How “Saved By The Bell”, And Some Friends, Are Formulating My Content Strategy

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As a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was “Saved By the Bell”. I’d gather around the television after school, and on Saturday mornings, to watch what hijinks Zack and the gang would get into. It taught valuable lessons about being a friend to others and the dangers of caffeine pills (insert smirk). It also set unrealistic expectations of what high school life was actually like. But, it was a 30 minute escape, and truth be told I still watch it when it’s in syndication.

Given recent events at the VMAs, I’ve been amused at the traction those junk food stories are receiving on social waves. I’ve posted a few myself and have had more Klout events from those posts than from blogs I’ve spent days agonizing over. It actually sparked a correlation with a favorite “Saved By the Bell” episode. In an email string with friends we discussed this very thing. The conversation began in jest but really did result in a good discussion. Friend #1 is the social media manager at the University of Notre Dame and Friend #2 is a content strategist at an agency. I’d like to thank them for writing my blog.

Me: I’m conducting an informal social experiment. There’s an episode of Saved By the Bell where Jessie and Zack are running for student council president. Zack just wants to win a trip to Washington DC, but Jessie really cares about the job. Zack starts to win in the polls so Jessie knows she needs to change her strategy. She starts making campaign promises that are ridiculous, like MTV in study hall and field trips to the mall. The thing is, it works.

I try to post valuable content regularly. However, it’s when I post about ridiculous stuff, like pop culture, that I get the most engagement. Go figure. Maybe I’ll suggest MTV in study hall.

Friend #1: I can post the words “Go Irish” and get 20,000 shares in 15 minutes. If I post something about the fact that ND has a cure for disease XYZ and will save the lives of thousands of children, it will only be seen by 3000 people total.

Every time I post actually important information that people SHOULD care about I feel like Jessie Spano in another Saved By The Bell classic: “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared (for the future generations/for everyone’s sanity/for the idea that people don’t care about anything important)”

Friend #2: So what’s the experiment part – if people are more likely to engage with lighter content vs. serious
or if you can make your valuable content look like MTV in study hall to get more engagement?

Me: So the question is, do we want to be smart Jessie Spano’s, or popular Zack Morris’? Personally, I always wanted to be Kelly Kapowski but could never get me bangs big enough.

Friend #2: Useful, then interesting.

Me: So we want to be Screech.

Is it really a matter of useful vs interesting vs relevant … or is it that it reaches a broader audience?

Friend #2: I think I was working when most of this “Saved by the Bell” nonsense was going on, but yeah, probably. Not sure I follow, but I think it depends on your goal and audience.

Useful is always interesting at some level to me anyway. Interesting isn’t always useful.

Me: To clarify, if I have a social network of 1,000 people, “relevant useful” content I publish might only be relevant to 60% of my network. Posts about Miley Cyrus might be interesting and understood by 90% of my audience.

Friend #2: I think relevant is useful in that in the right context it advances knowledge in some way, makes us better or prepares us for the next step. Moves things forward.

I guess it depends on the breadth of the audience you’re talking about as well. Seth Godin reaches a relatively broad audience, but 95% of the people (probably more) I interact with daily have never heard of him. Kardashians everybody has heard of, but so what?

A rainbow can be seen by a broad audience. It’s interesting because it’s different. Not very useful.

What I’ve taken away from this discussion is that the quality of the engagement will always trump the quantity. The challenge is creating that eye-catching rainbow, but providing a useful pot of gold at the end of it. I’ll continue to work through these ideas. I bet Zack Morris would know what to do, with a little help from Mr. Belding.

How do you develop interesting, yet useful content?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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