“Never create content just for the sake of creating content.”
Chances are you’ve seen this simple piece of advice echoed across countless articles, webinars, and conferences by plenty of well-meaning content marketing experts. But to an experienced marketer, this tip is pure common sense. Who in their right mind—with an overstretched budget and a boardroom full of eager senior executives demanding results—would make content just for fun?
You know better. You’d never publish a piece of content without a clear goal and strategy.
Additionally, you know your content marketing mix should not only reflect current trends, but also consistently address your business challenges and help achieve your goals. But with content marketing such a mysterious and wild beast, always morphing and changing—just when you think you’ve got it mastered, something new demands your attention and begs for your resources—how do you get your mix just right?
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you overcome industry pain points while making the best use of your resources.
Epic storytelling and captivating think pieces help you set your brand apart from the noise and clutter of our content-saturated internet world. These types of efforts help drive an emotional connection between your brand and your audience, and if you’re really lucky, this content will go viral and bring in heaps of new paying customers.
But you can’t force that kind of magic, nor should you spend all your time and effort trying to create the next unicorn. Sometimes the best and most powerful piece of content is also the most practical. And practical doesn’t have to mean boring. You should always strive to make your content as engaging as possible. Just calibrate: There’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel when your audience is craving good, old-fashioned information.
After all, whether they’re doing it through voice commands or entering a query via text, most people still turn to search engines to seek answers to everyday questions and problems. And when brands consistently deliver useful and helpful content, search engines reward them with more favorable rankings.
Take Travelers, for example. The brand’s content hub is chock-full of well-optimized, informational content that’s highly relevant to its audience. Within the hub, you’ll find a mix of blog posts, videos, and interactive tools addressing questions like, “How much does it cost to close on a house?” Travelers also provides step-by-step guides on topics like how to pack for a move and which methods will best protect your home from stormwater damage.
While these materials may not feel like grandiose brand storytelling, the insurance company’s dedication to solving real customer problems through its content marketing helps them build a foundation of trust and reliability with their audience.
Take the now infamous “pivot to video” trend, for example. In 2016, marketing soothsayers were certain that video would replace, well, pretty much everything. With organic social reach in the toilet and seemingly every organization in the world blogging, videos seemed not only a viable method for grabbing your audience’s attention, but one that could drive wild success for your brand. And at that time, Facebook’s video metrics supported this idea—and when the social media giant says “jump,” advertisers start practicing their parkour.
Practically overnight, huge media companies began laying off writers and hiring video production teams. Some nearly ceased creating written content altogether, and instead pumped their resources into expensive and time-consuming video efforts.
The results? Publishers that pivoted to video during the summer of 2016 saw a 60 percent drop in their web traffic that August compared to the same period a year before, according to data shared by Digiday. Eventually, Facebook came clean, admitting it inflated its video metrics by 60 to 80 percent, subsequently facing a massive lawsuit.
Does this cautionary tale mean you should never explore new or different forms of content? Of course not. Innovation is critical to brand sustainability. But never put all your marketing eggs in one basket, and don’t waste all of your resources chasing a new fad. Video is a powerful and necessary addition to your content mix, but it shouldn’t automatically take precedence over other media assets at your disposal.
Only creating one type of content is kind of like ordering pizza for every meal—it’s simple, easy, and for a while it sustains you. But eventually, it’s going to start causing problems.
As a brand, only creating one form of content will cripple your brand exposure. While one segment of your audience may prefer to get their content from blog posts and articles, another segment may prefer more visual content, such as videos and slide presentations. For instance, while some people will happily download and read an e-book cover to cover, others would rather see the information presented within a webinar.
So what’s the best way to keep everyone happy? Diversify your content marketing mix. Strive to repurpose popular pieces of content into multiple formats so you can get your message in front of as many people as possible. For example, if you notice a blog post is earning tons of traffic, consider how you could develop that topic into a podcast or infographic to appeal to other segments of your audience.
While the term “social influencer” may be relatively new, the concept is as old as marketing itself. Leveraging happy customers is one of the most effective methods of driving interest and trust in your brand, and it’s even more effective when those customers have several thousand highly engaged followers.
Tom’s of Maine has enjoyed a sweeping success with its influencer program. A few years ago, the beloved natural products brand wanted to increase awareness and engagement across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter by leveraging micro-influencers—social media users with about 1,000 to 50,000 followers.
But they don’t work with just any influencers. To protect their brand, Tom’s proactively seeks out influencers who support their core values of health and sustainability, as well as social users who genuinely use and enjoy the company’s products. Additionally, to ensure the brand’s social presence feels consistent and authentic, Tom’s expands this same passion for eco-friendly goods to every channel where they create content. Their “Good Matters” content hub, for example, addresses the small steps their audience can take to live more sustainable lifestyles.
Tom’s recognized a need to create attention-grabbing content that fit within their brand voice and could be shared across every channel, from Instagram to Pinterest. The willingness to participate in conversations in every social space has allowed the brand to build a genuine audience connection, something which may not be achievable through ad campaigns alone.
Developing a content marketing mix that meets your business goals doesn’t have to strain your resources, nor does it require you to spend all of your budget chasing new trends. Whether you’re looking to improve your search engine ranking, grow brand awareness, generate more demand, strengthen relationships with existing customers, or all of the above, using these four do’s and don’ts will help you overcome common industry pain points and meet your marketing goals.
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Featured image attribution: Rathish Gandhi