U.S. adults are spending an average of nearly 2.5 hours per day on social media. Time spent scrolling is only increasing, which means marketers need to find a way to cut through the clutter and demand attention. The good news is that there’s a way to obtain the attention your business deserves: with content that your audience finds valuable.
Whether informative or fun, content is the engine that drives everything we do. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In other words, content marketing breaks the mold of standard ads by delivering advertising in a subtler and more relevant way — through blog posts, articles, infographics and much more that will grab the attention of your audience. Content that is boring or repetitive or that fails in other ways to meet customers’ needs can do more harm than good.
Here are five guiding principles for building killer content strategies based on years of client optimization, channel proliferation and coming-of-age data:
1. Create once; publish everywhere — and repurpose often. In most cases, content is not one-and-done. It can be multipurposed and take on various forms depending on the distribution channel. While long-form articles or white papers are typically designed to be read on your website, bite-sized insights taken from longer content can be converted to graphics that will pair perfectly with social posts.
2. Stick to content that makes sense for your brand. Develop simple, direct and factual content that educates and informs on topics that make sense for your brand. Provide additional context with timely and appropriate responses to questions and comments. Becoming a reliable source of information is an important step in establishing trust. In contrast, hyperbole, clickbait and incorrect information can do far more damage to a reputation than good content can do to establish it. The same can be said for polarizing subjects, as well: Stay away from politics or heated news topics, especially if they have nothing to do with your brand.
3. Anticipate the needs of your audience in order to be most effective. Content should address your audience’s needs and provide a reason for them to continue engaging with your brand. Never miss an opportunity to use reach and engagement data to refine your approach and ensure that the type of content provided is valuable to your customers. Look across your channel analytics such as Google, your website, organic searches and social media, and determine what content resonates the most with your audience. By reviewing this data, you can better understand the topics your audience is most interested in.
4. Put your audience first. Center your customers as the hero of the content. Many brands ask us, “What should we tell our audiences about our brand?” We ask, “What do audiences want to know?” A consumer-centric approach is critical to success. Content marketing is a form of customer service that should build trust and support loyalty. Whether offline through call centers or online on social, quantify the most common questions your audience has, and then provide easily accessible answers to their needs. Once brands prioritize audience needs, they should see results as customers engage with content and share what they find valuable with their own communities.
5. Content must serve a greater purpose: to entertain, inform or engage. It is important to remember that while digital channels provide an environment for people to share and interact, brands can quickly ruin an experience with too much self-promotion. In fact, 71% of readers say they’re turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch. Provide a mixture of content that informs and entertains readers so they stay engaged and eager for more. Make your content worth your audience’s time.
A successful content strategy drives brand awareness, brand selection and brand loyalty by serving as key points of contact and engagement in your ongoing relationship with customers. When content successfully informs and connects with people emotionally, it will continually leave them wanting more.