The best recommendations in life are usually those we ask for.
What’s a great lunch spot in the neighborhood? Where should I go on holiday? What new music should I check out? But a great recommendation we haven’t asked for tends to be rarer. And that’s where content marketing plays a role.
Content marketing is a phrase that can no longer be escaped, but what does it mean? In short, it means creating entertaining, shareable, high-quality posts which will engage your audience, pique interest in your brand, and keep your brand name top of mind. It should be easily discoverable based on your likes, dislikes and content consumption patterns.
Mind you, content marketing is not just about churning out content for the sake of doing so. It is about developing content that is relevant, meaningful and makes a difference in the lives of its consumers; content that is real, authentic, and backed by passion.
2015 saw a great year for content marketing, but 2016 presents itself with even more opportunities. With marketers expected to increase digital marketing spends in 2016, creating compelling content has become as important as identifying the right channel to make it discoverable.
In order to create this great content – be it an article for your blog, a post for your social media page, or a video for your YouTube channel – there are few things that can quickly shift you from ho-hum to blast-off.
1. Quality is a must
We’re all human, but grammar and spelling mistakes are an easy way to lose credibility – and your audience – fast. Make sure that before you press “post” you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.
Keep it compelling. When writing, it’s easy to unwittingly create big chunks of text that will have people skimming to the end, or worse, losing interest after the first sentence. Keep readers interested and awake – by limiting your prose to five or six paragraphs of text per page, and go ahead and add in some high-quality images, too – it’s a great chance to show off all your fab photos!
High-quality content doesn’t just mean written posts. Get your creative juices flowing by using videos, slide shows, photos, and even playlists of your favourite jams. Switching it up like this keeps your audience on their toes and engaged.
2. Know your audience (and how they consume their content)
Just like plain old vanilla vs. rocky road, different types of content appeal to different people. Make sure you know who you’re trying to reach and tailor your posts to connect with them from the get-go. Share as though you’re speaking directly to them – because you are.
Skip the pop ups, background noise and distracting advertisements, and make it feel good for customers to interact with your brand.
Be ready for an encore. If your content is doing what it should, your audience will come back asking for more. Be ready with options for your audience to sign up, provide feedback, or share your awesome content with others.
Lastly, make sure your content is mobile-friendly. As mobile usage picks-up in 2016 and beyond, it is increasingly important for content to be easily consumable on the platform. Ensure that your pictures, videos etc are all imbedded the way they should be, to ensure that content consumption is a pleasant experience.
Be mindful of content ownership – no swiping!
Make sure to link back to third parties, link back to the original post, identify and give credit to original sources, and provide original text/comments on curated content. No one likes to brag, but everyone enjoys being credited for their hard work.
Be real, and be authentic. If you’re doing consumer stories, using real people and telling real stories will help connect you to your readers on a personal level and put a human face on your brand.
Your customer is your hero – make sure they know it.
Ann Handley, a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organisations and individuals, writes: “Even if you sell something inherently boring like technology or toasters, focus on how your products or services touch people’s lives. By the way, when you are talking about people, a good rule of thumb is this: be specific enough to be believable and universal enough to be relevant.”
4. Make sharing easy
Remember to add (and use) social media sharing buttons wherever you can. If your audience loves your content, make it easy for them to say so! ShareThis is a great tool to get you started.
Make sure your brand name and links won’t be lost if your content gets shared across different social media channels. Why? Well, if one of your infographics goes viral, you’ll want to make sure that your name and logo have been indelibly inked on it somewhere.
Did the word “infographic” just cause you to break out into a cold sweat? Don’t worry, creating them doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are tons of great free tools available – like Piktochart, Easelly, or Infogram to name a few. My absolute favourite is called Canva, it allows you to create gorgeous visual content like posters, Instagram posts, and, yes, infographics.
5. Be “grab-attention” worthy
When you share your content on social media or in link trades, spend a few moments creating eye-catching headlines and titles for your posts and pages.
Check out sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed – they are experts at titles that are creative, honest, and engaging without being sensationalist. A great resource and point of reference for learning how to write effective headlines is ‘Data Driven Insights for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines, published by Outbrain in partnership with HubSpot.
The writer is Isabella Barbato (pictured), regional marketing manager, Outbrain, Asia Pacific.