It’s an easy trap to fall into – we’re so busy creating content that we can lose sight of exactly why we are we are doing it.
Sure, it’s rewarding to get clicks and follows, and to stretch our creative muscles, but ultimately the goal of all our effort is to, as the Content Marketing Institute puts it, “attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Is your content doing that? If not, read on for five tips that can help make it happen.
1. Focus on something bigger than yourself
“If you don’t know the driving reasons behind your actions, you’ll struggle to consistently work toward your goals,” writes Daniel Marlin at Entrepreneur. “The same holds true for growing your following. People tend to shy away from brands and content they perceive to be self-serving. If you want to stand out online, do some soul-searching and align yourself with ideals that your audience feels passionately about.”
It’s no accident that when you think of brands like Ben and Jerry’s or TOMS, you immediately associate them with social activism – their brands (and the content that promotes them) are carefully crafted to do just that. They are less about the founders and more about what the founders believe in, and how they translate their beliefs into action. As a result, both brands have legions of loyal, like-minded followers.
If you can consistently link your content to something you are passionate about, you may be on your way to becoming the next Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield or Blake Mycoskie, who founded TOMS.
2. Be a storyteller
“Fantastic writing and storytelling will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to your competition,” writes Alex York on the Sprout blog. “By telling better stories, you’re able to engage, entice and spark conversation with your audience. Your content management strategy should absolutely focus on getting readers talking about your brand.”
Use writers who can help your brand find and nurture its own voice, York suggests. “When your content has a unique voice that others in the industry will recognize, you know you have quality writers working for you.”
For more on storytelling, check out our post.
3. Do your research
“The most effective content is never about your company, your products or yourself,” writes Priyanka Desai at YourStory. “Instead, it starts with acknowledging a pain point and the best ways to solve it (including your solution). Putting your customers’ needs above your own builds trust.”
Without research, you risk wasting time and effort creating content that has no meaning to your readers, Desai suggests. “Research includes studying your competitors and understanding the market and your ideal customer’s problems.
Create content your customers demand instead of writing about what you think the readers want. The worst kind of content marketing starts with companies focused on showing how great their product or service is, instead of filling a void or addressing a clearly defined pain point.”
4. Build trust by using data
“In today’s digital media environment, trust can be hard to come by,” writes Dan Shewan on the WordStream blog. “With fact-checking and journalistic due diligence at all-time lows, it’s easy to see why so many readers have become reluctant to accept ‘facts’ as the cold, hard truth. That’s why it’s so important to back up your assertions with data.”
Shewan argues that using data should be as natural and commonplace as spellchecking.
“If you make a point, include statistics and facts to back it up. Similarly, if you cite data to make a point, be sure to cite it appropriately and, if possible, include a link to the original source. After all, you wouldn’t want somebody else using your data in their content without tipping their hat to your research, right?”
5. Always choose quality
“Growth from content marketing comes from quality, not quantity,” says Neil Patel at Outgrow. “Each post should add value. You’re better off publishing one absolutely amazing piece of content per month than publishing 30 mediocre posts. If you can publish more than one great post – fantastic! But always start with quality. Quality will always win.”
Poor content not only won’t help your brand, it can also damage it. Tony Delmercado, writing at ClearVoice, cites a survey in which 93 percent of respondents said high-quality content leads them to view the company producing it favorably — and 94 percent said poor content hurts their opinions of the brand producing it.
“If you want real engagement, your content needs to be stickier than trendy, easily generated listicles and repackaged blog posts,” writes Delmercado. “Critical thinkers are drawn to substantial subject matters written with snappy, compelling language. Write about something important, and make sure it’s well-researched.”