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Content creation and content marketing are popular phrases in digital marketing circles, but can be daunting for the small business owner who struggles to find time for any kind of marketing, let alone something that requires focus and writing! In this blog, we will break down the various components of content marketing, take away the mystique, and give you some specific tools to work with. Start simple, you don’t have to do everything immediately, or ever!
Social media used to be the simplest way to reach customers, with short posts and images on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and multiple other platforms. However, as the use of social media matures and targeting audiences for digital marketing activities becomes increasingly sophisticated and competitive, social media marketing on its own is not enough. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a very important component in the digital marketing mix, but for successful digital marketing, we need to look beyond short information posts and towards more feature writing, knowledge sharing, and sharing informative manuscripts such as white papers.
Content Marketing has strong ties to social media, but performs a wider function within digital marketing than just providing content for regular social media posts. Written and used effectively, content marketing contributes to SEO rankings, supports the building of mailing lists by encouraging readers to sign up when they like what they read, and develops social media followers when snippets of your content are shared along with links to your website.
Content Marketing takes planning and effort to achieve the desired results, but there are some simple steps to ensure that it is worth the time spent.
Define your audience
Before undertaking any digital marketing activities, you need to know who you are talking to. The best way to ensure you are using the right tone, language and approach for your target audience is identify your audience, and to develop a few different ‘online personas’. These are composite profiles of your typical customer, and we will discuss how to create these in next week’s blog post.
Your content should be tailored to your audience; there is no purpose in writing about the life cycle of a bumble bee, even if it is of interest to you, if your target audience consists of accountants and purchasing managers and your website is financial or technical! The topics chosen should be relevant to your business and industry, and be useful to your specific audience.
Content should not always ‘sell’. Keep in mind that the main objective of content marketing is to engage your client base, develop mailing lists and social media followers, and to boost your search engine optimisation through the use of specific key words and phrases.
Types of Content
A blog is usually written in an informal, conversational style loosely styled around your business model, but should not take on the role of a sales promotion missive. The subject of your blog should be quite narrow, with one focus and a clear message. It needs to be long enough to attract the attention of the search engine bots (around 650 words) but not too long to bore people. It should be posted on your website on a regular basis, and snippets used on your social media platforms, together with a link to the original post to drive traffic back to your website. Blogs can be written internally, or by guest writers to vary the style and approach. The key is consistency of posting.
We all love an Infographic! If you have someone on your team to create colourful, informative infographics on various aspects of your business, these are attractive eye-catching ways of drawing attention to your website and social media platforms as well as a visual way of sharing what can be boring content.
You may have access to interesting research from your industry which your target audience will also find interesting. Summarise it, present it in your own words (be sure to attribute the source, however), present it as a blog or an infographic – everyone loves a bit of research!
A White Paper is a formal document addressing the complexities of specific issues or topics. Your target audience may not have access to such documents, but may find the contents of interest. Be sure that you are permitted to share this information or link, and always attribute it to the author / platform. A simple link on your website, with a summary posted in a blog post or on your social media platform with a link back to your website is a great way to encourage people to visit your website – and to keep coming back as you develop a reputation as an information resource.
Your foray into content marketing need not include all the tools listed above. Pick whichever you are comfortable with, and focus on doing that to the best of your ability, and consistently – whether that is weekly, monthly or even quarterly. Don’t be afraid to play around with different ideas and formats until you find the one that works best for you. Digital marketing is not an exact science, and what works for one may not work for another.