Is there anything worse than investing significant time and money into (what you think) is an amazing piece of content only to have it flop? We’ve all had this happen to us before. Your team works hard to create more fan-favorite content you share it with your social audience or through an email, and then?
It all but dies on the vine. No comments. Limited visibility. A variable content black hole. Sound familiar?
It’s expected that not every piece of content is going to generate droves of engagement. But, if you are regularly seeing zero-comment posts on your social media channels, it’s time for action. Let’s discuss some ways your brand can ensure you put out more more content hits than flops so your social audience can’t wait to consume your articles, images, and videos.
The #1 Mistake Brands Make When Creating Content
Creating content is expensive! A recent study by Forrester said that CMOs are expected to spend nearly $119 billion on content marketing by 2021. With so much money invested, you would think that companies have figured out the formula for consistently creating great content.
But the reality is, they haven’t. Post after post, brands of all sizes are consistently making critical content mistakes. So – what is going wrong?
Brands are creating the content they think their audience wants, instead of creating content that they know their audience needs. This results in brands investing in content pieces that meet their internal needs (SEO, making stakeholders happy, etc), but fall short of the needs of their audience. And since the content being created doesn’t meet the needs of the intended audience, the audience doesn’t engage with the content.
Create Content That You Know Your Audience Wants
But…”How?” Start by listening to what they say, then pay attention to what they do.
Ask Your Audience
Sounds obvious right? But you’d be surprised how often this step gets overlooked when new content is being developed.
There are tons of tools brands can use to solicit their fans for content advice. They can create Facebook polls, send surveys through emails, use Instagram commenting, and everything in between to get feedback from their audience about what they need and are looking for from your brand.
Pro Tip: If you’re a SocialToaster customer, you can use our built-in survey and quiz functionality to easily solicit your top fans and advocates. Ask your audience what content they want to have created, then create that content for them. Your Superfans are more engaged with your brand than the average network fan, so don’t take their advice lightly. We like to think of them as your own personal focus group.
Use these and any other tools at your disposal to ask your audience about the type of content they want to receive from you to make sure you’re answering the needs of your digital engagers.
Investigate Their History
On top of asking your audience directly about what new content they want to see from you, take a look at their engagement activity. What previous content pieces have your audience responded to?
Conduct an audit of your past content to determine which garnered the most engagement. As part of your audit take note of these key pieces of information:
- The general content type (more on this below)
- The specific topics
- The media format
You can use the results of this audit as a forecasting tool when determining whether or not future content will be well received by your audience.
Key Considerations of A High-Performing Content Marketing Strategy
Alright, you did it. You’ve got a strong idea of what content has worked in the past and what content your audience wants moving forward. Now deliver by building a content marketing strategy based on this research.
Strong marketing strategies are built on a foundation of three core considerations:
What Type of Content Should You Create?
If you want to ensure strong engagement rates over the long term, start by building a content marketing strategy that includes a strong mix of different content types.
Remember, nothing will bore your audience more than publishing the same type of content over and over again.
There are a variety of different content types, but in general, most brands utilize a mix of the below types of content when crafting their content strategy:
- Entertaining content
- Inspirational content
- Conversational content
- Educational content
Key Insight: If all of your blog posts are educational posts about your product or service, you’re going to eventually turn your off of new content. Mix up your content types to keep your audience engaged over time.
What Topics Should You Build Your Content Around?
This is where the results of those surveys and polls come into play. Comb through your responses to identify common themes and topic requests from your consumers and audience. Then use those insights to articulate your general content topics.
Think of these topics as “buckets” of content. The subject/direction of the individual content pieces that you create should align with at least one of these content topics.
Key Insight: Use your audience solicitation data to identify broad content topics. Then build individual posts around these “buckets” of content.
What Format Should Your Content Take?
With your content type and topic worked out, it’s next time to turn your attention to content format. Spoiler alert, not all content should be delivered as a blog post.
Certain content types or topics lend themselves naturally to certain content formats. For example, if you’re creating a piece of entertaining content, you may prefer a video as your format of choice. Likewise, if you’re providing some inspiration, you may want to use an image.
For non-obvious content topics, you’ll have to use your best judgment when selecting the final format. There are no shortage of content formats available, so mix it up and experiment until you find what works best.
- Blog Posts
- Long Form Posts
And the list goes on.
Selecting the proper content format is a mix of science and art. You’ll need to consider what the data tells you (historic performance) as well as what format best serves the subject of that specific content piece.
Key Insight: Mix it up! Create content in formats other than blog posts.
Six Best Practices For A High-Performing Content Marketing Strategy
1. Dive Deep with Research
The first key to creating engaging content is by doing your research. Make sure you take the time to get to know your audience and what they want to see from you, as well as what content they engage with most (e.g., blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.). This will help you tailor your content to what your audience is most interested in, which will make them more likely to engage with it.
2. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
While quantity is certainly important for some types of content, if you want your content to really stand out and be fan-favorite, focus on quality over quantity. Instead of putting out as much content as possible, take the time to focus on creating high-quality content that your audience is actually interested in. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours and hours slaving over your content; it just means being strategic and selective about what type of content you share and how often.
3. Practice Consistency
Being consistent is also key to creating engaging content, as consistency helps maintain a steady stream of engagement with your audience. If you only share your content every once in a while, or at sporadic times, it will be much harder for your audience to keep up with you and engage consistently. Instead, try setting regular posting times (e.g., once a week at the same day/time), and stick to them.
4. Humanize Your Content
To create even more engaging content, make sure you are incorporating plenty of human elements into your writing. For example, try including personal anecdotes or quotes from customers that illustrate how they have benefited from your product or service. By incorporating more “human” elements into your content, you are making it easier for your audience to relate to and connect with it.
5. Tell a Story with Your Content
Another great way to engage your audience is by using storytelling in your content. Stories provide valuable context and allow people to better understand the “why” behind what you do, attracting and keeping more attention. So try to incorporate stories into your content whenever possible to keep people engaged with what you have to say!
6. Pay Attention to Timing
Finally, pay attention to the timing of your content. This means sharing your content at times that are most likely to get the most engagement from your audience. For example, if you know that your audience is most active on social media during the week in the afternoon, try sharing your content then. Or if you notice that more people are engaging with your content on weekends versus weekdays, take this into account and adjust your posting times accordingly.
Make Content For Your Audience, Not For Your Brand
Give the people what they want! Consistently creating engagement-rich content doesn’t happen by accident. It starts by understanding who your audience is and what they expect from you in regards to content. Stop creating content for your brand, and start creating content that meets the needs and expectations of your audience.
Ready to get started? We’re here to help. Our team of expert strategists stand ready to help you create great content and ensure that content gets seen. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.