My mother keeps telling me to write about her.
And I did.
I wrote an article about how I learned content marketing from my mother on my old website, but technology dies on you when you most need it and the article got lost in God knows where.
The article I wrote was inspiring (to me, at least)— it showed how we can learn even from the most unexpected source. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could learn ANYTHING about marketing (except maybe the fish market kind) from my mother.
But I did.
It’s sad that the article I wrote almost a decade ago is lost.
But it’s alright.
I’m a writer. I can write this again.
A little background about mother dearest
My mother is in her early 70s.
She isn’t the most social (although she has the ability to be the life of a party) and she’s quite the homebody. My sister and I — guilty probably for living so many miles away from her at that time — decided to get her an iPad about a decade ago.
At that time, I didn’t live with my mother. I lived in Singapore for work but would often travel back home to Brunei.
During those trips, my mother would always ask me a question or two about apps on her iPad. It started with Facebook, and then she wanted to create photo collages for relatives’ birthdays (yep, she’s that kind), and she wanted games. Games, games, games — to keep her away from boredom.
One day, I was fidgeting with her iPad more than usual. I was actually making sure none of the apps she tried downloading herself were scammy so I was doing a mass clean up for her — also to ensure she wouldn’t have storage issues after I leave.
Lo and behold, that little moment where I just wanted to clean up her iPad became a lesson I remember to date.
Keep reading to find out what content marketing tricks I learned from my senior citizen mother.
Hack 1: Follow the best
When I opened up my mother’s Facebook, I noticed that she had already found some of her old friends. I was proud of her for this but I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be caught in anything scammy. You never know with these old folks and their excitement sometimes.
I did a random scroll up and down her feed only to realise my mother was actually following some very insightful pages. Aside from recipes, she also followed a lot of motivational speakers, devotional groups and local communities where she would keep herself abreast of the latest deals and event happenings (not that she would actually go anywhere!).
I asked her where she got these sources from and she shrugged.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Sometimes I see it on the homepage (feed) and I follow them.”
I realised she was seeing ads. Fortunately, the ads she was getting were relevant to her. She did ask me about some dodgy ones but I explained how scams worked to her and she agreed that while some of the information was good to follow and good to know, she wouldn’t take action on any of it until she cleared it with another person she trusted like me, my sister or my dad.
To date, my mother seems to know where the best supermarket deals are. She is also the first to try a new recipe she finds on Facebook or YouTube — and then shares it with her friends if she thinks it’s good enough. Talk about thought leadership.
How is this content marketing, you ask?
How is it NOT?
She’s doing what any good marketer would do. Follow the knowledgeable people who trickle down information that is useful for your scope of work — for you to stay ahead of trends, tips and news to learn from and share with your audience (or with your clients, if you work for others).
Hack 2: Compile what’s good
My mother’s knowledge bank didn’t stop there.
After I close her Facebook, I went to check if she has enough storage for photos in her gallery. I found out two things:
- She had enough storage
- My mother is a photo hoarder
There were TONS of photos in her gallery. No, not of selfies. No photos of friends or family.
But a lot of photos with birthday messages, devotional quotes, inspirational words and what have you.
I asked her why she kept saving these photos. Her reply? Just in case it’s someone’s birthday or someone is feeling down, she sends them the relevant quote/image to make them feel better. For instance, she had birthday messages for daughters, sisters, brothers, and even a few to pick for her husband.
Talk about having a bank of information at your fingertips that you can use!
Isn’t this the same with content marketing folks? If you run a blog, for instance, you can use the same tip to have an archive of stock photos that you can use. The same goes for social media — have a bank of captions that you have ready to use, with a bit of editing, whenever you need to.
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t actually use this tip my mother indirectly shared with me until much later when I was listening to a podcast by Noah Kagan where his guest shared how we should compile all the kind words we receive for (1) motivational purposes, and (2) social proof!
Mums do know best.
Hack 3: Show up
My mother clearly doesn’t hoard all this information for no good reason. Like I said earlier, she shares all the good stuff with her friends.
My mum is on Facebook every day. She’s on YouTube every day.
Her Facebook mission is simple. She logs in every morning to wish anyone celebrating a happy birthday, checks her devotional group page, and then logs off to do what she needs to in the real world.
She logs in later in the afternoon again to see if there are any interesting recipes or quotes to share.
When she’s run out of dramatic soap operas and Bollywood serials to watch on YouTube, she doesn’t just switch it off. She continues finding news stories, again with the recipes, and she’s even learned how to share YouTube videos on Facebook now. All by herself.
I’ve caught my mother saying “yeah, you can find it on Facebook” or “I got the recipe from YouTube, I’ll share it with you!” so many times now that I live with my parents again.
The consistency that my mother has with her iPad routine amazes me. While I find myself on my phone a lot too, I don’t think I’m as disciplined with the things I need to do on social media as she is. I end up scrolling aimlessly when I should be engaging or thinking of content ideas. If not for my mother’s example, I would never come out of the endless scrolling mode and get work done, I swear.
So thank you, mum. You’ve taught me well.