Content marketing is one of the hottest trends in the marketing world. As banner ads and many other forms of marketing online start to disappear, content is showing why it’s truly king. Although it’s been around for decades in one form or another, the importance of content marketing has never been more significant and this practice is still evolving.
Online firm KAYAK recently published an infographic on the 21 New Rules of Content Marketing. Although I don’t agree with all of them as you’ll read below, there’s value in refreshing yourself on acceptable practices and discovering new ways to use the information you produce to capture a large and engaged audience.
1. Treat Keywords Like Hot Sauce
Can you taste the Tabasco?
This opening rule hooked me enough to continue reading through the additional points in the infographic. Anyone with experience in this field has seen content with an over-abundance of unnecessary keywords. As a writer, I’ve refused work that comes with a requirement of using a long list of words just to use them. Content is about providing value. If your only goal with content is to rise in organic searches, you’ll lose out on potential customers and any benefits from your SEO efforts due to empty content. Use keywords carefully; making sure your readers and fans don’t have to choke down what you’re providing them with.
2. Have a Voice (or Brand) Customers Can Identify With
Customers want to relate with you! Give them a voice they can identify with by providing transparent and behind the scenes information and opinions.
3. Build Trust With Transparency
Ties in with #2, but transparency is a rule worth repeating. Companies that only talk about being the best and act like they don’t have any competitors or problems aren’t easy to like. I admire companies that can admit their mistakes and let you know that real people are working at that company.
Example: We F*cked Up, by Ryan Hoover on Medium
4. Make the Most of a Great Idea with Multiple Formats
There are a lot of ways to share information, but to keep your message powerful, choose what you share over multiple formats carefully. You don’t need to share every article or video on all of your social media accounts. Don’t waste your time repurposing every article you write, instead, focus on producing the most valuable information to your target market and they will show you when something is worth sharing on additional channels.
5. Headlines Are Everything
Can I agree and disagree at the same time? If headlines were everything, there would be no reason to click on them, and we would all only use Twitter and nothing else. The information people are clicking to read/listen/watch matters more than the headlines, but you have to carefully entice readers while being 100% honest about what you’re providing. Having an incredible headline can work against you if the rest of the content doesn’t live up to the hype.
6. Use the News
It’s hard for me to argue with this because I’m providing my thoughts on a recently published story/infographic in this post. Curating content and tying in a story with the news is a strong way to get attention right from the start, but depending on the news you are using, the information or insight you provide may be obsolete in a matter of hours.
I thought my Deflategate related article on The Dangerously Competitive Workplacewas going to go viral. Over a month later, it has 70 views and little hope of ever catching on.
7. You Can’t Stock the Cupboards Until You Take Out the Trash
They tried a little bit too hard to be cute and clever with this one. I take this to mean you need to optimize your online presence and brand before trying to throw a ton of content out there. I’m currently experiencing this, as I’m publishing every day, which leaves a very small amount of time to do the work behind the scenes that is needed to increase engagement and improve the chances readers who find value in my articles can find them.
8. Don’t Just Post…Engage
Think about your personal network or a Twitter profile. You can know 5,000 people and have a large following on Twitter, but if they aren’t engaged and sharing what you’re providing, what value are your posts, network, or “following?” Don’t just talk about yourself, share other things your audience may like. In nearly all of my articles, I include other resources that may be of value to my readers that I don’t have any vested interest in.
9. Invite Yourself to Someone Else’s Party Once in a While
Contribute to guest blogs, interact with others on social media, etc., just make sure you are engaging in the conversation and not trying to turn it all back on yourself. Don’t just try to use someone else’s following to your benefit without investing a little time and effort yourself.
10. Remember that Great Content Invites Links
I’m not sure how this is a rule. It feels like opening up a fortune cookie to read “you are a kind and awesome person” – it’s not really a fortune. Creating great and shareable content is important, but if you didn’t already realize that, this list may be over your head.
11. Build Your Content From an Ongoing Plan
This goes back to having a content strategy. Just winging it can work occasionally, but you need to have a focused effort to provide what your audience wants and needs. Strategy and organization will also help when coming up with topic ideas.
12. The Best Inspiration Comes from Several Different Sources
Another non-rule. I’m starting to think they just really wanted to have 21 rules. We can be inspired by anything…we get it.
13. Quality is as Important as Quantity
Quality is MORE important than quantity, and this is coming from someone who is publishing 365 days this year. One terrible piece of content will lose a portion of your audience forever.
I tend to talk a lot when I’m excited about something. The more I talk about something that my audience doesn’t think is valuable, the more annoying I am to them. Providing annoying information constantly will kill your brand. Focus on quality, not quantity.
14. Quantity Still Matters
Have you ever started a new relationship and you were hoping to get calls every couple of days, but instead you received them once a month when the other person was drunk? Being sporadic or absent for a couple of months will push your target market away. Find out how often they want to hear from you and stay consistent.
15. Take Your Time
Don’t force it, but don’t wait around for the perfect time or perfect content. Nothing is perfect, and your competition is getting better and stronger by the day. Plan, but don’t hold off your efforts just to double and triple check every aspect of your campaign.
16. Stop Buying Content from the Bargain Bin
I recently covered why entrepreneurs and businesses should be careful if choosing to hire dirt cheap writers.
It’s like eating fast food for every meal. It’s cheap and can get you by for the time being, but you know to have a healthy body, you need to eat better food. Don’t expect to vastly improve your brand by paying a few bucks for content you hope will bring in leads. The information and articles you put out into the world represent your brand. Make sure that you are proud of what you publish and have writers that genuinely care about your company and success.
17. Know Your Biggest Content Marketing Enemy
No, they aren’t referring to your actual competitors. KAYAK is referring to “being bland.” Know the personality of your business and what resonates with your target market. It’s great to use humor if it fits your brand, but if you’re a doctor running a practice, humor might not be the best idea. Make sure your content is readable and not going to put someone to sleep.
18. Use One Piece of Content to Promote Another
Promoting content in content is okay, but needs to be done carefully. As you’ll notice in this article, I’ve linked to two pieces of my own content above.
Find relevant opportunities to provide your audience with additional sources and information. When placing a link into a piece of content, ask yourself if this is going to be helpful for your reader, or if you’re just putting it in there for selfish reasons.
19. Recycle Your Greatest Hits
This is a little too similar to #4 for my liking. Re-sharing content is okay occasionally, but sharing the same piece more than five times is pushing it if you expect to build a consistent and passionate fan base.
As a consumer of content, I’m skeptical of people and brands that push the same articles or videos day after day on social media. Repurpose your content by utilizing videos, audio (podcasts), and even slides on Slideshare, but be careful of how often you’re sharing the same information again and again. Think of your content as a really good joke. You will make people laugh the first time, but if they hear it several times, it starts to get annoying.
20. Always Ask the Key Question About a Piece of Content
Is this content worth the time of the reader?
It’s a great question to ask. This will depend on your audience, as you can’t expect everyone to feel that your video or podcast episode is interesting, and you shouldn’t try to market to everyone.
21. Use Your Content to Turn Searchers, Readers & Fans, into Buyers!
We all have to sell. How is your content resulting in sales? Start by providing calls to action in your content. For a couple of examples, view this post about putting calls to action in your post footers on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading! What’s your best rule to live by for content marketing?
TrepRep turns your passion and expertise as an entrepreneur into content marketing gold. To find out more, email me at Luchies.Michael@gmail.com.
Michael Luchies is the Founder of TrepRep, Director of Content Programming forPursuit, Interview Editor for Under30CEO, Entrepreneurship Lecturer at Illinois State University, Co-Host of the Entrepreneurs on Campus Radio Show, Trepidemic Co-Host, TEW 2 contributor, and writer of all things entrepreneurship. Connect with Michael on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Michael is publishing 365 times in 2015. To find out why, read the first post of the year here!