We all want to create great content to promote our business or startup. However, creating quality content is a difficult task nowadays. Digital media has grown by such vast proportions that shining above the rest has become an art and science worth studying. Gone are the days where writing good content was simply a matter of “write it and they will come” process. Today, readers are overwhelmed with the amount content produced by:
- Giant media companies
- Writing agencies
- Passionate bloggers
- Niche Influencers
- Content farms
Heck, everyone is creating content, and lots of it! Because content production has reached such astronomic levels, the benchmark for what qualifies as “Quality Content” has risen correspondingly.
Content is Easy as PIE
Having a well defined purpose is essential to creating content that meets your goals. The PIE framework is an excellent guide that describes the three reasons to write content. The acronym stands for the following:
- Persuade or encourage readers / viewers to perform an action beneficial to your brand / company.
- Inform your customers about your brand or advocacy.
- Entertain your readers / viewers so much that they come back for more.
- Share your content to the masses using all available channels.
Notice that I took some liberty and added a #4 above to the framework (besides, more pies are better than one) because that is what many bloggers completely overlook. All content on the web is meant to be shared with a target audience. By all means, write content until your fingers hurt, but don’t forget to share it. Despite the common sense logic behind PIEs, it’s difficult to get past writer’s block at times. Let’s explore some of the ways you can master content creation by staying ahead of the curve.
Pay Attention To Trends
A little over a decade ago, accessing the news and reading blog posts on mobile phones was unthinkable. Now it’s the norm and quite addictive – people read content on their smart phones.
How people access and consume your content is important because it reflects your readers’ behavior. Understanding the expectations your reader have and adapting to such trends early on will help craft a content strategy that is sustainable.
For example, mobile readers are usually on the go and are impatient compared to their desktop counterparts. More importantly, specific video and audio content is more suitable for consumption on mobile as opposed to desktop which has different specifications.
The rise in popularity of smartphones has shifted the way many of the world’s largest media publishers format their content. Some examples include:
- Facebook introduced Instant Articles with features such as enhanced text display, video autoplay, and interactive maps.
- Content loading times are a factor in search engine optimization. Google’s introduced accelerated mobile pages (AMP).
- The rise in content aggregation apps (Flipboard, Feedly, Reddit, LinkedIn Pulse, or the iPhone’s News app)
It’s clear that content optimization for mobile devices will improve the user experience and help you stand out from the crowd.
On that note, anyone else noticing that your FaceBook feeds are looking more and more like a mashup of YouTube videos and captivating imagery? Hmmm…. trends.
Create Evergreen Content
As discussed above, the Internet is filled with millions of blog posts, infographics, memes, and news articles. Users are drowning in content and there are simply way too many options vying for your readers’ attention.
Larger publications are able to publish upwards of 15 – 25 pieces a day. Many of these articles are evergreen which allow them to be reshared constantly. Our general approach when creating content is to make it timeless or don’t write it all. Of course, it goes without saying that evergreen content needs to be valuable for it to truly make a dent in the blogosphere. Though, don’t be afraid to go back to older content and add more value as you learn and develop over time.
The evergreen approach is not a new concept. The biggest influencers leverage evergreen content across their various channels constantly. Why? Because it actually works. Spending 4 hours creating a high quality piece of content that can be recycled for months or years reaps positive ROI. Evergreen content typically falls into the following categories:
- Infographics – we love visuals that explain complex data into easy to digest charts and graphs!
- Videos / Livestream Recordings – think YouTube videos and the thousand or millions of views they continue to accumulate over time)
- Audio Clips / Podcasts – I’ve had my share of binge listening to podcasts from episode 1 onwards
- Research / Whitepapers – summaries of large amounts of data or complex topics is geek
- How To Tutorials – for the do it yourself type of person
The extra time it takes to produce engaging and evergreen content cumulatively pays for itself. So don’t be sub-par and get caught with nothing to show for next year.
Promote, Promote, and Promote
Creating content is one thing, but promoting it is another altogether. Without one, the other becomes a fruitless exercise. Said differently, creating great content without promoting it is like digging a hole and burying the treasure. You created something valuable that no one will ever see. Which leads me to ask the following:
The answer to the question in my graphic above is an absolute NO! Content that isn’t promoted is dead content. It’s not just about developing high-quality content, but developing high-quality content that gets viewed everywhere, from social media platforms to mobile devices and wristwatches. You’re creating content that adds value to the market and establish your online presence within your community – push it! To stay ahead of the curve, you need to learn how and where to promote your content. <– note that Kissmetrics article is from 2014 and still valuable 🙂
Be a Master Remixer
It’s no secret that social media can become a burden especially if you’re focused on creating high quality material. That’s exactly why you should create content that can be reused in many different ways. Being a master content remixer will not only save you time to promote more, but also ensure you get the maximum ROI from each piece of content. Start hacking your amazing content into the many different pieces of shareable media. Here are some ideas:
- Check your Media Library and post all your blog images onto Pinterest or Instagram or Twitter – or all of them on different days (for example, this blog post has at least 2 shareable images for all 3 platforms 🙂
- Take a video clip (short or long) and post it to Instagram, YouTube, and your Facebook page
- Embed the same video content into a blog post
- Turn each tip in this post into a short shareable video clip
- Broadcast on Periscope for 20 minutes a day
- Go on Snapchat and direct users to your content
- Quote me on Twitter and LinkedIn 🙂
Remix that song! Don’t just dump your content all over the place. Repurposing does require tact and relevant context, though coupled with a solid social media strategy and engagement, it’s powerful.
Follow Your Competition, and Then Beat Them
Good artists copy, great artists steal. – Pablo Picasso
Don’t go plagiarizing! However, there’s nothing wrong with paying attention to your competition and learning from their best practices. After all, there’s tons of data readily available to help fill the gaps in your content strategy. For example, you can use the following tactics:
- Use tools such as Google Trends and BuzzSumo to identify what’s hot for specific keywords.
- Most sites have a Popular Posts widget in their sidebar = instant data on what’s working for them. Pay attention to whether the popularity is based on views, comments, or shares.
- Monitor your competitors’ brand names using services such as Google Alerts or Mention so you can keep track of relevant buzz.
These are just a few ways to use existing information as a guideline for determining what appeals to your target audience. However, it’s what you do with this information that matters. Create better content, give away more value, and promote harder. I know several bloggers that used this strategy alone to identify topics for their first 100 posts, and those pieces are still their most popular articles to this day. In fact, they rank higher than their competitors because of the follow-up value added to each article over time.
It takes a great deal of humility to admit that your competitors are worth watching. Though, just remember that they’re likely doing the same for whomever they consider to be competitors. In addition, you’ll not only learn about what makes your competition worthy, but also what mistakes to avoid. Learn from others!
The timeliness of your content should also be taken into consideration. Let me give you two examples, one good, and one #fail:
Example #1 – I’ve been anxiously waiting to buy a new Macbook, but like all techies, I want the latest and greatest. Last month, Cult of Mac revealed some spy photos of the upcoming Macbook with OLED touchpad which is to debut in Q3 of 2016. For me – their target audience – that’s timely and highly relevant!
Example #2 – Back in November, I wrote an almost finished, 2000+ word blog post about Google making the the full version of their Search Quality Rating Guidelines publicly available. Unfortunately, I lost track of time, never published, and it became old news real within a few weeks. That’s several hours I won’t get back which translates to #FAIL – or maybe I’ll repurpose it 🙂 #WIN
In short, while evergreen content lives longer, sometimes the timely updates still command attention depending on your target audience. So don’t be afraid to sprinkle some of those timely words of wisdom on your blog. Though, it’s also important to be aware of how long content or news trends in your niche or industry. Content that might be trending for 7 days might be less timely to write about than content that has been trending for 18 hours.
A few simple ways to stay timely are as follows:
- Set up a Feedly account. Feedly is an RSS aggregator that funnels all the content published by the people you follow into one simple and clean feed.
- Browse Reddit, which promote quality, user-generated content to the top of its feed. If you are not familiar with Reddit, don’t worry, it is a very simple website to use. What you need to understand about Reddit is that there is an enormous amount of sub-sections or “subreddits” that are associated to very specific topics.
- Use BuzzSumo for content discovery and industry monitoring.
- Participate on #Slack groups that are active – it’s become my new source for content curation.
- Listen to quality podcasts / broadcasts / daily shows to keep you informed.
- Join a high quality private newsletter.
Overall, staying ahead of the content creation curve is not simple, but it’s definitely manageable and well worth the time.