Content marketing is suddenly popular, with businesses around the world either pumping more of their marketing budget into it, or creating whole new jobs around it for their senior managers. So it’s all good.

Or is it? There are dark times ahead for anyone who wants to invest time and money into content marketing without the most important aspect in place first. That aspect is direction. Unless each piece of content has a clear focus, it will never get to the destination, which is, for want of  a better word, ‘shareability’.

For a piece of content, whether its an infographic or a blog post, to really become sharable and therefore transform into a mini marketing tool all of itself, three key elements need to be in place. Consider them waypoints, if you will, towards the goal of shareability.

If you’re out on an expedition, a waypoint is everything. When the rain has come in, and conditions are worsening, a waypoint guides you towards your destination. If you’re travelling unfamiliar territory, waypoints get you to where you want to be.

Here are three waypoints you need to reach before you can consider your piece of content marketing to be something that is ready for distribution.

Is the content obviously valuable?

Does the content solve a problem for the reader? Does it help them to take action that pushes them towards a goal? If it does, then you can say that your content is valuable. From list posts that give facts that are important to the reader, to opinion pieces that bring clear insight, every piece of content has to offer value to the readership you are sharing it with.

Is the content engaging?

You need to be fun and entertaining. You need to speak to the audience, but speak to them in a fun and creative way that they won’t forget. This gives you a voice and separates you from the horde.

Take infographics. Infographics are all the rage right now and they can really grab your attention, linger in your memory and generally be fun and entertaining.

Get attention, keep attention, and make content engaging.

Is the content different?

We all love list posts, but they don’t have to be everywhere. If your content has a clear voice, or a different angle, or even just an incredibly innovative headline, you have a chance of being different. If you can’t quite do that, make an infographic that doesn’t look like an infographic (work it out, it makes sense) or a video that seems off-topic until the last three seconds. The more creative you are, and the more different you are, the more your stuff will be shared.

Use these 3 waypoints on your content marketing journey and you’ll soon find that people are visiting your site, becoming fans and followers, and generally wanting to find out more about your product or service.

Content marketing can be a long game. But if you do it right, and stay focused on the right waypoints, pretty soon you’ll find yourself where you want to be.