What Rockstars Can Teach You About Creating Kick-Ass Online Content

by Mack Collier

Think about it, Rockstars are amazingly effective content creators.  They create content (music) that we are not only willing to pay to get, but we also pay to view and hear them creating that content (concerts)!  And then there’s all the merchandise we purchase as well that celebrates them as content creators.

So as you are looking to rev up your content creation efforts, take a closer look at how Rockstars create amazingly compelling content that not only resonates with their fans, but delights them.

1 – Rockstars always play their Greatest Hits.  If you go to an Eagles concert, it wouldn’t be complete without hearing them play Hotel California.  Likewise, if you load up the Little Monsters and go to see Lady Gaga perform, you can’t wait to hear the ‘Ra ra ah ah ah…’ that tells you Bad Romance is the next.  Likewise, if you are a content creator, there are going to be certain types of content, certain topics you cover, that simply resonate more with your audience.  These are your Greatest Hits.  These are the topics you love to talk/blog/tweet about, and this passion you have for these topics means you create better content, that your audience wants more of.  So know what your Greatest Hits are, and feel free to cover these topics regularly, because this is what your fans want.

Now there is a slight caveat to this:  Often with Rockstars, their DIE HARD fans don’t want to hear their ‘mainstream’ hits as much as they do their more obscure songs.  For example, up until about 10 years ago (or around the time she lost her mind and started playing country music) I was a HUGE Jewel fan.  But I wasn’t really a fan of her mainstream hits, I was a fan of her more obscure songs.  Mainly, because I had already heard all of her hits before.  So when I heard her perform in Birmingham in 1999, I didn’t care if she played You Were Meant For Me, I wanted to hear I’m Fading (The K-Mart Song, not the popified Wal-Mart version she’s done since).  So if you are a content creator, what this could mean for you is that if you have die-hard fans, they might be willing/wanting to pay you for more exclusive/unique content.  If it’s content that only THEY have access to, even better!

Tip: Check your blog’s analytics and see what your Top 10 posts are all-time ranked by views, and comments.  Also, check your keywords and see what terms people are searching for that are leading them to your blog.  This will give you a great idea of what your most popular content is.  If you see that every time you write about X topic, that your audience responds, then that’s a BIG hint that you’ve found one of your Greatest Hits!  Don’t be afraid to blog about the same topic more than once!  The next time writer’s block has set in, dig into your analytics and archives and see if you can resurrect a past hit and post about it again!

2 – Tell a story with your content that connects with your audience.  Rockstars are great storytellers.  They find a way to write songs that touch listeners.  That stir emotions within us and make us believe that this song was written JUST for us.

For example, the next time you hear a Taylor Swift song playing on the radio, actually stop and listen to the lyrics.  There’s a reason why millions of teenage girls absolutely love Taylor: It’s because she is singing about THEIR lives!  She’s talking about their hopes, their fears, their failures, and their dreams.  They connect with her because she’s singing about everything they are experiencing right now.

You want to do the same thing with the content you create.  You want to tell stories that help you illustrate your points and make them more relevant with the audience you are trying to connect with.  If you’ve ever seen me speak, you know I do this in all of my presentations.  I make a point, then I use an example/case study of a business that has executed that point that I’m trying to illustrate.  I do this because I want to make the content relatable to the audience.  It’s one thing to talk to non-profit marketers about how they can use social media as a crisis communication tool, it’s quite another to tell them the story of how the Red Cross is doing just that.

Tip: Use case studies or even personal examples and stories to illustrate the points you are trying to make.  Any advice you are attempting to share with your content is always easier to understand if you can share a story of how someone else has already done what you suggest.

3 – Be memorable.  There’s so many songs I remember for just one or two lines:

“Many is the word, that only leaves you guessin’.  You guess about a thing, you really oughta know…’ Led Zeppelin, Over the Hills and Far Away

“I’d like to fly, but my wings have been so denied…” Alice in Chains, Down in a Hole

“Where did the Angels go? Cigarette smoke is all that’s left. I traded my wings in for a string of pearls, and the string’s all I’ve left…” Jewel, I’m Fading

“All and all, you’re just another brick in The Wall” – Pink Floyd, Another Brick in The Wall

Rockstars do a great job of giving us that ‘hook’ in their songs that make them memorable.  You can do the same thing with your content and blog posts.  It could be the headline of your post.  It could be the infographic or picture that grabs attention.  It could be the key stat that drives home the point you’re trying to make.

Tip: When creating content, whether a blog post, a video, even a tweet, think about what the ONE key takeaway you want people to have.  Look at what would make the most impact, is it a picture, a stat, what?

4 – Be real.  Rockstars do an amazing job of creating songs that are raw, emotional, and strip all the bullshit away to get to what’s real.  Look at this amazing music video for the song Hurt by Johnny Cash.  Look at how Johnny sings about living a life of regret, then it shows an old home video of Johnny standing in his yard with a contemplative look on his face.  Or notice how as Johnny sings, June looks on with a worried look.  All of this does a fabulous job of relating to us that Johnny is singing from his soul.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to speak with your own voice when you create content.  How often have you seen someone write a short blog post that says something like, “I think Chris Brogan and Shannon Paul are onto something, check out their posts here and here.”  We’ve probably already read what Chris and Shannon think, I want to hear what YOU think!  Don’t just parrot what another blogger says, share your own opinion, especially if you have a DIFFERENT take on the issue!  Sharing your own voice is a great way to build your following and audience because your voice is unique and distinctive!

5 – Turn a negative into a positive.  Up until 1993, Sarah McLachlan was very well-known in her home country of Canada, but not internationally.  All that changed with the release of the LP Fumbling Toward Ecstasy, and her first breakthrough mainstream hit, Possession.  The lyrics to Possession were very stark and even haunting, a definite break from what we’d heard of Sarah’s catalog up until this point.  “Into this night I wander, it’s morning that I dread.  Another day unknowing of the path I fear to thread.  Into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride. Because nothing stands between us here, and I won’t be denied!”  

After the song’s release and international popularity, it was revealed that Sarah had endured multiple stalkings just prior to writing this song, including letters being sent to her regularly.  One of her stalkers even sued Sarah, claiming that the lyrics to Possession were taken from his letters to her.  This person later committed suicide.  But Sarah found the strength to take these traumatic events and focus her energy into her music, and the result was a hit that took her from being a celebrity in Canada, to an international superstar.

Tip: Incorporate setbacks into the content you create.  Obviously, your examples don’t have to be (and hopefully won’t be) as severe as what Sarah endured, but maybe you could offer a Lessons Learned post from what went wrong with a Social Media campaign, or how you handled what could have been a potential negative for your brand, and turned it into a positive.  Case in point, check out this wonderful video by Gary Vee on how he turned a potential PR disaster, into a positive experience:

Remember, don’t just focus on creating useful content, create remarkable content!  Content that others want to share and talk about, and build upon.  Your goal should be to create content that inspires others to build content as a result.

{ 7 comments }

social media consultant December 5, 2011 at 7:27 am

Nice post. Interesting way of giving information . I agree with the facts above. In the 5 factes you stated, it boils down to one point IMO “quality content” .

Mary Ellen Miller December 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Thanks so much Mack. Outstanding post with great links and advice. Loved the Gary Vee video turning negatives into positives (as told by a master!)

Melissa Lande December 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Thanks Mack. Music, as always, the greatest of all communication tools. I like to start the day listening to THE PRETENDER, ironically challenging how robotic we are, yet yearning for the genuineness you discuss. Lines like “And when the morning comes – we get up to do it again, AMEN.” or ” I want to be a ‘happy idiot’ and struggle for the legal tender.” Jackson Browne got it right. So did you. The thing is (as a PR person) I know how beautifully genuineness sells; yet many preaching the “feelgood” gospel are the same old snakeoil salesmen as ever. Actually worse. It’s going around….

bbrian017 December 6, 2011 at 5:18 am

Wow! What a progressive post looking at ‘real world’ examples to apply to blogging and social media. Gary is such a motivator. Every time I see a video by him I want to get up and start something new. I think the thing about rockstars and celebs are; that they are fun to watch… and keep radios and TV’s (or other forms of media) tuned to see what they do next. And that is what anyone wanting a little attention needs to do.

Bobby Rettew December 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Mack…you know i love it when people use stories in their blogs. Whether it is a business blog or a personal blog…stories create such palatable context for the audience. The second point of this post is a great reminder to us all…we have to hear, see, and feel as our audience. We have to pear at life through their (the audiences) eyes and ears…then write with them, telling stories that connect us together. Blogging is one of the most wonderful opportunities for our very own personal editorial…connecting with our audience in complete symphony. I am a fan of point number 2.

This point makes think of a story the other day. I am working on a series of stories and I was doing a pre-interview with the main focus of the story. He was explaining his point of view, sharing that his experience was like a symphony. He was saved by numerous healthcare providers and first responders, flown to a hospital, and received a life saving procedure. He described this event as a moment where everyone worked as a symphony. The instruments were the technical tools and the healthcare providers were the musicians…and they created beautiful music. Imagine if we could do the same with words…telling stories that bring life to our blog where the audience and the writer work together as a symphony.

Thanks for your great writing!
BR

Molly December 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

Love this!!! great way to sum up content for social media!!!

Melissa Lande December 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

Bobby Rettew got it right — So many reporters- not just the bloggers– want real anecdotes. It’s the heart and soul of all #engagement. (@LeaderHuntress)

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