People consume content. It has become an everyday affair. You Google information at work and entertainment after work. Since the world turned digital, content has been the mode of communication.
But since then, like all evolutionary changes, content has begun to climb a precarious peak. Back in 2008, Mark Zuckerberg predicted that the world would double its volume of content creation every year thereafter, and in 2017, we don't seem to be slowing down.
That isn't great news for marketers, who do ruin everything (inspired by Gary Vee's quote). Today's audience is overwhelmed by marketing communication. They are force-fed ads on television and certain digital channels, and are stalked by them everywhere else. Even their personal social media feeds haven't been spared by the invasion.
The number of pages indexed by Google has blown up over 30 times since 2008 (Source: Statistic Brain).
Facebook produces about 4 petabytes of fresh data each day (Source: Facebook).
Ogilvy believes that the organic reach of brand content on Facebook is headed towards point zero (Source: Ogilvy)
Ad block usage may more than double by 2020 (Source: Wells Fargo and Optimal.com)
Clearly, the content scenario is heading towards tougher times. How should marketers cope?
Today's audience is in need of a breath of fresh air, which is why authenticity and transparency have started appearing is marketing related discussions. How can a brand create engaging and authentic content? How should a marketer appeal to his/her audience?
You begin by understanding current audience tendencies and constantly reminding yourself of today's content landscape. If brand content is being suppressed, you need alternative organic distribution channels.
Today, a person like yourself (all of us, really) is considered the most influential and trustworthy spokesperson on the Internet, according to 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.
Brands need to recruit and activate their spokespeople to have clout in the current content scenario.
The number of apps, messengers, social networks and communities may have exploded, but people still possess the power to pick up a piece of information from one channel and dispel it into another - they are your high potential target channels who control your reach and engagement. As a content marketer, you need to figure out how you can coax them into action with your content marketing strategy.
Influencers are people with more power. They already have access to your target community and influence to affect their behaviors. You could invite influencers to interact with your content by:
Writing in-depth and well-researched posts that they might be interested in sharing or referring to on their posts
Wholesale Gold Group's Shrinking Dollar infographic was created on a very specific topic that his target audience (influential financial bloggers) were passionate about and discussed endlessly - the inflation. When he published it, the infographic was picked up by several of them and shared extensively.
Inviting them to share their expertise on your posts, podcasts or webinars
Featuring them on your posts or sharing their content
Recruit employees to participate in your content marketing efforts, that is. According to a Pardot report, interest in employee advocacy has increased by as much as 191 percent, indicating a quickly rising trend. You can active employees by:
Training them to build their personal brand on social networks, like StarBucks, IBM and Adobe are famously known to do
Content marketing need not be focused on product/service sales solely, you could also use it to build a powerful employer brand on social media - attracting several great job candidates.
Making it easy for them to access and share your content (a good employee advocacy platform can help streamline the process)
Recognizing and rewarding them for their efforts
You could use an employee advocacy guide to plan the specifics of your advocacy program.
Additionally, you can also request happy customers or niche community members (Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats and industry forums) to share your content, if you have great relationships with them.
Fresh content helps your website rank only when it creates an impact - attracts a ton of shares and/or backlinks. Otherwise, it simply sits on the back shelf and collects dust. In the race to create and post fresh content frequently, it is easy to get into the re-hashing habit, just to have something to post.
Remember that it isn't only search engines reading your content, and you can't afford to desensitize people or have them brand you as re-hashers. You could use the following tips to create fresh content for your blog and social media pages.
If there is a current search or news trend sweeping the internet, you may want to write something about it from your brand's perspective. Your can also write with inspiration from industry news and developments. Here is how you can use news for content inspiration:
+ Relate it to your niche
When Pokemon Go peaked as a search trend, several marketers wrote about how companies could use the trend to boost their business or how the game itself stood as an excellent example of marketing.
Notice that the top searches are all posts published between July and September 2016, when the game was at its highest search volume.
Optimize your content marketing plan for search
Avoid newsjacking. Only use the trend if you can provide real value with it
This is a great way of making what is old new again. Adam Connell repurposed an expert roundup that was popular on his blog into an infographic for an external website (TweakYourBiz). The result was 20,000-plus website visits and over 2000 shares.
What has worked on your website audience is likely to work well on an external audience in the same target group. Here is how you can repurpose content to aid content marketing generate more traffic:
Repurpose posts that have worked on your blog and have them published on an external blog with a large readership of your target audience
Convert popular blog posts into infographics and distribute them on infographic directories
Turn blog posts into Slideshares, podcasts or webinars and distribute them on communities where they belong
You don't have to create all the content you share, you can curate content for your social media pages, email newsletters and blog. Ultimately, you audience cares about value and you can provide it by being a good content curator. The practise can also help you sound less promotional and build important relationships on social networks.
Here's how to curate content for marketing:
Create a roundup post/guide with links, statistics or videos. It will not only save you time, but help you get more shares
Brian Dean's link building guide is a great example. Each chapter is a collection of concepts from different sources that gives his audience exactly what they need.
Curate content like important news, industry insights and guides on your social media pages, with the right hashtags and @mentions/tags for visibility
Curate top industry posts for your newsletters (this could be a regular practise - weekly/monthly)
People value other people who can cut the noise and serve up the best content for them to stay updated. This is partly why people follow industry influencers.
Facebook was built on conversations, friends and family. LinkedIn took off because it offered people a unique networking opportunity. Twitter allowed people to follow and connect with their favorite celebrities. Every social network grew on the promise of providing people the platform to connect with each other.
Most marketing strategies lack the connection that people seek on social media platforms. Plus, personal interactions have SEO benefits on social. For instance, Facebook boosts your posts on the feeds of people you have personally interacted with. Twitter displays your post on the feeds on people you have @mentioned.
People are also generally more receptive to your content if you have personally conversed with them, and that can in turn boost your social media engagement and SEO.
Here are a few interesting ways in which you can interact with people on social networks:
Ask influencers questions about their niche
Sam answered that question and wrote about the company on one of his awesome posts.
Ask fans an easy ice-breaker question
Like, comment and share other people's content when it aligns with your brand's social media outlook
Ask for introductions to specific people on social networks
Your content marketing efforts on social media needn't be limited to your official brand pages. You could have members of the marketing or sales team take part using their official social media accounts.
LinkedIn lets users ask for and give introductions, and this tactic can be super useful for your marketing and sales strategies.
Ask for introductions to industry experts or influencers whom you can work with for content, or ask for referrals with a specific person in mind. More often than not, people are likely to give referrals when you give them a name, because it spares them the need to think of someone.
People are key to content marketing success - it is them that you have to influence, move or work with. Including them in your mechanism speeds up your process. Bear this in mind, and won't have any trouble driving the results you desire.
Disha Dinesh is a content specialist at Godot Media, a leading content agency. Her interests include social media and content marketing. When she's not writing, she's on the hunt for content marketing and social media trends and inspiration.