Do you create content for clicks or as an act of service?

create content

By Anitha Aswath, {grow} Community Member

As a new blogger and content creator, I’m just beginning to see the power of social media. And that power was on display last week.

Mark Schaefer wrote a powerful post, Five marketing leadership lessons from the Internet’s biggest scandal.  As I read about how Logan Paul, a young “influencer,” hurt and shocked many people through his thoughtless video of a man who had committed suicide, I was reminded of a quote from Darcy De Leon: “Creating content is an act of service, so create content that you know will best serve the people consuming it.”

Content as an act of service

Mark writes in detail about the “economics of the sensational” and how marketers seemingly go to any length to monetize from page views, especially in an era of content shock and ruthless competition.

I’d like to suggest that perhaps we can replace a strategy of “sensational” with one of “service.”

Do you see your blog, podcast, or video as an act of service? This content has the potential to rake in millions and bring extraordinary success to their creators. But I believe their fundamental obligation to the world is to serve. Content can pave a path for the betterment of many things, including humanity.

Instead of subscribing to a “clickbait” approach to content marketing, I choose to adopt this position of service, and I am using three questions to keep me honest:

1. Who am I?

In an earlier post, I wrote about the four foundations of the leadership of beingthought, speech, action, and reflection. Each of these is interdependent and is the foundation of your power, whether you’re a leader by title or influence.

To become a leader through your content, you must be congruent … you must be the same wherever you show up.

Who are you? What do you stand for and do you demonstrate these values everywhere, from a blog post to a Twitter reply, from a speech on a stage before a live audience to a comment on Facebook?

Who ARE you? Are you really the star your fans and followers see?

2. How do I serve humanity?

Serving humanity through content is not esoteric philosophy. While I’m not a marketer by profession, it’s a question that’s constantly top of mind for me as I create content to coach, inspire, and enable leaders to play to their strengths.

Service is about your intent. And, when performed with the greatest intent, perseverance, and commitment, it can create unimaginable scale. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was only 29 years old when he was assassinated. 50 years after his death, the world remembers him for his service to the civil rights movement. His legendary, “I have a dream” speech from 1963 is now part of American rhetoric.

When Henry Ford “converted the automobile from expensive curiosity to practical conveyance”, it was a service to humanity. From entertainers to entrepreneurs to coaches and leaders in all fields and businesses, what is the purpose of making money if it is not built on the foundation of service and conscious business?

3. What is my legacy?

Many years ago, I attended a collaborative leadership experience. One of my assignments was to write about what I wanted to be known for 10 years in the future. This was an eye-opening experiment.

Back then, I focused on what people would say and how I wanted them to think of me. Today, my focus has shifted to the legacy I wish to leave behind.

My content is a big part of that. It will outlast me.

What will my stories, examples, failures, and experiments reveal to future leaders? What can I do today to create my legacy of tomorrow? 

If you’re the average millennial who takes 25,700 selfies throughout your life, what is the legacy you’re leaving behind? If you’re a social media influencer, what lasting legacy will you leave behind for your followers through your content?

Will today’s influencers will look back 30 years from now and think, “Yes, I am proud of that.”

Create content as a service

I am beginning to receive generous, positive messages about my blog posts and what it means to my audience.

It’s terrifying and moving, all at once. To realize that my words created hope, inspiration, and an opportunity to elevate a reader’s thinking is an unbelievable blessing. It is a privilege I will never take for granted. Their generosity gives me the courage to keep blogging. If I have added just a little more hope and compassion in a world that desperately needs healing, it feels like a step in the right direction.

Holding up the mirror

100 years ago, American writer Logan Pearsall Smith said: “Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own.

In the case of Logan Paul and his latest video (now deleted), nobody is laughing. There’s been absolute outrage at this callous and irresponsible use of social media. But, could it just be a case of someone trying to find a face of their own?

I hope you’ll join me and seek a better path forward. Even if just a few people join me in approaching content creation as a service, we would be making the world a much better place!

Anitha Aswath is a leadership coach, team consultant, and facilitator who has worked with companies such as GE, IBM, Goldman Sachs and Cisco. Follow her blog at The Kaizen Life.

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