Creating Content for Social Media: 3 Ways to Show Up

Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

But what does it mean to show up?

When you’re attending a live networking event, just being in the room can be enough. Even if you’re standing awkwardly by the wall, holding your drink and trying to fade into the background, the chances are pretty high that someone is going to acknowledge you and start a conversation. Just physically showing up can, indeed, be enough in that situation.

But when you’re on Social Media, that wouldn’t be enough at all. Standing on the sidelines like that – or lurking – would be the same as opening an account but then just looking around at what everyone else is doing. When you don’t speak up on Social Media, no one knows you’re there. You don’t show up until you post something or actively connect with someone. When you’re on Social Media, you do have to actually take action.

So what do you say?

Whatever anyone decides to say online is called “content.” That content is how we “show up” and it is essential.  When we share our thoughts, ideas and experiences, we highlight our expertise and open ourselves up to building connection.

But where do we get that content? Happily, we don’t have to write it all out ourselves! Some of it… yes. But not all of it.

Categorically speaking, there are three types of content:

  • Creative content
  • Curated content
  • Creatively curated content

Here is what they each are, where they come from, and what they can do for you:

CREATIVE CONTENT is better known as original content (though the word “original” doesn’t flow as well in my alliterative list above). This is any content you write yourself. Creating original content takes time and effort. I’m not just talking about writing a social media post. I’m talking about writing a blog post like this one, posting it up on your own blog, and then sharing that blog on social media.

Creative content is challenging – not just because it takes work but also because it takes guts. You’re putting your own ideas out there! For many non-writers, creating content is a painful process that limits their ability to have a useful online presence.

Creating original content takes time, effort and courage, and it’s important that you do this work. It’s how you generate a body of work that you can call your own.  It’s how people get to know you and what you offer.

CURATED CONTENT is material written by other people that you share. The most common response I hear when I talk about curated content is that people are afraid to plagiarize. They feel like they’re cheating when they share someone else’s content, and they aren’t sure if it’s fair. The thing is – When you share a Buzzfeed quiz on Facebook, or a news article on Twitter, you’re curating!

It is more than ok to curate – in fact, it’s encouraged and welcome. Sharing someone else’s content is a huge compliment to the author and can help them access a wider audience. Just make sure you do include the link and that it’s clear who the original author is so that you are not plagiarizing. It’s also important to keep in mind that when you curate content, you are inherently saying that you endorse both the message and the person who conveyed that message. Therefore, when curating a link to an article, it’s a good idea to read the article and make sure you do agree with it before curating it.

Curating content is much faster and easier than creating your own content. So much so, in fact, that it can be very easy to only curate and avoid creating original content. However, I caution against that. It’s important to get your own ideas out there as well!

CREATIVE CURATION is a combination of the first two: You curate someone else’s content, and you include a comment or two of your own. It can be as simple as a single word: “Yes!” “Great!” “No!” Or it can be more: “Great article!” “I love number 4 in this list!”

The thing to consider is this: When you click on a button that allows you to share an article (either in the article itself, or in social media), a lead-in to that article will automatically appear. It’s usually the title or it might be some sort of lead-in sentence. You can rewrite that heading and I strongly encourage you to consider doing so.

For articles that are heavily shared, if you don’t change this heading then your post will read exactly the same as everyone else’s. But if you do change that lead-in text, then your post will stand out. AND you can take this opportunity to say what you think about this article.


In the end, using a balanced mix of all three types of content – creative, curated, and creative curation – when you post on Social Media can help you build a well-rounded presence for yourself. They all work well together. Write when you can, curate when time is tight, and create some content within that curation when you have something to say about what you’re sharing.