mission, standing exhibits, and the new ones on the way. You can blog about the change of season, your fabulous staff and the addition of a great new line of products. Brand storytelling expert Carla Johnson, defines your story as the narrative thinking that defines your brand and communicates the difference that you make in the lives of your customers. And your blog is one a forum for you to tell your story and capture the imagination and the loyalty of your readers and your customers. It’s your story, you should tell it.
There’s nothing stopping you from sitting down at the keyboard and writing away. You can write a great story because you live it. But writing is often hard work. A wise writer once said, “I hate to write, but I love having written.” (sounds a little like exercise) There’s nothing more intimidating than facing down a blank page. But business is now ruled by the power of the web and social media. It might be time to make friends with that blank page.
With so much now riding on writing, I kinda wish I had paid a little more attention in that junior high creative writing class…
Patrick Mulcahy is the Director of Marketing (and storyteller) at MSA.