As a screen writer and content creator, I’m happy to spend hours a day creating copy for articles, case studies, blog posts, surveys and other social deliverables. I’ve even spent the last several years perfecting screenwriting, directing and production skills for clients who envision having strong video content.

“Envision” is the operative word.

Because in reality, according to many in the communications industry, companies are spending too much of their social communications budgets – and time – talking about content, and not enough time creating it.

As a result, entities ranging from start-ups and nonprofits to global corporations and Hollywood studios have surprisingly little content to show for their efforts.

The Low-Budget Alternative

Some companies, frustrated by this inaction, have relegated content creation to its worst possible use model – as a low-budget alternative to press releases. This is particularly true in organizations where multiple groups vie for other, more expensive slices of the integrated communications pie, such as speaking opportunities and press tours.

As a result, the opportunity to create high-quality, audience-engaging content is lost, and readers are instead inundated with self-serving scraps that make them want to disengage.

There are several reasons for this. One is the illusion that content is “easy” and therefore inexpensive and quick to deliver.

There’s some truth in that, of course. Content development is mostly about researching, interviewing, writing and iterating drafts (unless video is involved, but let’s set that aside for now). It’s important to note that good content requires a keen sense of audience and what is of interest to them. Ultimately, you’re trying to create a conversation, not pitch a product.

With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand how high-level meetings get started. Marketing and engineering often don’t fully understand the value of social media. This results in questions that turn into management-level discussions, steeped in protocol and corporate politics. Before you know it, the budget is exhausted or the timeliness of the project is lost.

Companies and their agencies both play a role in reaching a solution. Instead of sending an agency executive (with twice the hourly rate of an account lead) into client meetings to explain social’s value, let the account lead handle the questions. Similarly, clients who’ve stacked their corporate communications approvals process with multiple layers of sign-offs will need to cut this down considerably. Social communications are all about timeliness, and tying this up in the approvals process is not only counterproductive, it’s ultimately often a huge waste of budget.

So whether you’re an agency or a client, it may serve you well to trim the meetings back and let the grunts do the work. They won’t let you down.