Remember when you couldn’t log in to Facebook without a constant barrage of mildly funny to incredibly stupid memes popping up in your feed? Apparently, Facebook decided that it was going to roll out a quality control strategy, and sluice out the “high quality content” from the meme photos. Their research indicated that people preferred high quality articles from reputable sources, but I have to say that I would almost prefer the attack of the memes to what they sometimes consider “high quality” material. Not to mention the fact that they’re probably just promoting paying advertisers…but let’s move on. Facebook dredged up some research to form an educated guess, took a whack at getting it right, and then waited to see what the user reactions were in order to optimize it (in this case, I can’t say I’ve heard amazing things). And that’s how you would go about creating viable content; it’s the ready, fire, aim strategy.
With content marketing, how you sell something is more important than what you sell. People prefer to be educated rather than pitched, and if you can educate them into seeing your brand as the one with the most authority in your field, then you can build an audience that knows, likes and trusts you. Using authority as a way to show consumers that they made the right brand choice is the best method of differentiation. It turns out that there’s a lot more potential for dissatisfaction when you have a lot of choices. So what’s the best way to assuage your customers? Convince them that they’ve made the best choice they possibly could by showing them that you are the best authority in your field. This way, there is less of a chance that they will experience the anxiety and doubt of thinking they made a bad decision (or in psychology terms, post-purchase dissonance). And too create the opportune content marketing strategy, you use the following formula: Content + Social + Search = Content Marketing.
Side Note: Does anyone else find it interesting that the acronym for this would be CSS, also known as that thing that was developed so that web developers could separate content from design?! Mind = blown.
But how do you actually go about creating your content? Let’s keep in mind that not all content that is created is good content. I mean, with 2 million blog posts being posted daily there’s no way they all contain quality content (you know, except for mine…right?). And in reality, MOST content strategy efforts fail, not just those attempted by inexperienced bloggers. That’s because you have to be constantly optimizing your content. You can’t just randomly ready, prematurely fire and then not even aim. Instead, you should follow these 5 steps that Steven MacDonald outlined in his article on The 5 Pillars of Successful Content Marketing:
- Understand your audience
- Map the content to the sales cycle
- Create the content
- Promote content
- Measure and analyze
Let’s look at an example. Working at a small boutique means we don’t have a large number of people in every department…actually, we only have 4 employees total who work in every department. That means that while I’m at work, I’m a sales person, a content strategist, a social media analyst, a merchandiser, a stylist, a number cruncher and a website developer (in training). But having all of these jobs actually gives me an advantage when trying to develop quality content. Because I work intimately with my audience daily, I understand the different shopper profiles that we attract, what kind of person would be potentially interested in what we have to offer, and how to reach them. I know how to map the content to the sales cycle because I watch the customers move from the stages of awareness, consideration and decision daily. Creating the content is like the stylistic and merchandising aspects of my job; it’s more creative. While MacDonald suggests the most valuable content is research reports and studies, I have to consider my audience and our brand, who would probably respond best to trend reports and style blogs. Promoting the content requires our social media platforms and email lists. Measuring and analyzing gets a little tricker, because it requires my number crunching skills to determine how our content may have boosted our sales, as well as the analysis of our online engagement level using built in social media analytic tools. You need to be passionate and proud of your brand and the content you’re creating for it. If I can do it, you can do it!
(My dog thinks you can do it, too.)
So, you may ask, what are some of the upcoming trends in content marketing?! Well, according to Kane Jamison, there are several.
- The use of selective social media channels. It’s more important to pick channels that fit the needs of your brand rather than trying to spread yourself thin by having a presence everywhere. It can actually damage your instead of help you! This is news to me, and something I’ll definitely need to implement with my boutique marketing in the future.
- It’s looking like LinkedIn posts are the way to go as far as social media organic posts are concerned. I don’t know about you, but I never think to update my LinkedIn with status content. It’s good to have something to push me in that direction!
- As far as organic posts go on Facebook, you’ll be better off not posting them and paying for your posts instead. Organic visibility is down, but paid posts are great because of their inexpensive cost and advanced targeting abilities.
- It looks like podcasts are making a comeback, as long as you’re not a serial copier of “Serial”.
- Content will be developed by internal branding teams who have the best vision of what the voice of your brand should sound like rather than external sources.
- Death to the icons in subject lines!
- Blogging is something anyone can call themselves, and hiring someone who blogs is like hiring someone off of the street. But hiring a journalist, well, let’s just say they know their your from their you’re and their story from their rant.
Thanks for the read!
- 2015 Content Marketing Trends: Bullish and Bearish Report
- The Five Pillars of Successful Content Marketing
- The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing
- Facebook Feed Page Punishes Pages For Posting Crappy Memes