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Here’s the truth: Whether or not your company has a formal content marketing plan, you are putting a message out there to the public. The blogs you publish, the updates you Tweet, the photos you post—All of these pieces of content contribute to your online image. Do you know what your content marketing is saying about you? Here’s why it matters.
Content Marketing 101
If you’re new to the idea of content marketing, be encouraged. It’s just what it sounds like: Marketing that revolves around putting out content to attract a specific audience and get them to do something (i.e., sign up, tune in, make a purchase, join a team, etc.). Content marketing is often used to build a brand’s exposure, improve public relations, and/or bring in new sales.
Formats of Content Marketing
Content marketing includes any and all forms of content, from YouTube videos to blog posts to Facebook status updates. Consider these examples, which are just a few of the types of content out there:
- Blog Posts: Many people think blog posts are the “it” of content marketing—and for good reason. Blogs are excellent content marketing tools, allowing brands to churn out large volumes of content related to specific keywords that increase their search rankings over time.
- Books and Ebooks: When you publish a book or an Ebook, you communicate a sense of authority and expertise that your audience notices. Plus, not only does the publication up your credibility, but it also exposes you to new audiences.
- Images: Words aren’t the only form of content marketing; in fact, pictures may be even more powerful. That’s why smart brands use attractive images to amplify their messages and grab users’ attention.
- Infographics: Make large amounts of information easier to understand by putting them into custom infographics that communicate data clearly and easily.
- Video: Distinguish your brand by using video—the ideal format for interviews, how-to guides, testimonials, and more.
- Social Media Updates: Content on social media takes many forms, from Twitter updates to Facebook pictures to Instagram photos. All are effective content marketing avenues.
The above list only scratches the surface of different content formats—but do you notice what they all have in common? All of these forms of communication may be things you’re already doing, whether or not you have a strategy in place.
Content Marketing on the Rise
According to EContent Mag, content marketing is ever on the rise among businesses—with 79% of marketers reporting that their companies are intentionally moving more and more towards branded content. But even the companies that aren’t strategizing about their content are communicating to customers with what they publish. The main question on the table is: “How well?”
Good Content Marketing vs. Bad Content Marketing
To be most effective, content marketing should be backed by a strategy.
Savvy marketers set specific goals and create content to achieve those goals. So how do you begin to be intentional about your content marketing when the concept still feels new? What’s the secret to making your content marketing successful? Here are some tips.
- Set Specific Goals. Figure out what you want your content to accomplish—Increase followers on social profiles? Bring in new website traffic? Strengthen brand recognition? Bring in new sales? Then nail down your two or three main goals and make them specific in terms of measurability and timelines. For example, rather than aiming for “more traffic,” shoot for “20% increase in unique visitors in 30 days.”
- Research Keywords. Before publishing content, research which keywords will make it most effective in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). You can hire professionals to put their expertise to work for you, or you can try to learn on your own, using tools like Google Keyword Tool, which is part of Adsense.
- Research Your Audience. Before you create content, you need to know your audience. Whether you tap into Google Analytics for some general demographic info, Facebook Page Insights for fan data, or a more comprehensive resource like a marketing firm’s research, use what you find to target your readers. When you know to whom you’re writing, it’s easier to reach them.
- Plan Content Accordingly. Create content backed by your goals and research, and publish it. Your strategy may include any number of content formats, depending on your comfort with those formats and your knowledge of what suits your needs.
- Analyze and Adjust. Pay close attention to how your content performs, and then adjust accordingly. When fans consistently respond to Facebook status updates, for example, find ways to use those updates to work towards your goals.
Is content marketing something you’ve already given attention to, or have you considered it out of your reach? Like it or not, you already are content marketing, whenever you publish content for the public. What that content achieves is up to you.