Content marketing – how to survive in a world of free, unbranded content
It is altogether too easy for content to drown in a sea of other offerings, and with individuals online creating more and more free content in seemingly every niche, it can be hard for a campaign to gain traction
The success of a piece of content can often seem difficult to predict. While there are pieces which appear to achieve viral success for no easily apparent reason, there are others – despite the care and attention given to their creation – that never seem to earn the attention you felt they would, or would deserve.
A lot of the disappointment that can come from such a result originates from the idea that you can apply the “effort = success” paradigm to content marketing. Though many marketing activities, especially those in search marketing, can have their outcome determined as directly correlative with the effort put in to the execution, this is not quite true in the practice of content marketing.
Or at least, the effort that generates success is not the effort you would ordinarily expect. Instead, though having an excellent end-product or asset is undoubtedly a benefit (at Click we believe that excellence should be the lowest bar), the best way to ensure the success of a campaign comes long before the content is begun, let alone finished.
- Define ‘success’: – Clearly, when we create content we imagine international exposure, spin off television shows, or increases in exposure leading to multi-billion pound take-overs. However, success must be defined for your business in a realistic manner – if your Twitter followers were to ‘retweet’ your post once, what would be the resultant visibility of the tweet, if it were then shared by one of their followers each? Set realistic targets as to what constitutes success for you – remember that part of a content marketing strategy’s aim is building an audience, that audience will not all come at once (except incredibly rarely).
- Know your audience: – This is not as simple as it appears at face value – though your audience is, at least hopefully, interested in the product or service you provide, the best content marketing campaigns combine interests and seek to capitalise on secondary and tertiary interests in order to aid shareability of an asset. If you can cater to a secondary interest your audience shares, this may overlap with interests of their audience, and beyond.
- Match content to medium: – Though there are varieties of content which can be adapted to various mediums to communicate information to different sections of an audience, it is important that you should define your terms – what information you are looking to convey and to whom and in what tone, and to allow these to determine the best medium of presentation (even if sometimes this can include multiple varieties, it is nevertheless important to delineate them and weigh up the pros and cons of each).
- Use the right amplification channels: – As with information, different styles of content are better suited to different types of platform. Though video is best hosted on platforms such as YouTube, it can be difficult to determine the best platform for other types of media (for further information see our ‘Pros and Cons of Social Media’ infographic). Facebook, for example, is far more amenable for less formal, more social posts, while LinkedIn can be a good home for longer form written information and Twitter ideal for memes and short video/animation. Carefully consider the benefits of creating specific types of content, and measure it against your audience on these platforms.
- Monitor and review performance: – Creativity is just one of content marketing, and it is often forgotten that it is a process and not simply an activity. Though, as your experience grows, you may develop a sixth sense as to what will succeed and where, it is important never to simply assume success. At the end of every cycle of content marketing, review the performance of an asset against others you have promoted – incorporate analysis into your process and allow this to dictate, at least in part, your future ideation. Though there is, of course, room for a spark of creativity at any time, a strategy which neglects analysis is condemned to be more hit and miss than is necessary.
There are, of course, no guarantees with content marketing – just as with any area of marketing – and sometimes luck will be a determining factor, but with these five tips in mind, you can build a content marketing strategy that cuts out some of the need for luck, one which will continue to grow your audience above and beyond the occasional one-off success.