Web content is the most common form of content marketing online. It consists of text, images, videos, audio and infographics that people view on a daily basis and interact with.
I believe content marketing is the oldest form of advertising on the web. It’s only a few short years since websites and blogs (the first one came along in the early ’90s), but content marketing is already more pervasive than many of us realize.
Just think of your Facebook, Instagram and other social media feeds. In May 2018, the social media-tracking company Pew Research Center announced that content marketing was not only expanding online, but also influencing people’s purchasing decisions. According to Pew, 90 percent of people use Facebook daily, and 64 percent of them have said that seeing posts from friends and family influences their purchasing decisions. Even more interesting, 41 percent of people said the information they’ve found on Facebook was the deciding factor for purchasing a product they liked, according to Pew.
Of course, this all stems from marketers believing that content marketing is better than traditional advertising (even while I do believe there is an actual difference between the two).
Here are the key rules of content marketing:
Start early. It’s simple: Originality is best, but that doesn’t always mean spending a fortune and learning to speak one of the 130 different languages that are projected to exist in 10 years. Don’t make people wait for that information. The goal of content marketing is to bring people content they find valuable, not content that gets lost in the noise.
Choose your targets carefully. If you’re pushing puppies (or posters of cats) on your friends’ homes, the chances that they will actually engage with it are pretty slim. A single paragraph’s worth of information is just as impactful as a section on Facebook in an afternoon news feed. For a more traditional approach, consider topics that people generally want to know more about.
Have the patience. Shifting gears to competitive marketing isn’t always a walk in the park, especially if your desired outcome is to attract prospects and convert them into sales. Content marketing, however, is something that can be figured out and created with minimal training. Creating content on a high-pressure business model can be difficult, so make sure your content writing and branding skills are polished so you’re creating it for real.
Be sure to test and retest your content. Your first post should either be content that everyone agrees you should publish in a given state of content marketing (sales, social media, content marketing page growth and so on), or content that will gain a certain amount of traction in your target market. Then see what works and what doesn’t, so you can get consistent results.
Don’t invest too much. The first step is to choose a target market, but you’ll want to make sure you get your content out there in the first place. Focus on the value and impact of your content. If you make it seem too expensive or you expect results too soon, potential customers may shrug you off or simply ignore you.
Do everything in your power to communicate value and excitement. Create value—positively and in a way that might take even the most stubborn customers by surprise. Share it with your team and your clients. Create content that people want to consume because you’ve made it a priority, not just a one-time endeavor.
Are you content marketing? Are you going to continue that direction and scale up to a job you believe is truly important? I challenge you to answer these questions and more in the second installment of “Teaching Yourself Content Marketing” where we go deeper into how to make content you want to share.