You know what it means, and you’ve probably heard all about how it can help your brand. But are you following through? Or maybe you managed to blog here and there, but it didn’t come close to meeting your expectations.
If you relate to either of the above, you’re not alone.
Truth is, a lot of us don’t have the time, the energy or the resources to get a content marketing strategy off the ground and running. Many of us dread it, knowing how successful it can be but failing to achieve it for ourselves. All the while, sitting by and seeing some of the world’s most recognizable brands act much less like marketers and much more like publishers.
It’s not just big brands either. We’ve seen advocacy groups, cultural institutions and even entire communities attract new audiences with creative content strategies.
If you haven’t already, now is probably the time to start thinking about how a smart content strategy can accelerate your impact. Here are 5 lessons that can kickstart your content strategy.
Lesson 1: Listen & Learn
So you managed to get everyone on board with the need for a smarter content strategy. Now comes the hard part.
What will you write about?
Topic discovery is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face along the way to content marketing success. Creating an editorial of topics seems like an insurmountable task, and that’s before considering how engaging these topics will be to your audience.
So how do the biggest, most talked about brands of the world do it? Easy. They listen to their audience. They’re all ears when it comes to hearing out their audiences wants, needs and questions. Then, they take those concerns and answer them with simple, easy to understand content.
The result: content that educates, informs and teaches audiences about what they want to know. Each article addresses your audience’s pain points, empowering them to figure it on their own and establishing your brand as the go-to resource the next time they are in need.
Lesson 2: Get Personal
A sure way to connect with your audience is to make each person who reads what you write or sees what you have to say feel special. It’s exactly what Coca-Cola did with their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.
By printing individual names on every can and bottle sold, Coke had everyone identifying with their product. It built an experience for every one of us – pitting us and our personalized Coke bottle against the world.
And they didn’t stop there. Shortly after its first stages of success, Coke went a step further is personalization by allowing customers to create their own bottles in one of the most simple, shareable and interactive campaigns in recent memory.
Personalized content is they way to your audience’s heart. It jumps off the screen and says “Hey there. I know you. I understand what you’re going through. And I might just have what you need to get through this.”
If you find a way to personalize your content in a way that resonates with your audience, they may just become your biggest fans.
Lesson 3: Practice Good Journalism
People say that journalism is dead. They speak of newspapers as a dying medium and journalists as an extinct species. We’re here to tell you that those people are dead wrong.
At the heart of it, journalism is about providing quality, valuable stories to an audience in a way that’s easy to understand. In it’s essence, it is everything your content marketing strategy should be.
Journalists have mastered the basics of writing. They get the facts right, let people and anecdotes tell the story for them and know how to draw a reader in, and they know how to hold their attention once they are there.
Your content marketing should follow suit. You want your reader to detect little to no ulterior motive to what they’re reading in an effort to earn their trust. It involves you addressing the issues head on and saving the sales pitches for later. It requires you write in a such a way that your personality jumps off the page with every word. And most importantly, it demands that your stories leave lasting impact.
If you’re able to follow a journalistic approach to your content creation, you’ll start to understand why the art of journalism is very much alive.
Lesson 4: Words Aren’t Everything
When we’re talking about content marketing, what do you think of? Is it a series of blog posts? How about a downloadable eBook? Or is it an infographic?
Content marketing is much more than just writing blog posts and publishing them to your website. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and different content types can bring different results for your brand.
If you’re looking for a way to mix things up, video just might be the way to go. Video content isn’t the next ‘it’ trend in content marketing, it’s the now trend. It’s transforming the way people connect with brands. And while creating a two-pronged content marketing approach for your brand may take some work, the results are astounding.
Videos give your content an often missing wow factor. They are a quick, attractive way to send your message home and really get your audience engaged. And best of all, they are easy to share and have the potential to rapidly spread your message across the web.
So the next time you’re planning your editorial calendar, don’t be afraid to throw a video or two into the mix. Create quick tutorials. Show off your success stories. Take your audience directly to the front lines to show off your impact. The options are endless, and the results speak for themselves.
Lesson 5: Get Some Help From Your Biggest Fans
Time. It’s the biggest enemy to your content marketing strategy. Creating quality, engaging content takes time, but what if it didn’t have to?
User-generated content may be the answer to your prayers. Enlisting the help of your biggest fans through user-generated content campaigns not only keeps content coming through the door, it also fosters a level of authenticity that is near impossible to match.
Audiences have changed. Today, they crave stories, connection and interaction more than ever before. User-generated content helps create those connections by bringing people together. It takes the whole ‘us versus them’ way of thinking and flips it on its head. Instead of your brand constantly trying to win your audience over, your audience becomes a part of the brand.
And while it’s almost a sure bet that sharing one person’s content will have a great impact on that individual, it also encourages encourages engagement and builds trust with everyone in your audience as well.
Whether it’s hashtag-driven, incentive-based, social promotion or through a brand ambassador program, driving user-generated content to your brand can alleviate the stresses of a content marketing strategy while connecting you to your audience in a whole new way.
Content marketing isn’t easy for anyone. But the process can create the meaningful connections your brand craves. Good luck, and keep writing!