The best recommendations in life are usually those we ask for. What’s a great lunch spot in the neighbourhood? Where should I go on holidays? What new music should I check out? But a great recommendation we haven’t asked for tends to be rarer. It’s a problem the awesome folks at Outbrain aim to solve every single day for people browsing the web - more than six billion times per day, actually.
Content marketing is a phrase that can no longer be escaped, but what does it mean? In short, it means creating entertaining, shareable, high-quality posts which will engage your audience, pique interest in your brand, and keep your brand name top of mind. It’s not just about churning out endless content though, it has to be real, authentic, and backed by passion.
In order to create this great content – be it an article for your blog, a post on your social media page, or a video for your YouTube channel – there are few things that can quickly shift you from ho-hum to blast-o.
1: Quality is a Must
We’re all human, but grammar and spelling mistakes are an easy way to lose credibility–and your audience fast. Make sure that before you press “post” you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.
2. Keep it compelling
When writing, it’s easy to unwittingly create big chunks of text that will have people skimming to the end, or worse, losing interest after the first sentence. Zzzzzzz.
Keep readers interested and awake – by limiting your prose to 5-6 paragraphs of text per page, and go ahead and add in some high-quality images, too – it's great chance to show off all your fab photos!
High-quality content doesn’t just mean written posts. Get your creative juices flowing by using videos, slideshows, photos, and even playlists of your favourite jams. Switching it up like this keeps your audience on their toes and engaged.
3. Know Your Audience
Just like plain old vanilla vs. rocky road, different types of content appeal to different people. Make sure you know who you’re trying to reach and tailor your posts to connect with them from the get-go. Share as though you’re speaking directly to them -because you are!
Skip the pop-ups, background noise and distracting advertisements, and make it feel good for customers to interact with your brand.
Be ready for an encore. If your content is doing what it should, your audience will come back asking for more. Be ready with options for your audience to signup, provide feedback, or share your awesome content with others.
Be mindful of content ownership – no swiping! Make sure to link back to third parties, link back to the original post, identify and give credit to original sources, and provide original text/comments on curated content. Noone likes to brag, but everyone enjoys being credited for their hard work.
Be real, and be authentic. If you’re doing consumer stories, using real people and telling real stories will help connect you with your readers on a personal level and put a human face on your brand.
5. Your customer is your hero – make sure they know it!
Ann Handley writes: “Even if you sell something inherently boring like technology or toasters, focus on how your products or services touch people’s lives. By the way, when you are talking about people, a good rule of thumb is this: be specific enough to be believable and universal enough to be relevant.”
6. Make Sharing Easy
Remember to add (and use) social media sharing buttons wherever you can. If your audience loves your content, make it easy for them to say so! This is a great tool to get you started.
Make sure your brand name and links won’t be lost if your content gets shared across different social media channels. Why? Well, if one of your infographics goes viral, you’ll want to make sure that your name and logo have been indelibly inked on it somewhere.
Did the word “infographic” just cause you to break out into a cold sweat? Don’t worry, creating them doesn't have to be complicated, and there are tonnes of great free tools available – like Piktochart, Easelly, or Infogramto name a few. My absolute favourite is Canva, it allows you to create gorgeous visual content like posters, Instagram posts, and, yes, infographics.
it allows you to create gorgeous visual content like posters, Instagram posts, and, yes, infographics.
6. Get Grabby
When you share your content on social media or in link trades, spend a few moments creating eye-catching titles for your posts and pages. Checkout sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed – they are experts at titles that are creative, honest, and engaging without being sensationalist.
Earlier this year, we worked with HubSpot to research and collect some best practices on title length and word choices to determine what kinds of titles hit home with audiences.
We got so excited about it that we ended up publishing a whole e-book! It’s called Data Driven Insights for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines and it's a fantastic resource if you want hints about how to make the content you’re sharing more clickable.