The concept of content marketing is not new – brands have been telling their stories for hundreds of years. However, content marketing as a strategic practice is relatively new in comparison. Over the last decade, as content marketing became “the next big thing,” we’ve created and shared huge volumes of content. With so much information available, successful marketers have come to realize the importance of having documented content strategies.
Less is More
For instance, according to 2017 research reports from Social Media Examiner, CMI, and Marketing Profs, along with content research by Buzzsumo, simply jumping on the content marketing bandwagon and producing more and more content is not effective. In fact, it can be counterproductive.
Case in point, the following chart shows that as the number of articles on content marketing has increased over recent years, the number of average shares or engagements has declined.
Source: “10 Things We Learned About Marketing This Year,” Brandwatch, by Steve Rayson, 10/31/17.
This makes sense when you consider that everyone is producing content these days, from corporate giants to the teenage girl down the street who has her own fashion blog. Even social media giant Facebook is seeing a decline in average engagements. So, how do you stand out in this sea of content without drowning in it?
Follow these content strategies:
1. Find your niche. Instead of trying to write about everything within your industry, become “the” expert on one subject – the narrower the better. In fact, if you can find a niche within a niche, that’s the sweet spot! As you build a reputation as the thought leader in one area, your audience will come to rely on your expertise and spread the news to others. When deciding on your niche, look for subjects that have moderate to high search volume, but low competition. Admittedly, these are getting harder to find, but they still exist.
You can also look at your competition and find an area they are not addressing, thus filling a void in the industry. You may also want to ask colleagues, suppliers, and customers what they think makes your company different and build on that uniqueness as you develop your content strategies.
2. Focus on quality. When it comes to content, less is more. Overall, today’s content marketers are producing less content, but spending more time on content production. Instead of posting something every day (or three times a day), they’re posting once a week for shorter content forms, and quarterly when it comes to longer forms, such as white papers, ebooks and webinars. While consistency is still important, concentrating your efforts on fewer, higher quality pieces of content will help you increase engagement and build a loyal audience, without the danger of overkill.
3. Be unique. Just like the girl with the nose piercing or the guy with the purple hair makes you look twice, content with a creative twist attracts more attention. Of course, creativity can run a wide gamut, from posting blogs “written” by a Great Dane (see Remi’s Rebarks), to writing from a customer’s point of view or hosting live video chats. B2B marketers tend to feel that creativity is the sole realm of consumer brands, but any company can put a unique spin on their content.
Again, this requires you to examine what makes your company different. What is your corporate “personality,” and how can you convey that in your content? It could just be a matter of writing honestly, with empathy, telling stories about customer problems and how you solved them. The bottom line: Don’t be afraid of creativity.
4. Vary your format. You may have heard that video is dominating engagement these days, especially on Facebook. However, according to BuzzSumo, the top five video subjects are: food, fashion and beauty, animals (we can’t resist those cat videos), DIY and humor. Subjects like marketing, finance and real estate have much lower engagement rates, which means that while video can still be effective, it’s not necessarily the most important format for every business.
Creating video content where it makes sense, such as showing “how to’s” or manufacturing processes, can be very effective. However, if you’re trying to educate your audience on a subject, a webinar may be a better approach. Overall, studies show that using a variety of formats can keep your content fresh and appeal to a wider audience, because people consume content in different ways.
5. Get links. It’s nice to have people “Like” and share your content, but the real goal is to gain links. Getting links tells Google that your content is valuable, because when people link to your content they are typically citing you as a source. Research by BuzzSumo identified five content forms that have potential to achieve both links and shares:
- Authoritative content that answers popular questions, such as “what is?”
- Strong opinion posts and political posts
- Content that provides original research and insights
- Content that leverages a trending topic, but provides practical insights
- Authoritative news content on new products or developments
Of course, along with these content strategies, you must also amplify and promote your content, including paid promotion. As content volume grows, this is a trend that is likely to increase.
It may be tempting to publish a barrage of content in the hopes of “outdoing” your competition. Resist that urge and take a more focused, creative approach as you develop your content strategies. Your audience will be more likely to notice your content and appreciate your efforts.