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Communication is the key weapon in any marketer’s toolbox. Content Marketing is a trendy term now. Companies and people are using high quality content to get more traffic, and to build more leads. In order to effectively content market you need to understand the basic principles of communication that will get your content noticed.

Before you even get started in content marketing there are several things you need to have ready.

  • What do you ultimately want out of the experience?
  • What does your company stand for?
  • Where will you send people?
  • How will you spread your message?
  • What content channel is best?
  • Is your platform ready for you?
  • How will you format your posts?
  • How do you know you’re successful?

What do you ultimately want out of the experience?

Simply put, why are you doing this? Content marketing through daily or weekly posting is not a short-term prospect. It takes an effort for your content to get noticed and you will need to work on the content to make it stand out.  Expecting immediate return from frequent blog or vlog posting is unreasonable.

Are you looking for leads? Are you looking to improve your branding? Are you looking to establish authority on a subject? Each one of these may need different tactics.

If you’re looking for more leads, you might be better off creating one or two high quality downloads that you can put behind a gate and offer up in exchange for a customer’s information.

If you’re looking to build your brand, you may want to start posting more visual oriented content.

Looking to establish authority might need long form blog posting.

Establishing what you are looking to do with your content marketing project will help you to decide what is the best kind of content marketing to do.

What does your company stand for?

This is bigger than simply your “Unique Value Proposition”, this speaks to the heart of your company. What are your core values?  What is your mission statement?

For NorthIQ, or mission statement is simple.

NorthIQ finds new revenue for our clients by understanding their business and delivering solutions that rely on data and proven marketing techniques in a way that is unique and fun to work on.

The content we create needs to represent our mission statement. We need to create content which data can prove, we need to use marketing techniques that have worked for others, and what we write needs to be fun.

Where will you send people?

We’ve written about this before in our post “Digital Sharecropping is Dangerous“, we think that platforms like LinkedIN, Facebook, and Twitter are an important part of any good content marketing strategy, but they should  not be the final destination.  Our strong recommendation is for you to build on a platform that you own 100%, and which you can get your content back out of.

When you are building content, you are creating an asset for your company. This is something that you can revisit over time, and that if you want to, you can monetize as a separate product.  Companies such as Basecamp and Groove have built entire products by expanding on the content that they have created.

You will also want to build and nurture an email based mailing list, which needs a tool like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Convert Kit.

Your content, which will be also posted to your blog, will funnel into a mailing list.  You’ll use your mailing list to market more great content, and continue building your audience.

How will you spread your message?

You’ve got a core message, now how are you going to get that message out? We suggest you build an email list of people who want to know more about what you do.  That’s a great start, but you should also be getting your message out on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIN. Certain content may do better on YouTube, Instagram, Periscope, or Snap Chat.

Understanding what each one of these content channels does, is important to making sure your message gets out there.

What content channels will you use?

Twitter – Best for short, 140 character or less content. Sharing links is good, but make sure you use a link shortener like bit.ly to take get the most out of your character limit.  Structure your link title in a challenging way. “Does Your Content Strategy Take This Into Account?”  Adding a picture to your Twitter link could get you better engagement.

Facebook, LinkedIN – You can go longer here, but we recommend a short, challenging Headline, with an embedded photo that links to the content.  You can engage in an real conversation on both Facebook and LinkedIN as well.

Facebook Live – You could also tell people that you are going to go live to discuss your blog post.  We’ve experimented with that this year ourselves, and have had good luck with it so far.

Instagram – If you’re looking for a quick way of sharing a visual image, use Instagram.  There are some limitations, like the inability to link directly to what you’re talking about, but you can get some good engagement around a picture or brief (15 seconds) video.

YouTube – Long form video is great here, but remember that you could be experiencing ads from competitors on your video, and you will also need to pay attention to comments.

Periscope – Much like Facebook Live, you might choose to take to Periscope to discuss your content that you’ve just published.  Make sure you link your Periscope archive to your live content so that you can keep the story together.

Snapchat – The commercial uses of Snapchat are still kind of dubious, if you’re a brave soul who wants to try it…go for it and let us know how it goes!

Is your platform ready for you?

Is your website set up to post the kind of content that you’re going to be posting?  Do you have good Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat usernames?  Have you secured your Facebook and LinkedIN URL’s?

Do you have good, readily identifiable icons on each platform?  Have you built cover images that are relevant and compelling for each social media platform?

Does your website have an easy way for your readers to subscribe?  Is it easy for a user to share content?  When they share content, does the title, summary and photo get pre-generated for them by using Open Data cards?

How will you format your posts?

Making well formatted posts is almost as important as the posts themselves.  Pictures engage the audience and bring them into the story. We have found that posts without pictures get fewer clicks, and are shared less than posts with pictures.

Make sure your picture is relevant to the content you’re writing about, and that it is high quality.

Titles and sub-titles are important, they both break the story up visually, but also make content more searchable for search engines.

There should only ever be ONE H1 title on a page.

There should only be TWO H2 titles on a page.

You can have as many H3, H4, H5, and H6 titles as you like.

Readability matters. Don’t use big words when a small word will do. Sure, you may think you seem smarter by using huge words, but your reader has to translate that to the base meaning.

Use bullets where it makes sense. If you’re listing some thoughts, or summarizing an idea, use bullet points.

How Do You Know You’re Successful?

If you have established goals at the beginning of this process, you’ll know what your end goal is, but what about each post?  Do you have engagement metrics? Do you have a way of tracking how many people view each post?  Are you saving that information somewhere?

Content marketing isn’t a rocket ship, it’s a flywheel. It takes a while to get going, but once it does, it will benefit you immensely.

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The Takeaway:

Getting started in content marketing is not as simple as “just getting started”, you really need a strategy, you need to understand who you are marketing to, where you will be marketing to them, and what you will be marketing to them.

You need the right platforms, and you need those platforms set up properly so that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.

The good news is we can help! Reach out to me on Twitter @briangarside and I can schedule a 30 minute call where I can help you get started.

 

Brian Garside has been building websites for two decades and has worked on some of the largest websites in Canadian media. He focuses on creating good user experiences and building websites that make their owners money. Brian is certified in blogging and content marketing from Shaw Academy.