You know you're ready to stretch your content strategy from its current baseline. You've got a strong sense of your brand's values and publishing goals, and now it's time to reach a larger audience. But how can you do that without completely redefining your content marketing strategy-especially when it has been working well for you until this point?
One way is to consider incorporating outside voices into your brand's content matrix by creating marketing partnerships with like-minded brands as well as guest content creators outside your current content team.
Are Content Partnerships Right for Your Brand?
Before you begin, the first thing to consider is whether or not your brand would benefit from sharing the voices of outside contributors. While there are many perks to adding space into your editorial calendar for guests, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.
Most importantly, curating a guest series takes a lot of effort. Regardless of whether you are planning on reaching out to potential writers or allowing anyone to pitch you topic ideas, it's still on you to curate and edit the articles that fit best for your brand. Similarly, you'll need to fact-check all claims even more thoroughly since you're working with new creators and marketers who may not follow the same standards of review as your internal team. If you're considering adding a guest blogging series, ask yourself: is the time investment worth the rewards?
The Benefits of Opening Your Brand to New Voices
Photo by Krists Luhaers
For every new creator or thought leader you highlight on your company blog, you gain a percentage of their audience's eyes on your site. Think about it: if the other partner shares the link to a guest blog they wrote with their own audience, your content instantly reaches their following, many of whom may go on to spread it even further throughout their own networks. Now, if you're following SEO best practices, and using links to your own content throughout their article, you then keep those new visitors within your content ecosystem even longer as they read what else you have to offer.
Aligning Your Brand Values
What's better than authentically growing your audience? Growing the right audience.
With any guest content you choose to highlight on your site, you need to remember that whatever message they present will be automatically endorsed by your brand. Therefore, its essential that whoever you feature is aligned with your brand values as well as your overall company goals in some way or another. Whether they are a loyal follower or a subject matter expert (SME), their personal ideals should be clearly relevant to the work your brand is already creating. For example, a high-end beauty brand wouldn't publish guest blogs written by a used car salesman. Their audiences simply wouldn't mesh. They may, however, align themselves with an accessory company, such as a brand who makes trendy glasses or one who sells artisan jewelry. These consumers are already spending money on improving their appearances. They want to purchase accessories that frame their face, and a beauty brand is the perfect finishing touch. Everyone wins. The brands' audience finds new content and potentially new places to purchase from, and the brands themselves grow an audience with the right people in it.
In addition to audience growth, allowing guest bloggers gives you the opportunity to tap into the brains of experts who compliment the message you're trying to share. The writers' viewpoints may offer new insights to your current readers, which may reignite a spark of interest, especially for someone who hasn't been paying attention to your content campaigns recently.
Narrowing Down Who You'll Collaborate With
Image attribution: Perry Grone
Knowing you're opening up a spot on the content calendar for new partners is one thing. Figuring out who can occupy those empty spaces is another.
The first decision should be whether you want to source your own experts or if you'll allow for outside pitches. Both approaches have benefits. With sourcing experts, you know the people are intelligent and able to write well. However, if you allow pitches, you may discover new voices worth sharing, and these content creators are coming to you prepared with topics they're passionate about covering with authority.
Another consideration, depending on the type of content you're looking to create, is to bring in influencers as the writers, instead of SMEs. Influencers come in various shapes and sizes. You might find an everyday influencer with a small, though fiercely loyal, social media following to write a consistent amount of guest posts. For instance, maybe they'll write about their experience with your brand or products once each month.
If you're looking into using collaborative content as a way to generate buzz around an upcoming product release, you may try pursuing one-time posts from big-name influencers or other established enterprise brands who are willing to mention your efforts in their content and give your brand a major traffic boost.
Setting Guidelines for Your Guest Posts
So you've decided that allowing guest voices on your website will be beneficial, and you've even narrowed down what type of guest blogs will suit your specific needs. Great! Now it's time to set guidelines as to what you expect from the writers. While part of the appeal of collaborations are bringing in diverse voices and fresh perspectives to your content, you still want to maintain a sense of consistency with your readership. Any guest content you publish should still undergo the same editorial review and revisions process as your regular postings.
Consider the following questions, and then write up a clear set of guidelines your guest posters should adhere to before submitting their final drafts.
Will you allow your guest creators to share outside links in their content? Dynamic articles often link to outside sources, so I wouldn't want to recommend you enforce a no linking policy. However, it's important to decide up front what types of links are okay to include. Can your writers link to direct competitors? Is it fine to link to articles they've written for other publications or maybe their own websites?
How will you approach SEO? Will you share long-tail keywords with writers as soon as you approve or assign an article? If not, do you plan on going back into the articles to add in short-tail keywords to help them rank? Are there links included to sites with high domain authority? Are you sending the readers to check out other related articles on your site?
How will you share the credit? Some brands may decide on including a name only as a byline, while others allow for a longer bio which includes social media links to place at the end of the article. What feels right for your brand? Something else to consider is the timeline and scope of the contributions. If this is a long-term partnership, you may want to consider creating a separate page on your site that hosts all of their content.
When done right, guest content and brand collaborations are a great opportunity for content marketers to expand their audiences, generate new value, and reap mutual rewards.
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Featured image attribution: Wenni Zhou