If you don’t have a content strategy and are creating content randomly without a concrete plan, then you are missing out on several opportunities that can lead to higher SEO rankings and organic traffic, social conversion, and higher lead generation though the sales funnel. Create a successful content strategy by defining your goals, building your plan, and looking for outside opportunities to get more exposure.
Speaking of getting more exposure, this blog post is a living example of syndicating and sharing content in different mediums as this is an adaptation of an incredible presentation I gave at Pubcon!
Define Your Goals
Content strategy is successful only when it takes a well-thought out, multi-faceted approach. When it comes to getting online exposure, it’s important to remember to “never serve one master.” This means that all stakeholders must be at the table in order for the content strategy to be a true success. Don’t focus on just content for SEO or from a PR standpoint.
By casting your net to capturing the largest amount of interest from the greatest number of target users, your SEO and PR campaigns won’t be the only areas to benefit. You will also find that your branding, paid media (amplification & retargeting), communications, and HR will also benefit, especially if you take key traits from each one and roll it into your content strategy.
When you cast a wider net, you will never run out of content ideas or goals. For example, if your company has hired new employees recently, interview them as a way to introduce them to customers, but to also give readers a chance to see what people on your team do on a daily basis. Humanizing your brand not only creates a connection with customers, but also makes potential job candidates want to work there too.
Build Your Content Nucleus
It is important to look at the big picture when it comes to crafting content that is representing your brand as a whole online. By regularly representing different parts of your company and its products and services through content, you are giving readers a variety of content that will keep their interest. Build on different types of content as initiatives, not pieces.
For instance, if you are looking to promote a new product, write a blog post about it, but also produce a YouTube video of your employees using the product and explaining how it will help the user.
You can also create communities around your products to keep customer loyalty. NutriBullet, a high-powered single serve blender, does a good job of this. They have a blog that showcases success stories by real customers, as well as customer recipes that are submitted as part of their Nutriliving community, which turns Nutribullet ownership as part of a lifestyle. Their positive attitude and willingness to position the customer as an expert only increases loyalty and branding.
When you are passionate about your content, others will be too. Build a network of trusted publishers and colleagues that are champions of your content. You can also turn loyal audiences into your own brand evangelists through blogger outreach by offering them the first look at new products and services.
Besides looking for ways to leverage your audience, one of your goals should always be to focus on what works versus what doesn’t. One company may find extreme success through podcasts, while another could generate thousands of free ebook downloads.
To figure out what content works in your industry, identify the following:
- SEO Targets: Which of your target keywords drive the most context and emotion for your key market?
- Outreach Targets: What resonates with publishers in the your target verticals?
- Social Sharing: What kinds of content or topics get the most interaction?
- Social Influencers: Who is sharing what kind of content in this vertical? Can you mobilize your audience by giving them the means to become your brand advocates and spread your message to their connections?
- Ad Enhancement: Is there opportunities to grow existing and new content amplification in paid channels?
- Content Lifespan: Can this content live and breathe on its own?
After identifying your key goals and which areas to focus on, it’s important to build upon your foundation. Look at what content already exists on your website and across your other platforms, like social media, and examine them with a critical eye. For content on your website, focus on less pages and more rich content. Develop pages that have the best, most relevant content in your vertical.
After optimizing your existing pages, figure out what you can add to make your website more of an online resource for your industry. Build a resource page that includes all content you create, including presentations (which can be uploaded to SlideShare), ebooks, infographics, video, interviews and press from other sources, including important or useful social media shout outs (which can be embedded directly onto a page when posting from Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook).
Continuously add to your resource section by producing more of the above, as well as articles answering common questions or addressing new changes in your industry. Make your resource section have the best user experience possible and your users will continue to use it.
Additionally, create your content editorial calendar that regularly adds content to the following areas:
- Your interior pages: This includes the resource pages and articles, as well as ebooks, infographics, and new FAQ answers. Once a month at minimum is a good place to start.
- Interior blog posts. Post topics should be planned in advance so they can tie in new products, current events, or multi-post themes. The ideal number of blog posts per month varies depending on the industry and company resources, but 1-3 times per week is a good place to start.
- Exterior press: Be constantly on the look-out for high-quality guest blogging opportunities, interview subjects, press outlet coverage, and other places where you can get your content in front of more eyeballs. HARO is a great resource; so it simply asking colleagues in your industry if you can write a guest blog for them or interview them for a post on your own blog.
Another front-facing method to get your content in front of more people is syndication, which means both repurposing it on other outlets, as well as making sure it is shared as much as possible. When it comes to exposure, precise targeting is more important than numbers alone.
Syndicate Your Infographics and Blog Images
SlideShare is not only great for sharing content in slideshow form, it is also the most underutilized infographic channel, especially because it has LinkedIn integration and files are easily shared and embedded by other users. You can also set up branded channels for link juice on Visual.ly, which is a database for infographics and is regularly used by bloggers for content.
Other places to share your infographics include Imgur, which is the official image sharer for Reddit, Minus, which is an up and coming visual sharing platform, and Pinterest, which is the largest visually-centered social media platform. Minus and Pinterest are also good platforms for sharing blog post featured images that have the blog post title on them, we call these Infograms.
These types of introduction images make it almost irresistible to users to share on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin, and Tumblr. In addition, if you create images with quotes from your content on them, share them via Instagram, Flickr.com, and Twitpics.
Syndicate Your Videos
As mentioned previously, video can be a great way to represent content in a different format. Everyone loves video, and it can drive signals to your site if done right: YouTube.com is the world’s 2nd largest search engine and 40% of its traffic is mobile. YouTube is also key because Google loves promoting its own videos in SERPS. Vimeo is also a popular video platform, and if you want to host video on your own site, the Yoast SEO plugin can help you rank your site-hosted video in search.
To take video social, try uploading bits of content to Vine and Instagram. MixBit, another video sharing service that allows users to easily edit and share videos, was launched by YouTube’s founders and is also continuing to grow.
Syndicate Your Content
You can also get your existing content syndicated on other platforms, which can help it get more exposure to people who matter to you and your goals. Sites like Repost.us or Outbrain can make it easy to get more exposure and links to content through paid marketing campaigns. I’m also a big fan of StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery, as it’s essentially a hybrid of paid & organic marketing (especially if you have SU influencers sharing your work).
Conversely, sites like Business2Community and Social Media Today run almost entirely on syndicated content and have a large following. Look for similar sites in your industry or connect with well-known bloggers who could repost your content with a link back to the original post (be sure to have canonical URLs in place to prevent duplicate content issues from the search engines.
Never Stop Innovating
Content is a living process: don’t let the lights dim on great new ideas while also recognizing when evergreen content needs an update, especially because HTML content is easily changed. Here’s other ways you can keep your content fresh and innovative:
- When changes happen in your industry, look to where you can issue new updated collateral to publishers who featured you before.
- If a new channel appears or becomes popular, create content for it.
Keep in mind that seasonal & event content can peak year after year after year- be sure to capitalize on it by looking at past trends in your analytics data.
Perhaps what is most important to remember about a long term content strategy is that innovation doesn’t mean brashness. Impatience in marketing is what fuels bad decisions. Don’t get caught up in the hype of trying to stay on top of current trends and topics without planning it out first. Sending out inadequate content too early will create a negative impact instead of the positive one you are looking for.