Content. Content. Content. You hear that ambiguous word pop up in every conversation about marketing. It’s even strung together as content marketing.
What is Content?
You probably have an idea of what it is, but if asked to define it, you might stumble for words that nail it down.
The dictionary and Wikipedia do content justice in their definitions. The dictionary defines it as something to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of the various arts. According to Wikipedia, content is what the end user gains value from, referring to the information provided.
To put content marketing in context for small business owners, it is the message you send out to the world about your product, service and company AND it gives information to those who see or read it about your product, service and company. That information AND the tone of the writing influences people’s knowledge and opinion. Content marketing influences buying decisions and drives interaction with a brand.
From a freeway billboard to a video and from a direct mail postcard to a social media post, content is everywhere we look. People are bombarded with content, ignoring thousands of content messages a day. Content is only effective when it catches people’s attention. Content marketers go to great lengths to create appealing content. But people get bored with content they’ve already seen or know, which can lead to “been there, done that, next.”
Everyone loves a good story though. To be a great marketer today, you have to be a great storyteller. Tell the unique story behind your product, service and brand and you won’t have to compete for eyeballs among content clutter because there is something different about your small business. You just have to tell the story of what makes you different, better, etc.
Where Should You Post Your Marketing Content?
Like the dictionary states, all content is expressed through some medium. Your first medium should be your blog. It serves as your content marketing library. Don’t stop there. You’ve invested time and effort into creating a compelling story, so put it in front of as many people as possible. The more mediums you use, the more exposure your content gets.
First, choose your medium based on where your target audience is most likely to be. If you’re selling B2B, LinkedIn is the obvious choice. If you’re selling B2C, Facebook is a natural choice. YouTube works for both B2B and B2C. Consider Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms if they match your audience and objective.
Second, your content may need to be repurposed to fit a medium. A blog post can transform into an e-newsletter, an infographic, a podcast, a video, a slide deck, etc. and vice versa. Some mediums (like Facebook and LinkedIn) will need a little bit of teaser copy to entice viewers to click through to read more on your website.
Speaking of website traffic…
Third, always link your content on any medium back to your website. If the content is a part of a special campaign, create a unique landing page that drives home your message with a form or another call to action to increase conversions.
Some mediums outside the usual channels include: SlideShare for presentations, Vimeo for video, Medium for blogs, your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, publications for articles online or print, and Quora for specific expertise to name a few.
How Often Should You Post Content?
How often you post content is a decision of quality over quantity. Creating quality content takes resources, but it is easier when you stick to telling your story. You know it better than anyone.
When quality over quantity wins, aim to post longer pieces of content (1200 to 1600 words) at least once or twice a month. Repurpose those pieces into smaller tidbits for posting on social media channels. Snap photos of events that reflect your brand and culture for visually-based mediums like Instagram.
Keep in mind that mediums and platforms frequently change their algorithms. Whatever you post will only be seen by a small percentage of your followers/fans/friends/connections. To reach a wide and targeted audience, regularly send out an e-newsletter to your contact list that compiles a month’s or quarter’s content into a cohesive channel. If your contacts miss your content on another channel, they’ll have it their inbox.
To stay on schedule, use a content calendar to plan out your content. Include possible topics, the medium, the reason for it and publishing dates at minimum.
How Many Words Should Your Content Be?
I had a college professor once who said, “Think of your paper like a woman’s skirt. It should be long enough to cover the details and short enough to keep interest.” Possible sexist overtones aside as this was said many years ago, this applies to your content. Again, quality.
Considering the sheer amount of content people are exposed to on a daily basis, forego the fluff and get to the point. Again, tell your story. Some mediums, like Twitter, dictate the length of your content. Search engines, like Google, encourage giving their spiders longer pieces of content to crawl and index. There are numerous studies comparing length of content to performance. There are just as many outcomes and theories as there are studies, so stick to the professor’s advice and you won’t go wrong.
Should Content Include Video?
Yes, video is an increasingly important part of content. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, coming in behind Google. Creating video used to be a big production, but technology advancements have made it much easier. Done creatively, even phones can be used to shoot footage nowadays.
Include closed captioning when possible so that search engines can crawl and index the text.
In marketing, first comes the website. Next comes content. Content’s role is to tell your story and drive traffic to your site. With so many mediums at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever for your content marketing to connect with people.