Why content marketing?
Content marketing is the new SEO — for the most part. That means, getting found online, even getting your ads to show up on the first page, relies heavily on content marketing. Content marketing also develops your reputation and gives buyers a reason for choosing YOU over your competitors.
Content marketing, when effectively tied to a sound Social Media Marketing strategy (SMM), develops a buzz about your brand, gains recommendations that REALLY influence buyers (buyers increasingly ignore brand messaging in favor of even strangers’ brand recommendations), and develops your brand’s personality.
Lessons from the content marketing periodic table
Just like advice for shopping your local grocery store to buy the healthiest foods, cruise the perimeter of the periodic table and get that right before you jump into the center containing less healthy, but really tasty prepared foods.
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That means spending a LOT of time developing your content marketing strategy and setting goals for your content marketing. I know. It’s more fun to start hangin’ with your peeps on Facebook or Tweeting out stuff. But, without an overarching strategy, you’re wasting your time and MONEY.
As an example, I recently took on a new client who’d spent a lot of money on Facebook advertising. I forced him to take a step back to focus on goals and strategies to achieve those goals and STOPPED his Facebook advertising. He was really unhappy because he’d developed a strong group of Facebook fans and felt scared about changing.
Changing your social media strategy isn’t fun and it isn’t fast. It’s like changing the course of a ship in the middle of the ocean and we know how well that worked when the Titanic encountered an unexpected iceberg. But, the client eventually realized their expensive efforts on Facebook weren’t getting them any closer to their overarching goals.
Now, a couple of months into the strategy reset, we’re focusing on corporate goals with our content marketing strategy. We’re now curating content as well as creating more content designed to reach goals. The biggest change has been in the advertising strategy on Facebook where we’re now focusing advertising dollars on activities that reach our goals. Rather than just creating ads, we’re targeting them to folks our analytics tell us are engaging in behaviors that reach our goals — like becoming members — rather than simply expanding the fan base.
In fact, analytics showed us the majority of existing fans DIDN’T help us reach our goals. That’s required an overhaul in our strategies for gaining new followers. There’s lots more to do, but the clients now sees the value of prioritizing efforts to focus on strategy and goals first.
Creating great content
Across the bottom, you’ll find critical elements about creating great content.
Ask yourself, what interests you when see content online?
You want something representing value — something entertaining, informative, interesting, or something that solves your problem. Creating content that’s boring, poorly written, superficial, lacks research and insights, ugly … doesn’t help your brand image. So, spend some time crafting your content marketing to give readers something they’ll value.
And, don’t talk about your brand. No one wants to hear how wonderful you are.
But, great content doesn’t just serve up value to your community. It has to think about on page SEO, research and crediting other sources of information, formatting to make the post appealing (adding images and chunking text to make it more scanable), headline optimization (and calls to action, if used), and finally thinking about device optimization — will your content look good when visitors use a mobile device, tablet, and desktop computer.
If you’re an ecommerce site, visitors likely use multiple devices before consummating a sale. You’ll need to ensure the experience is not only optimized for each individual device, but that the devices work well together — creating a seamless experience for connected consumers.
Measure, analyze, decide
Wow, what a good title for a book — in fact, I have a book with that title and you can grab the introduction and 1st chapter here.
Continuing our trip around the perimeter of the periodic table of content marketing — let’s look at metrics.
A few words about what you measure — tie it to your goals!
Now, back to our regularly scheduled message –
How do you measure? Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Pinterest Insights, Twitter Analytics, …
I monitor clients’ analytics EVERY DAY. More importantly, when I see an anomaly or when we’ve tried something new, I investigate the metrics to understand WHY we achieved a certain value and what the value means for our future plans.
Thus, we complete the chain of measuring results, analyzing the whys, and finally deciding how results impact our future plans.
What to write about?
Anyone who’s stared at a blank piece of paper — today a blank screen — knows how hard it is to create content on a consistent basis. Creating a content marketing calendar helps a lot.
You can create content on how-tos, surveys, lists, demonstrations, expert advice, and lots of other options exist for creating great content. In my own unscientific observation, demonstrations, how-tos, and lists tend to have legs — meaning they get picked up by other websites more frequently. So do infographics, obviously.
Reading widely really helps. I spend hours a day reading both posts and news related to social media and marketing in general and trending topics so I keep up with what the rest of the world is up to. I set up a Feedly feed containing feeds from some really great colleagues.
Headlines are critical, as they’re what shows up in search and when you share on social networks. So, is using subtle forms of influence.
One thing to think about is repurposing your existing content. This really helps with being consistent. If you do a webinar, repurpose it on your blog. If you do a presentation, share on Slideshare and on your blog. Sometimes I’ll take a blog and create a video using the same information. Another good option is to package a bunch of related blog posts together to create an ebook on the topic — check out my content marketing ebook.
Inside the content marketing periodic table we find all the tactical elements of content marketing — using platforms and actually writing/creating content. Here you need very specific skills — writing, graphic design, video editing, photography … A good agency or content marketing department contains individuals with these skills who work closely in teams.
Community Managers, who create and curate content using a content marketing calendar developed between the Account Executive (who also monitor analytics), Community Manager and the client, manage content marketing. Community Managers coordinate other assets, such as videos, podcasts, infographics and graphics with the creative department; detailing needs and setting deadlines to ensure the content is complete based on the content marketing calendar. Community Managers research and write content, curate content, share content, and manage engagement on various social platforms. For more sophisticated clients, content goes through an editor.
Critical elements involve knowing how various social platforms work and knowing which types of posts work best on each platform. Inside the periodic table of content marketing also involves developing insights about your target market (personas), especially understanding how your target market responds to influence efforts.
Now, I really like the look and interpretation of the periodic table of content marketing, but I created my own infographic a few years ago containing many of the same elements.
Here it is: (I’d love to hear your feedback)
I want to thank Chris Lake at eConsultancy for creating this incredible infographic on content marketing — select the image to make it bigger.