Everything that you read, watch or listen to online is some form of content. In everyday life, content entertains and educates us, but to a company, content is a way to engage, attract and keep customers coming to your website or your business.
Content marketing, the act of creating and distributing published content online to stimulate interest in a brand, should be an important part of any business’s marketing strategy. Content marketing can be a more organic way of generating leads than traditional marketing, and costs 62 percent less as well. For small businesses, research shows that they get 125 percent more leads if they use content marketing.
“Content creation is the most important, and often most difficult, aspect of managing online presences,” said Chris Decker, chief creative director at Edge360 Creative, a digital marketing agency in eastern North Carolina.
However, content creation is only part of the equation. To see real results, it’s important to schedule your content and evaluate the effectiveness of what you do post.
“Impromptu posts are great, but it is also imperative to develop a plan to ensure consistent, relevant, engaging content,” Decker said.
So you know content marketing is important, but if you’re encountering difficulties on the creation stage, try these strategies to keep your content fresh and engaging:
1. Get personal
As a company, you likely talk a lot about your business and your industry, but how often do you show the action behind the scenes?
“Opening up about issues, sharing something you are excited about, or sharing something about the company that most people don’t know is also a great way to connect with your audience,” Decker said. “People appreciate authenticity.”
Decker also recommends sharing stories about your people and the community around your brand.
“People love learning about and connecting with other people,” he said.
2. Repurpose and optimize content
Did you see the blog post with BJ Murphy’s social media philosophies? Maybe you saw the quote graphic posted on Facebook? That’s one of many examples of the ways you can repurpose content across your online presence.
With the speed that new content is being published online, it’s highly likely that your brand could get overlooked, so sending out the same messaging in different formats on different channels can help you reach a greater portion of your audience.
Content creation isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal, and even when you repurpose content, you have to keep in mind the best practices for whatever you’re posting. Content on Facebook should look different from what you send out in your weekly newsletter, which is different still from posts on Instagram or Twitter.
3. Engage with current events
There’s a certain benefit to creating evergreen content that will be interesting to your potential customers anytime they might stumble across it, but don’t ignore the engagement you can get from time-specific content!
Beyond an awareness of news or standard holidays, think about all the random one day celebrations that take the Internet by storm: National Pizza Day, National Hug Your Dog Day and National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, for example. There are even some events, like Independent Retailer Month, that target specific industries and small businesses.
Everyone loves a reason to celebrate, and if you can engage with your audience on more than just whatever your company specializes in, you’re stirring up conversation and positioning yourself as more than just a brand, but a part of people’s lives.
Plan out your content in advance with National Day Calendar and add the appropriate hashtag for instantly relevant social media content.
4. Start a conversation
Whether you’re posting on Facebook or your company’s website, getting your audience involved in the content you share can be crucial to developing that brand-consumer relationship. It can also be a good way to fill a content calendar that’s on the empty side.
Content that asks a question automatically calls for a response, and can increase your performance analytics. Plus, if you ask for a story, you can turn your customers’ responses into another post of its own.
5. Curated Content
Similar to gathering user-generated responses, curating others’ content can be an effective strategy to broaden your content marketing, if done well. Curated content is everywhere online, and there’s no denying its popularity (95 percent of marketers use content curation), but it’s important that you’re adding value to the links you share.
When curating content, you can position yourself as an industry leader by offering more valuable insights into why this or that post was so great. You’re also doing the work of collecting quality content and showing it to your audience, all while bringing them to your website or profile first.
Content creation is more than about promoting your brand, it’s about creating a backlog of information and narrative that drives people to your business, raises awareness and builds a brand reputation of value, knowledge and personality. As you add more and more content to this backlog, also make sure you keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
“Regularly reviewing what types of content your audience responds well to will help you develop material that increases engagement,” Decker said.
Content marketing, just like other marketing efforts, is a fluid function and should change as necessary to benefit your business the most, so you should still treat it with as much care and consideration, but don’t be afraid to get a little creative.