Getting great source material for your content marketing efforts is one of the more exacting elements in the mix. Where are the facts and ideas in your content coming from? When it comes time to put fingertips to keyboard, you should back up the claims and hunches you use in your content with data, statistics and primary sources.
There is an overwhelming amount of web content that lacks source specificity. Too many new writers are grabbing a random stat or quoting a trend and throwing it into the content mix without proper attribution, background or context. Even though the web has evolved many standards when it comes to writing, lacking a source or citing something nebulous or hard to find should not be one of them.
Creating high-quality, valuable content for customers, employees and prospects can be a daunting challenge. But it’s up to top content strategists, PR-marketing professionals, and in-house managers to uncover great sources and reinvigorate your options for consistent and compelling content with a solid foundation.
Know Your Why!
Q: Why should you use great primary sources for content marketing?
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A: Without great sources, your content marketing efforts are likely to fall onto the shoulders (and brainpower) of one or maybe two individuals.
Coming up with fresh content every day for readers, customers and employees can become a high-stress pressure cooker that can easily break those not prepared. Instead of pushing them to the limit, learn how to utilize vetted resources (see below) and bring more beef to your content offerings.
And remember, SEO fans, Google likes specificity, authority, relevance and trustworthiness. By citing, linking correctly, and finding great primary sources, you increase all of those four things. And as we all know, people go back to read and consume content from people they like. People like people they can trust and count on.
Use the Resources
Some of your best resources exist online. The Web offers a ton of primary sources that can boost your content efforts, offer serious data and analysis to your readers, and position you and your team as experts in the chosen area of content specialty.
Here are a few tips and a checklist of content sources for you below. Using these on a consistent basis will help your team to become better research sleuths, hopefully better managers of information, and you will develop better aspects of that old trade once known as ‘journalism’. Use these to move your content needs forward and hit all your deadlines!
Source Discovery Resources:
TWITTER HASHTAGS: Do not discount the power of the Twitter hashtag. There are content ideas just waiting for you to grab onto. Search Twitter for your company mentions, industry conference news, client innovations, business rumors and more that can inform your content marketing.
Whenever I research a client’s content opportunities, Twitter is a go-to site. This is second nature to me, but it might be new to you. For example, maybe a suitable industry topic for a client might be #homeappliances (See screenshot below). A quick check of that day’s Twitter activity might lead me to consider new ideas, topical industry mentions, new products, or any other web-specific concerns that are suitable for future content creation related to home appliances.
REDDIT: As much as the interface drives you crazy, you can’t deny the power of the crowd at Reddit. If you need insider information on tech company stock tips, international intrigue, government misdeeds or fun historical photos that can enhance your content, then you’ve got to jump onto Reddit for your content marketing work.
CEO EXPRESS: Instead of jumping around the web to all your favorite major Web news outlets, why not find them all in one place at CEO Express? This veteran website offers links from hundreds of major media sites, business research statistics, social media intelligence links, app news and insights, small business resources, law, industry information and much more. By far, it’s one of my awesome go-to sites for content leads and ideation, fact double-checking and procrastination.
FEDSTATS: Looking for data and historical statistics for building up a strong content marketing case for a client? The site FedStats also has hundreds of links, alphabetically arranged, for you to use the best statistics from government health agencies, military veteran demographics or retail-wholesale industry tax statistics. If you’re working on content for your financial firm, insurance brokerage or healthcare organization, you’ll want to know about Fedstats.
ALLTOP: Another veteran of the digital landscape that’s incredibly handy for content marketing source material is Alltop. This brainchild of former Apple marketing whiz Guy Kawasaki, Alltop has been called ‘an information filter to help you find your nuggets of gold.’ Looking for the latest online info about recreational boating from boating sites? Alltop’s got that category covered. Need to find topical insights into credit unions? You can find that directly at the credit union link.
While Alltop ranks and finds content from Google search results, blog content, internal research and gut instincts, it’s gaining far more intuition on what to offer its visitors from Twitter insights. The site notes: “Let us declare something: The Twitter community has been the single biggest factor in the quality of Alltop. Without this group of mavens and connectors, Alltop would not be what it is today.”
VIRTUAL PUBLIC LIBRARY: This site is the new front page entry point to author and consultant Marcus Zillman’s longstanding Subject Tracers site, which lists content resources for business intelligence, entrepreneurial resources, social informatics, statistical resources, big data and much more. It’s a goldmine of primary source material that can and should apply to many content marketing writing and infographics work.
HARO: Not heard of HARO? This is the flipside of content marketing, an earlier evolution from the PR industry. Instead of seeking out online sources for your content, HARO (owned by Vocus) works on behalf of reporters and journalists to find content providers for THEIR stories. So if your company offers a game-changing software platform to maximize Facebook campaign results, for example, you can offer your top guy or gal to act as a source for reporters and journalists content. Alternatively, if you need a source for a niche topic, it’s easy to post a free listing and receive multiple inquiries.
Capture the Moments
Remember that last conference you attended on behalf of your company or a client? You sat in the audience or in the panel sessions, capturing notes, pics and videos on your iPad, phone or notebook. Did you use these content assets for your own content marketing after the show? Search Engine Watch shared a couple of ideas on using conference content for your own content. These tips included:
- Capture the desired presentation on video and audio to edit for use later
- Use a transcription service to text-ify the spoken presentation. Most of us prefer to read detailed topics rather than listen.
- Write a blog post to capture the key points in the spontaneity of the moment, and post that to your site, an industry site or a client’s site. Later use all the material from the presentation to create a larger article or analysis of the deeper topic described at the presentation.
Oftentimes, fresh, timely content comes out of these sessions and can give you a source that may only be available to your peers in the same audience. Take advantage of this direct source material and weave it into your content, showing at the same time that you are up to date and active within your industry.
Now, your team has done all the right work to craft compelling relevant content. When you’re putting all the sources into an article or infographic, it makes sense to use correct citation and attribution. For instance, if another site or blogger has written extensively on a particular subject for your content, don’t be afraid to use some of it. But make sure you use correct attribution. That builds trust with your audience that you’ve done your homework, relevance since you have found the best source for your points, and authority with search engines through your external linking. Hubspot’s blog recently had a great post about these tips on citing and attribution. It’s definitely worth a look.
How about you? What amazing new sources do you use on the web and elsewhere to kick start your ideation and put content topic ideas into overdrive? Leave a note in the comments and share with the community!