Concept of vision in businessThere’s a lot we can learn from the movers and shakers of the content marketing world. These insights make perfect fodder for your own program as you move forward into 2013.

In the recent Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs research on content marketing budgets, benchmarks and trends, we asked participants to name providers who are doing content marketing particularly well. What do these content marketing innovators do well, and how can you take those ideas with you into the new year?

Here are seven tricks you can learn from content marketing trendsetters and apply to your 2013 strategy.

Create partnerships to reach more people

Forming relevant partnerships is an age-old marketing technique that you can put to good use in your content marketing. By partnering up, you can reach new audience members. Partnering doesn’t always require you to find a match within your industry; all you need to share is a target audience.

Boston venture capitalists OpenView Partners infuses partnerships into its extensive content marketing strategy. Recently, the company partnered with Salesforce to develop a day-long executive sales and operations best practices workshop, a move that should help extend the VC firm’s reach to a wider audience and help increase brand loyalty among current customers.

Tip: Partner with complementary brands that cater to your audience. You may have some overlap in the followers you reach, but you’ll also put your brand in front of fresh eyes.

Recycle your content across all channels and media

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: recycle your content. Chances are your brand maintains a number of channels and media types. An eBook equals five blog posts. Turn that content into a live webinar. Record the video and post it on YouTube. Put the presentation on SlideShare. You get the idea.

Tech giant Cisco just launched its “Internet of Everything,” which is a great example of how to repurpose content. It includes the following:

Tip: Diversify your channels and find your audience. Stretch your content to go further for your brand by saving resources and increasing your visibility.

SlideShare is B2B content marketing’s hot asset

Are your social media channels proving elusive? If one content marketing asset has taken center stage in 2012, it’s SlideShare.

Salesforce maintains an extremely active SlideShare presence. With nearly 400 presentations uploaded, the software company typically registers thousands of views for each piece of content.

SlideShare gets more than 60 million visits and 120 million page views monthly. According to a recent LeadFormix study, C-level executives use SlideShare 40 percent more often than they use LinkedIn. CMI recently found that 23 percent of B2B content marketers surveyed use SlideShare. Expect that number to increase in 2013.

Tip: Establish a SlideShare account and give new life to content like white papers, eBooks, and PowerPoint presentations.

Put your followers to work

Constant content creation quickly becomes a headache for a marketer who wears many hats. Several brands have successfully turned the burden of content creation over to their customers.

American Express OPEN Forum is a prime example of the power user-generated content can wield in a marketing program. The online community has amassed a large following of small business owners and marketers who churn out helpful content regularly.

AmEx isn’t the only major brand harnessing the voices of audience members for content marketing. Starbucks maintains My Starbucks Idea, a website where customers come to share their ideas for new products.

Amazon has done this for years with lists powered by Listmania.

Nike is a newcomer to the scene with Nike+, a new online community where athletes get social about fitness.

Tip: Your content can always encourage your followers to join the conversation, even if you don’t have the resources or know-how to add community-oriented features like forums or user profiles. Encourage audience members to speak up through comments sections and social media channels.

Keep a consistent schedule

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve read the words, “Keep a consistent schedule,” and it won’t be the last. It’s also one of the most important things you can do as a content marketer outside of creating truly valuable content. And it’s one of the things that the top content marketing brands do very well.

IBM’s Midsize Insider churns out consistent content during the week. Readers are conditioned to expect several new posts per day, and the brand delivers. Adobe’s is another great example of how brands build an audience by continually launching new content.

Tip: Keep an editorial calendar that looks three months ahead, and make detailed content plans at least a month in advance.

Bite-sized content is ultra shareable

Many of us aspire to writing the definitive book on our market, to build a personal reputation or the reputation of a brand. Any writer will tell you that writing a book is all about writing a little bit at a time.

Write your book. But write it in bite-sized pieces. Share it little by little. Get that mix of validation and disagreement that you need to know that your content hits home with readers.

Whole Foods has a very specific, purposeful short-form content strategy: sharing recipes. With nearly 3,000 recipes in the popular supermarket’s database, customers get useful snippets that are simple to share and hang onto for future use. Built-in social sharing buttons ease how content spreads. Onsite rating and sharing helps establish a community feel, consistent with the Whole Foods brand.

Tip: Share sound bites from executives and other short-form content that is consistent with your brand voice. Quick-hit information is a shorter time investment for readers and may gain you new followers.

Got the resources? Get the numbers

Already have an audience you can tap into? Mining data on your audience is crucial for shaping a strong content marketing strategy. But it’s more than that; it’s an opportunity to share key findings within your content.

Consulting firm Booz & Company leverages its portfolio of prominent clients to create research reports like this one on mergers and acquisitions. It helps that Booz & Co. has the right connections and resources. But the original research it produces earns the brand major credibility and plenty of unique fuel for content.

Original research is a major part of how we drive fresh content here at the Content Marketing Institute. For example, we have teamed up with MarketingProfs for the past three years to produce research on content marketing budgets, benchmarks and trends for B2B and B2C.

Tip: Survey customers and followers to check in with your audience and collect useful information for shaping strategy and driving content creation.

Speak up

What other national brands are setting the tone for content marketers everywhere? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

For more great tips from brands that are setting the trends in content marketing, read CMI’s Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples.

Cover image via Bigstock.