Late last year, Forbes labeled 2012 as “The Year of Content” and outlined five strategic steps for social media marketing and content marketing success. With almost half the year behind us, now seemed like a good time to review their strategy.
Let’s start with a definition: what is content marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and publication of original content to generate leads, enhance a brand’s visibility, and put the company’s subject matter expertise on display.
1. Begin with Branding
What’s your brand? How do you want to be known? Determine your niche and focus on it as your primary brand message. In today’s information-rich media environment, niche brands win. Your audience needs to develop expectations for your brand to develop confidence in and loyalty to it. It’s critical to meet your audience’s expectations in every interaction. Brand consistency is key.
2. Create your Branded Online Destinations
Where are you directing readers? Choose one branded online destination to be your core destination. Fragmenting content and conversation across multiple destinations is risky and can confuse readers. Your branded online destination will be the central hub of your online presence and will become the go-to place for people to learn everything about your brand. It’s important that you keep your branded online destination fresh with new content that effectively represents your brand promise and invites interaction and sharing.
3. Find Your Best Audience
Who is your target market and what are your users’ goals? Who do you want to connect with online? Use Google to search keywords your audience is likely to use to find brands, businesses, content and conversations like yours. Once you find your audience, observe and listen. What topics are important to them? What gets them excited? As you develop your branded online destination, pay attention to the content that resonates with your readers. Understanding what your audience wants and needs is a necessary step in developing a content strategy.
4. Join the Conversation
Interact with your audience. Avoid self-promotion. Apply the 80-20 rule, and make sure 80% of the time you are creating value to your audience. Provide a resource for readers first, then worry about enticing potential clients.
5. Publish Shareworthy Content
By creating content that is valuable to your audience, you create something that readers want to share with their friends, colleagues, and connections. Additionally, the Google search algorithm ranks websites with many incoming links (particularly from authoritative sites and especially from social media) higher than results with few incoming links.
With all of these steps, remember that content quality trumps quantity. Organic growth of readers truly interested in your brand will deliver the best long-term growth results.
How does your content marketing strategy measure up?
Walter Jessen is a digital strategist, writer, web developer and data scientist. You can typically find him behind the screen something with an internet connection.