A version of this post originally ran on CrainsDetroit.com.
If I had to choose the most important social media theme for 2013, it would be content. Yes, major platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn have all rolled out big updates and changes this year, but great content is the key to success on these and every other social platform. The focus on stellar content has become increasingly important.
Create amazing content, and people will love your company and buy your products/services. It seems so obvious, right? So much easier said than done. Amazing content doesn’t just happen. It requires research, planning, strategy, execution and maximization (with more sprinkled in between). Sadly, many content creators think what they are sharing online is more than worthy of our time to read it…but it’s the opposite.
Over the past few years, our dear friend Google has cracked down on crappy content and introduced several algorithm updates to ensure quality content gets the search result attention it deserves. Google’s latest feature, in-depth articles, focuses even more on bringing meaty, well-written and well-researched content to the surface.
Of course, if you have a team dedicated to content creation and management, the strong focus on original content for multiple online platforms is an easier pill to swallow. But don’t think you’re doomed if you’re a small business owner or one-man shop. You can still use content to the advantage of your business. You’ll just choose the most important one or two online platforms for your business and focus on rocking out the content on those, rather than trying to balance many platforms.
Whether you’re a large or small company, for profit or nonprofit, here are some content marketing tips to help you rev up your online content creation strategy:
- Get employees from all departments involved. If you’re a larger company, don’t think your communications team members should be the only ones coming up with content ideas. Particularly important is your sales team. They’re the ones on the front lines. One great question to ask to help spur some content ideas: “What are the top five questions we always get from customers?” You never know – Tom the office manager or Sally in IT may have some really creative content ideas.
- Get visual. Content creation isn’t confined to only words. Imagery is a huge part of online content, particularly for sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Don’t forget about video. Create a two-minute video rather than writing a 500-word blog post. If you aren’t taking the photos yourself or using stock imagery, make sure you know the rules when it comes to finding and using images online.
- Make it shareable. This seems like a no-brainer, yet I still come across great content online that I want to share, but the owner doesn’t have sharing buttons. Don’t make your readers have to do extra work to share your content. If you use WordPress, I love the Digg Digg sharing tool.
- Speak directly to your audience and in their language. It’s not about you. It’s about them. If you know the customers you’re trying to attract (and if you don’t, work that out before you even think about content creation!), then make sure your content is tailored to meet their needs. You can, and should, add in important company news and announcements. But the bulk of your content needs to provide value and be of interest to your audience. Make sure you stay true to who you are as a company, though. People will know if you’re trying to be something you aren’t just to attract new customers.
- Maximize your content. You wrote a blog post. You think it’s pretty stellar and definitely worth reading. You published it. Now what? Well, you and your team should share it on company and personal online networks. You could include it in an upcoming e-newsletter that goes out to clients/customers. You could reach out to other publications/blogs to get it republished (I advise slightly altering it and giving it a different title so Google doesn’t view it as duplicate content). Plenty of options.
- Don’t try so hard. Don’t agonize over creating the most perfect content. Do your research, make it unique/inspiring/interesting, but don’t think you have to spend gobs of time coming up with the most jaw dropping, “OMG, I need to share this with everyone I know!” content. A good quote to remember in relation to content creation: “Stop trying to be amazing and start being useful.” – Jay Baer. The OMG moments will follow.
- Test, rinse and repeat. There is no one-size-fits-all template when it comes to creating content and what works/doesn’t work with social media. Something that works for my company may not work for yours. You have to experiment with the type of content you share online. Be strategic, but know that especially when you’re first starting out with content creation, you have to experiment to figure out what works. It’s trial and error, and practice makes perfect.
Have other content marketing tips that I didn’t mention here? Share in the comments what works for you and your company.