How to Be A Great Content Creator: June Edition

Every month, I give tips on the best books I’ve read and things I’ve watched to help you become a great content creator. If you missed it, you can find last month’s books here. This month its a smorgasboard of things I have found with a great social media fact (re: headlines) and a good social media book thrown in.


  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: A probing look at the DNA that has been the source cells for solving the world’s biggest health issues and the black woman that was taken advantage of to get them.
  2. Reputations: A book (novel) by a Colombia author translated into English that discusses the role memory plays in the framing and shaping of our lives.
  3. American Girls: Social Media and The Secret Life of the American Teenage: This book has a strong point of view and makes it with a series of examples, interviews and observations that provide interesting insight into the future use of social media, what’s happening to our American children and how to better protect ourselves in an age of oversharing.

Other Things

  1. Modern Love Podcast: Basically the best column on the planet, now has a podcast.
  2. 6 out of 10 of you will read the headline of this article and share it without ever reading the body text. That’s depressing. This WashPo article looks at our social sharing patterns and makes some assumptions about the over-staturation of the internet.

Your Thoughts?

What are you reading or watching or listening to right now that you can’t put down? I can’t wait to hear all about it.


Will the Content Bubble Burst?

Will the content bubble burst? You know the content bubble i.e. the crazy machine that brands are force feeding with the drivel, boring bottom of the internet garbage that gets put out there all the time. It’s the culture that’s response for telling me what Kim Kardashian ate for breakfast, who walked down the aisle with Jennifer Lawrence at her best friends wedding, and the 800 ways I should feel bad about my wrinkles, body fat, hair color and the miracle products that will fix it. It’s the reason Vogue is boring and no one wants to read the New York Times. It’s the content bubble and its killing us.

It’s killing us because it is inundating us. It’s ineffective and it isn’t cost effective. Do you know the Daily Dot employs 15 people to run is Snapchat channel? Cosmo has more? Mashable is moving to video to feed the content beast. They are all struggling with the real pressure to increase numbers, drive engagements, and push out more content  because…. Because why? Because more subscribers mean more dollars from advertisers. Because, advertisers think more eyeballs means more potential customers. But, does the dumbing down of content results in fewer eyeballs overtime because people are constantly disappointed?

I had lunch with a friend the other day who was telling me about how she is constantly intrigued by the headlines of a certain Time Inc women’s outlet but constantly disappointed when she actually gets to the article. She’s been “click-baited” and the content has under-served her. I so often feel this way too, that I basically NEVER click on articles online. I only respond to those people I trust share or to those that arrive in my inbox collated by newsletters I believe in.

Recently, in a conversation with Casey Lewis, Co-Founder of the Clover Letter, she talked abut the response that girls have to their daily newsletter. “They want smart content is the response we get from 100% of readers because right now they don’t even know where to go. They go to top news websites and they dont even know what to find because there is so much traffic driver click-bait on the channel.”

I love to point to the upcoming generation as a way of understanding what is and isn’t working in our own social media channels. As such, I believe we need to take what The Clover Letter is finding into account and what we ourselves are also encountering. The world is basically just pumping out shitty content to drive traffic to people who are not going to continue to consume shitty content.

The power comes from the brands that understand this, the brands who lean out to create poignant content, just maybe not all the time. Wait but Why the long form  blog on complicated scientific and cultural issues is the perfect example of this. They do not post uniformly on specific days or issues but instead when they do post they are adding VALUE.

Value is something I write about a lot in my forthcoming book and something that I encourage people to think about in the Social Works System. If you provide real value, people will respond. If you create content with value people with respond. You don’t need to fill the internet with more shitty content. Instead, do us a favor and make valuable content that people will want to consume. Until more brands do this, we will see the content bubble grow and at some point in the future burst. Gen Z, at the very least, isn’t going to put up with it.


Content is not King. Context is King – An Interview with Monica Villa

“Content is not king. Context is king.” – Monica Villa

In a recent conversation with social media expert Monica Villa, she shared this: Context is King. Context is the key to a strong social media conversation and the way that you can begin to frame for your audiences everything that you share whether created by yourself or created by others. In this case, context means the conversation you are creating online.

Your online conversation is the conversation that you want to create and the conversation that you want to illicit. In short, it is the story that you want told about you and around you. It defines the message that people will think of when they think of your brand. When we think of Coke, we think of happiness. When we think of Nike, we think of being able to “just do it.” Their story is their context.

For me the context of this blog is to teach small businesses that social media is manageable. That’s the conversation I want to have that dictates the direction of the content I create here. My personal story I want to have with the world is to “Think Bigger” to get outside the small picture thinking that inundates our lives and to think bigger about what our own possibilities are.

To determine your context, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the story I want to tell the world?
  • What is the conversation I want to have with the world?
  • What is the conversation that I want the world to have with me?
  • What is the conversation that I want to listen to?

Then, once you’ve got that figure out, turn to your how. How you want to engage in this conversation determines the channels you launch on and the content you create. Content is not king. Context is.

Did I just hear your mind explode? I thought so.

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How to Make People Joyful and Get Viral Success

What’s the secret to success of the laughing chewbacca mask mom’s video on Facebook Live? This article explains that it is creating emotion filled content, in this case joy. 

By now, you have probably seen the laughing Chewbacca Mom who posted a Facebook Live video last week. If you haven’t seen the video yet, its still early on Monday morning. Someone is going to talk to you about it this week. Someone is going to talk to you about it because its ridiculous and what’s more ridiculous is that it somehow garnered over 135 MILLION Facebook Live video views. While ridiculous in the sense that that is a lot of video views: it is not surprising.  This video succeeded because every single person who watched it felt joy.

Joy is among those very elusive emotions to produce on social media and yet, when done well, brings with it virality. A friend, behavioral scientist Jon Levy, talked to me recently about the need to create wonder to create deep connections with your audience. Wonder creates new neural pathways in your brain. Joy, I would argue, lights up your pathways and pulses endorphins through your body. The thing about feeling joy at watching something is that you also want to share it with others. You want to spread happiness.

By sharing the happy content, you share happiness with others.

There’s a body of interesting research around why human beings share content.  It argues that there are essentially five reasons that people share content.

  1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others.  49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action
  2. To define ourselves to others. 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about
  3. To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
  4. Self-fulfillment. 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world
  5. To get the word out about causes or brands. 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about

The first bullet explains exactly what I have addressed above. Sharing the Laughing Chewbacca woman brings valuable and entertaining content to others because it brings joy.

What lessons can you take from this when thinking about your social sharing strategy? In the Social Works(Out) System, we tell you to spend one day a week creating social media content that drives emotion. The reasoning being that we want you to deliver emotion to inform others, entertain them and create deep connections.

So this week as you work on your social media content strategy, use Candace Payne as an example of how a simple emotion filled video piece of content can drive a big and exciting cycle of news and engagement in social media.


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How to Be A Great Social Media Content Creator: May Edition

A lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about how to be a great social media content creator. In the end, the secret to creating great social media content — or any content– is, as my friend Jennifer Braunschweiger says, to be an interesting person. In the spirit of interesting things, I’m going to share once a month the most interesting things that I have come across (mostly books – because I read a lot of books).

  • Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From. This book looks at the genius of good ideas and argues that good ideas come from play, from free associations and from stepping away from learning and/or working on occasion. [This is how I justify my expensive and time consuming kite boarding sessions— thanks Steven!]
  • Brit Bennett, The Mothers. This is not a novel for those looking for a beach read. This is a great novel about love and loss and regrets and choices. It’s fiction that we need to read because we all need to understand – we need to see a strong woman who makes choices about her life and her education and her love reflected in the tribulations of her family and community. We need to see her make choices we are uncomfortable with and we need to see her not regret them, but not ignore them. The way she comes to terms with the love lost, the baby lost and the life lost is familiar to any of us who have left behind one small vision of life in favor of another and who have had to deal with a community who did not understand. I don’t want to say it’s a travel book, although it is – as we travel through Nadia’s choices and decisions. I don’t want to say it’s a love story, but it is – as we are forced to wrestle with worlds we love and hate, as much as the characters face their own loves. I don’t want to say its counter culture, but it is that too – as we are forced to understand that husbands can cheat and wives can accept, as babies left unborn can live on in our lives, and as mothers can kill themselves but remain forever in the lives of their daughters.
  • Michael Hyatt, Platform. This book is a straightforward story of how to create and build a platform. It’s filled with tips for people of all levels of success and experience and shares how to think about platform as a stepping stone to other things. That combined with a Teachable summit webinar by Tucker Max has helped shape my perception about the role for individuals in creating platforms — in short: create a platform to change your possibilities but have a good understanding of where you want to get to. Otherwise, your social media platform creation is for  going to be wasted.
  • Lin Manuel Miranda’s Commencement Speech: This first taught me somethings about Philly that I had never known and second makes an impassioned argument for why we step outside the narratives we have been taught to believe and have embraced for ourselves – whether it has to do with love stories or immigrant stories. While I might be a third generation immigrant, I still tear up when people talk about the can do spirit of immigrant culture – we hustle because we have to and because it pays off. Immigrants built this country.
  • Alan Watts interpreted by the South Park Creators: Basically this short film sums up everything I am currently ruminating on at a big meta level. I’m not even going to ruin it for you. Just read it because it is absolutely amazing.

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