I’ve got a Mad Lib for you. Fill in the blanks:

You may have heard about (recent social media disaster/current event/meme). This provides us an interesting case study with lots of things you can learn in your (small business/social media strategy/fitness regime). Here are just a few of the lessons you can walk away with:

  • (The power of being an individual)
  • (The importance of being prepared)
  • (Why you should be authentic/transparent/real)
  • (Vague platitude)

Chances are, you’ve read a blog post like this. Every time there’s a mildly interesting current event–everything from the pope resigning to a hot new dance craze–people scramble to extrapolate lessons from it and tell us what we can learn from it. It’s easy, it’s top of mind and it captures the current zeitgeist. Heck, I’ve done it, so please don’t throw stones at my glass house.

I pledge to avoid writing this kind of blog content. I want you to join me. Why?

  • It’s probably not original. A Google search for “What you can learn from Oreo at the Super Bowl,” referring to Oreo’s quick-thinking tweet and accompanying black out image, returns more than 220,000 results about two weeks after the incident. By and large, the lessons aren’t so very different from those you see above, duplicated hundreds of thousands of times across the web. Unless you can provide a truly new or original take on the news–content only you could write–save your fingers the effort.
  • It’s probably not timely. People have incredibly short attention spans. Today’s Gangam Style is tomorrow’s Harlem Shake. When you’re jumping on a current event or a trend, your post has to go out with lightning speed. The best blog posts about the Oreo incident were published, at the latest, the morning after the event. Many were published the night of. If you’re publishing days or, heaven forfend, weeks after the event? You’re too late. Everyone’s moved on. Likewise, that means your content has a limited utility for future searches. A year or two from now, no one will remember or care what the Carnival Triumph disaster can teach you about your social media strategy. Instead of aiming for flashes in the pan, look for content that has legs.
  • It’s too easy. You’re better than this. You have a unique point of view that no one else can match. The things you know and your company can do? They go far beyond what you can learn from Burger King being hacked or how the fiscal cliff is like running a small business. Don’t go for the easy answers. Sure, there are times when you just need content, but push yourself to do more, be more. You have more to offer.

Will you join with us and say no to Mad Lib content?

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