Producing quality content is like competing in the Olympics: if it were easy, everyone would do it. With the bar set high in an increasingly saturated Internet, here are 20 tips that will help whip your content into shape in 2014.
Know Your Goal
Creating content means putting in hard work, so knowing what you’re working toward is vital. Are you improving brand perception? Building a following? Engaging your customers? Before you write another word this year, focus on what you hope to accomplish, and your efforts will benefit for it.
Know Your Audience
Purpose is only part of the picture; your words must resonate with those whom you hope to reach. Since your company and content cannot be everything to all people, identify the audience you wish to write to, and understand their unique circumstances, perspective, and mentality.
Find Their Home
Each audience interacts in a different way. Younger individuals are finding a home on Instagram, Vine, and Twitter, while professionals are actively using LinkedIn. One platform or combination of platforms is likely to resonate more than others, so determine where your audience exists, and focus your distribution there.
Content is not simply about a single impression, it’s about building a following, and engagement is what facilitates this loyalty. With the proper social networking channels identified, become a part of the conversation. Answer questions, provide follow-up, and get the ball rolling in order to give your work extra social momentum.
Some pieces will resonate more than others, but gauging that success can be challenging. Fortunately, tracking analytics and even social networking metrics have developed to provide a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t. Monitor site traffic, likes, comments, bounce rates, and return visitors in order to glean a deeper insight into the effectiveness of content.
Once informative data is obtained, its value lies in its application. Once you’ve determined what your audience likes, build more success from that insight. If your holiday fashion lookbook was a success, prepare one for the Spring and Fall as well. Your audience will tell you what they want, it’s your job to listen.
Speaking of telling you what they want, sometimes the easiest way to create resonant content is to simply ask. Readers love the opportunity to shape the direction of the publications they rely on, so soliciting their input is an opportunity to farm ideas, increase engagement, and satisfy your base, all in one fell swoop.
Identify Your Specialty
Writing quality content doesn’t take a PhD in one subject or another, but your unique perspective in your industry means that that’s effectively what you have. Your insight is what should drive your content, allowing you to deliver information that no one else can. Don’t miss the opportunity to use your own strengths when it matters most.
Find Your Voice
In addition to your specific knowledge, your business is not the same as others. You have different staff members, a different approach, and, as a result, a different voice. Rote fact sheets and information have their worth, but readers want a human face, and adding your voice to the work will keep them from feeling bored.
Content on the Internet is rarely, if ever, consumed without purpose. Readers and viewers don’t spend their scarce time digesting media unless they believe they’ll get something out of it. With each piece, make sure you satisfy that need by delivering something of worth, whether it’s gardening tips or stock picks.
Keep It Short
The Internet reader is busy, and unless they came to you looking for a long, academic discussion, they’re likely just looking for something digestible. With this in mind, it’s important to keep things readable. That’s not to say you should cut out any value, simply condense your information so that readers get what they want, efficiently.
Keep it Light
Along with manageable length and a relatable voice, Internet reading should generally be light. Deliver substance, but avoid subjects or tone that are too heavy for casual readers, unless the content calls for it (which it rarely does).
Readers spend time reading, of course, but every piece you create requires an investment by you and yours. With this in mind, choosing the right format can help cut the time required of both parties down. Bulleted and numbered lists avoid the need for challenging transitions, saving you writing time, and present information in a scannable format, allowing readers to find what they want and move on.
Do Your Research
Adding hard figures to your content provides two benefits. The first is credibility. Those reading your content are more likely to trust you if you demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. The second is fact checking. Taking a position as a business can be tricky territory, so getting your facts straight is essential to avoiding a PR snafu.
Though many of these tips apply to writing, text is not the only format of value in content marketing. Video, in particular, is seeing a surge of popularity in the New Year due to its digestibility and the capacity for brand expression. Text is generally the backbone of your content, but branching out into video, infographics, and audio, can keep your audience on their toes.
Share Your Best
While many believe that you should save your best for later, this strategy has a tendency to backfire. When currying a following, each post should be a “home run”, which means providing your best, right now. Holding back will only delay the readership you seek, and make your strong posts down the road less successful.
Read Other Blogs
One thing is for certain in the world of content: you are far from the only one facing the challenges you experience. Thousands of firms and writers are looking to take their business blog to the next level, so observing their success for your own learning is simply good practice. Much like web designers look at the source code of successful websites, you too should emulate the success of strong writers to improve your own skills.
The goals you set earlier are merely a conduit for conversion. As a business blog, your efforts should work to facilitate your larger business goals, and that means turning favorable sentiment into action. Add a button at the bottom of each posts to invite email subscriptions, or incentivize such conversion with access to exclusive content and product offers. In all efforts, focus on turning content into action in order to breed success from success.
Make a Statement
It may be tempting to sit on the fence and avoid creating waves with your content, but this should not be your aim if you hope to make an impact. If your company sells vitamin supplements, your work should take a pro-supplement stance when covering new FDA regulations. Without a measure of conviction, your content will appear wishy-washy, and little conversation arises from a tepid tone.
Regardless of your specific content and subject matter in 2014, consistency should be priority #1 Your publishing schedule should be met so that readers keep coming back. Your tone should be the same in order to build a reputation. In all things, establish consistent, good habits, and your audience and brand reach will reap the rewards.
A New Year means fresh starts and your content can benefit from a little time at the gym. Focus on knowing your audience and how to reach them, tap this information to provide web-optimized content, and make an impact with your tone, voice, and stance. With the potential of content marketing proven every day, these tips can help whip your text, tweets, and videos into shape and make your business blog shine in 2014.