In his immortal speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream for this country. In one of the most quoted parts of the speech, he spoke of his wish to see his children judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Those words will live on forever to inspire generations of people to come. Because the content of our character is what tells people who we are, what we believe in and what we stand for. And through this speech we understood the content of this remarkable man’s character.
So if we’re to be judged, we’d like to be judged by our accomplishments, capabilities, and by what we’re made of. And from a business perspective, we not only should want to be judged in this manner, we need to be judged as so. However, the people we seek judgment from do not preside over courtrooms and pound gavels, but rule over social networks and comment on blogs. But shrinking attention spans coupled with an exponentially-increasing supply of online information is making it harder for us to plead our case to the judge. One thing we do know — the only way we stand a chance of having the content of our character judged in the age of social media is by creating content that is full of character.
Some may confuse character-filled content with colorful content. Others may feel images, pictures, and videos will turn heads and focus eyeballs. And they absolutely can, but only for a minute if there’s no real substance accompanying the color. Because substance is what our online judges are looking for to allow them to make important decisions. And while it is important to offer up content on a regular basis, the quality of it is the most important factor.
Quality of content not quantity
Many feel it’s too time consuming to create good content, or that it’s too daunting a task. But you don’t have to write volumes to share the content of your character. Abraham Lincoln needed less than three hundred words to express his feelings for what took place on a battlefield in Maryland during his Gettysburg Address. What many feel was the most important speech in our country’s history is shorter than the average blog post. No Flickr picture or YouTube video necessary. But even today those words move people to tears. Just as Martin Luther’s words, nailed to the door of a church in Germany, started a religious revolution that’s still being felt almost 500 years later.
Using content to display our true character, as individuals as well as business entities, is not a new thing. But we have to be ready and willing to make sure the content we produce represents us in a truly meaningful way. Meaningful to us — as we need to represent ourselves and our businesses properly. More importantly, we need to make it meaningful to the judges out there who have to make the important decision on whether or not we have the expertise, experience, and character to help them answer the challenges they face.
Despite the obstacles we are faced with, in terms of creating content that captures the attention of our online judges, it’s time to get over it. Don’t tell it to the judge, because they have their own issues and concerns to deal with. They are looking for help — good help. They’re willing to search for it, discuss it, and share their story in order to find it. So use pictures, videos, blogs, and whatever you need to share your story. Post once a day, once a week, or once a month. Automate, co-create, and user generate it if it can help streamline the generation process. But remember one thing: All the judges ask is that you make it as easy as possible on them to find the real you, by creating content that allows them to understand your business’ character. Now go out there and throw yourselves on the mercy of the court.
Brent Leary is a small-business technology analyst, adviser, and award-winning blogger. He is the co-author of Barack 2.0: Social Media Lessons for Small Business (http://barack20.com). His blog can be found at http://brentleary.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brentleary.