There's no getting away from the fact that the words 'content marketing' are on everyone's lips at the moment.
However, the more conferences and events I go to lately, the more I hear about companies who have invested lots of time and money in 'good' content such as white papers, videos and articles, only to find that they're not getting a huge amount of return on investment; in the worst cases they are being left with nothing to show for their efforts at all.
We have all heard the message that 'creation of great content and digital assets are essential to any brand worth their salt' loud and clear, but how can you combat the frustrations that come with the lack of reach once you have developed your shiny new content?
As a blogger, copywriter and content manager in the digital space, I tend to stick to a few guidelines that stand out for helping content achieve a better reach, here they are:
Have a purpose
Set clear, achievable objectives for creating content and put some real thought into it, just as you would for any client campaign or staff member.
The purpose for your piece of content can either be complex or simply to get readers to click and visit a web page. Outlining a clear set of prioritised objectives before you start the work will give your content the best possible chance it can have.
Know your news
Actively listen to what your audience is talking about; use social tools such as Twitter and various forums to effectively eavesdrop on conversations and the 'talk of the day'.
This allows to you discern the issues which are topical and relevant among your audience and then you can start to add your own voice and content to the discussions to feed the conversation further.
Create content which has value
I'm not talking monetary value here, good quality content should either be useful, entertaining or provide a positive emotional response which truly engages your audience.
Unfortunately, the most powerful factor, provoking positive emotions, is often overlooked by marketers. But it's really a question of 'Will your online marketing result in any action without any emotional provocation?'
Try adding positive emotion to your reader's day, make them laugh or get them involved in a story. Don't just tell them what your product does, tell them why it's so exciting and make them want to use it for themselves.
Keep your messages in mind
Your key messages will be tied closely into your content creation objectives so it is important to keep them front of mind throughout the development process.
This is what will keep your content, whatever the form, inspiring and actionable. Your audience should be able get the gist of your key messages in one or two simple sentences. It should also be completely clear what you want your reader (or watcher) to do with the content after consuming it.
Quality and quantity
These days, business blogs need to be as professional as a company website in terms of quality and just as importantly, kept regularly updated.
There is now so much good content available online that content with poor spelling and grammar is likely to remain unread or even be spread around for the wrong reasons.
Readers should also be consume or scan your content quickly and it should definitely be easy to share to social networking or bookmarking sites. It should be simple for readers to comment on your blog post or video content and responding to them in a natural, positive way will encourage them to keep coming back for more.
Distribute and promote
Fully integrate your social networks so that each audience can be easily reached. You may find it works for you if your Facebook page updates with posts from your blog and that the blog also posts to Twitter. As LinkedIn is so business specific, it's usually best to keep these updates manual, so you can be specific about the content you are posting.
Optimising content with keywords or targeted search terms can ensure your content is relevant to the audience who searches for it on the Internet. Basic search engine optimisation should be part of the publishing process, so content creators have keyword lists they can refer to when writing new text content or creating other types of media.
Call to action
Aside from your key messages, your call to action is probably the most important part of your content.
Readers need to be given a clear idea of what to do next after reading or watching your content, such as sharing it or being encouraged to visit a website or buy something. The content should guide the audience to a conclusion that involves a next step such as reading the next article in a series or visiting to a landing page.
Additional options or calls to action can be included in the copy of the article or video or whatever the content format is. However, the call to action should never distract from the key message.
Monitor and be proactive
Set benchmarks and have goals in place along with tools and processes for measuring performance, both in the short and long term. Whether you use Google Alerts, social media monitoring tools, web analytics or clipping services, track the reach of the content you're promoting for added business insights
Not everything you post and share, no matter how well-written, packaged or promoted, will gain as much traction as you would like. While monitoring pay attention to time of day, headlines, link sources, traffic sources and anything else that could affect reach and outcomes.
Be aware that opportunities might arise which you should be prepared to react to on demand in order to take advantage, this includes things like responding to a breaking news story.
I hope you've found this post helpful. If you have any content creation and distribution tips, please share them in the comments section below.