In internet marketing, the origin of the “Content is King” mantra is highly contested: should it be attributed to tech visionary, Bill Gates, or entertainment mogul, Sumner Redstone?

While we’re at it, we might as well give credit where credit is due: Redstone for coining the buzz phrase first, and Gates for highlighting it in a 1996 essay he penned about how content will dominate the internet.

They were both right. But that’s beside the point of affirming the value of content marketing to your business. When done effectively, content marketing can help you drive more traffic and engage your audience on a deeper level, building relationships through trust and authority.

Unfortunately, many traditional marketing practitioners still resort to so-called “old school zombie tactics,” which involves creating content that has little value and relevance, and relies heavily on keyword stuffing. Google doesn’t look too kindly on these practices, so it’s best to do the “right” thing if you want your content to effectively support your brand’s marketing efforts.

Which Content Types Stand Out?

Since content marketing is by and large a medium of communication, whereby the end goal is to influence your audience to complete an action, you’ll likely be appreciated for sharing anything that:

Entertains. Entertaining content tends to be underrated, as it’s perceived to be impractical or even irrelevant. The truth is, entertaining content makes your message more appealing to users. Not just because it makes your content fun to consume, but also because it makes your brand more relatable. I’m sure we all know that all work and no play makes Jack bored and likely to move on.

Educates. Content that provides consumers with practical information that addresses an issue or concept belongs to this category. Generally speaking, educational content is related to the particular industry that a brand operates in. The value lies in building a name for your brand and enhancing your brand identity as an authority in your niche.

Inspires. To create inspirational content, you can showcase stories that chronicle the success of your brand or highlight your corporate values in a way that touches on human interest and emotion. You can also choose to include those traditional motivational quotes over black-and-white photos in the mix. As clichéd as they are, they can work wonders when it comes to striking an emotional chord.

Initiates conversions. The more people talk about your brand, the more relevant it’ll become. Content that initiates conversations can be as simple as asking your audience a relevant question. You can also surf the wave of popular culture to get your brand’s name out there. Talking about Taylor Swift or Pokemon Go may be considered a shameless tactic, but it works to get eyes on your content. Finally, you can create content that’s provocative. Controversial content is always more like to inspire conversation because everyone loves a good squabble.

Content Types that Drive Traffic and Engagement

  1. Brand Stories

We’ve reached a point whereby every marketer needs to be a great storyteller. These stories showcase the cultural aspect of your company. They’re great for showing the “human” side of brands that people might not see otherwise. They’re commonly inspirational and educational at the same time, which is great for engagement. It’s also impossible for competitors to duplicate (because everyone’s got a different story), providing a competitive advantage for the publishing brand.

This brings to mind the story that Google India created about a granddaughter who made it possible for her old man to be reunited with his long-lost friend “with a little help from Google Search.” This was a powerful brand message that served to build Google’s reputation as a company that cares.

  1. List Posts

List Posts

They’re undoubtedly an omnipresent aspect of the content marketing world. Lists posts (or listicles) are popular because progressing either in an ascending or descending order is the most convenient and rationale thing to do when it comes to making sense of concepts. They make content easier to comprehend and also facilitate article scanning, for those who might experience the TL;DR phenomenon.

Although some might think they’re oversaturated, the bottom line is that they get results. Our brains crave specificity, and nothing satisfies that craving more than a good ol’ numbered list.

  1. Original Reports

Business Reports

These reports make use of primary data to gauge trends in a particular industry. Conduct your own research to gather relevant data and present your findings, along with nifty visual aids such as graphs and tables to make your report more comprehensible.

This type of content may be harder to produce (due to the potentially demanding research phase), but it can give your brand great mileage when it comes to establishing yourself as a thought-leader and authoritative figure within your industry. Original research also makes it hard for competitors to replicate your success.

  1. Infographics


Infographics are hugely popular because they have the conciseness that today’s time-strapped readers are looking for. In an infographic format, you can break down complex content into smaller, digestible parts. It’s a versatile type of content that you can utilize whether you want to educate, entertain, or even inspire your audience.

Infographics don’t always have to be directly related to your company or product offering. Brands have experienced success by covering an assortment of topics. This popular infographic by DataThreads illustrates the highly-controversial topic of: “I’m cooler than you because…”

  1. Memes

Leonardo Di Caprio Meme

Entertaining pictures with humorous overlayed captions can accomplish so much more than provide amusement. They can inject much-needed personality into your content, not to mention you can subtly introduce your brand without being too pushy. The best memes are incredibly relatable and can help establish a good rapport with your readers by humanizing your message.

  1. SlideShare Presentations

These presentations let you tell your story through a series of slides with complementary visuals. This makes your message easier to digest and provides an opportunity to showcase your knowledge in a visually compelling way. Presentations are great modes for delivering educational messages, that’s why they haven’t changed much since long before the days of Microsoft PowerPoint.

Many marketers will include a CTA on their SlideShare because they know this type of content can very well elicit shares among communities or networks.

  1. User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content

Content created by independent users makes for a truly engaging interaction with your fan base, especially those who don’t have second thoughts about voicing out their sentiments online.

Apart from testimonials, you can ask your audience to contribute content to your site and social media page through something like question-of-the-day mechanics. Once you publish user-generated content, you can expect it to be shared on a user’s own pages, those of their friends, and so on.

A great example of UGC marketing is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. They leveraged the power of UGC to boost their relevance and build relationships with an incredible amount of fans.

  1. How-To Guides

How-to Guides

These educational pieces can be extremely useful because they provide step-by-step tutorials to address a particular problem. This content may be rather exhaustive, so make sure to break it up with a good mix of text and visuals. These instructional guides are commonly used by marketers to build relevant contact lists and build a brand’s subscriber base.

  1. Videos


Many established marketers agree that videos are the future of content marketing. They easily go viral because people like sharing content that they can quickly consume. Just think about Kickstarter for example. How many campaigns have successfully engaged their audiences because they used a compelling video?

The truth is, videos are likely to be the future of content marketing. Their uncanny ability to drive engagement has been proven time and time again. So if you aren’t using videos as part of your content marketing strategy yet, maybe it’s time you got on board.

  1. GIFs

Miami Vice GIF

Like memes, GIFs are a fun way to inject personality into your content. They can help break up the monotony if you’re talking about technical stuff, and a visual approach can accomplish so much more than a text-based presentation. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The animated aspect of GIFs make them more effective than images, while their short-but-sweet nature makes them cheaper to produce than videos. More importantly, they speak the internet’s language, allowing your brand to engage with your audience on their level.

Final Thoughts

While long-form content is not outrightly undesirable, we all need to come to terms that people’s preferences are changing and evolving. They want high-quality content but want it to be capable of being absorbed as quickly as possible. They appreciate a good laugh and are looking for an honest-to-goodness brand of service from businesses they support.

If you can deliver content that fits into these customer-oriented perspectives, then you can momentarily kick back and watch your brand start forging higher and better levels of engagement with your audience.