New Year Old You: Don’t Be Afraid of Content Marketing Basics
Somewhere in between Halloween candy sugar comas, turkey, and extra cups of eggnog, content can start to get a little stale. And with the New Year here, there will be lots of tips about cool and innovative things to do in 2013.
And while change is good (especially in the digital word) here is a different kind of resolution: be the best you can at the basics. If at some point in the last year your content has gotten a little weak, fix it up before you take on a ton of new things. Here are my New Year’s back-to-the-basics for marketers, clients, or anyone just trying to do cool things with content!
Make great images happen every day. 2012 sure seemed like the year of the photo. Pinterest exploded, Instagram alerted you every time your friends ate a cupcake, and Facebook switched users and businesses to a format that focused on the visual. When you started working with a marketing agency you might have gotten a new website with some great images, but now what? Assuming it isn’t in your budget to have a professional photographer around 24/7, here is another option: find someone in your office who likes to take pictures. You might find some serious hidden talent, but even if you don’t, I’m willing to bet there is someone who knows their way around Instagram and a decent photo. That person makes a great liaison from your business to a marketing team, and can pass on “behind the scenes” images that make great social content. Marketers will probably tell you that while this works for some things, “non-professional” photography can’t always be the answer. In these cases there are always stock photos, but don’t just find something bland and generic and call it good. Work with your marketing agency to make a little Photoshop go a long way. Figure out how to brand stock photos so it’s clear they come from a specific business (you!). Work the colors so they are relatively uniform throughout images. Add text in your brand’s signature font, and incorporate a logo or shape in each that plays off of your business’ logo. These uniform elements can make all the difference between really boring and actually sharable. And remember, if it’s a big project (web redesign, print ads, branded magazine) it’s sometimes best to hand images over to a professional photographer, and see how you can continue to use the photos after!
Create blog titles that demand to be clicked on. Creating content on a consistent basis? Not always easy. Creating engaging, fun, unique content that people want to share consistently? Definitely not east. Creating a headline that is short, to the point, and yet captures the imaginations and attention spans of reader after reader? No one ever said this writing thing would be a cakewalk. I struggle with this frequently: a blog just needs to be published or a tweet sent out, and there is no time to figure out a great headline, so something generic gets put in its place. If you have good content going on, that’s doing yourself a disservice. There is a lot of stuff online, and for your stuff to stand out, your headline is going to need to too. Granted, we aren’t all writing about headless bodies in topless bars (thankfully), but work with what you’ve got. Try this: are you writing about something that has been a popular topic in your industry? Check out other headlines, and then go in a different direction; you’ll have a much better shot at standing out. Tweeting some curated content? Look for a quote in the article that really stands out, and use that. When all else fails, use something that has rock hard SEO quality, and is likely to get clicked on because it is clearly a relevant result for searchers. And always give yourself enough time to actually think something up, rather than slap something on.
Engage, engage, engage. So you respond back to commenters on your blog, and you handle complaints and questions that come in on social networks? That’s great! It’s also not quite enough. A good online presence is a balance of give and take, so be sure you are doing enough giving. By that I mean join in on lively discussions on blogs, take part in Twitter chats, share the good things you hear about partners in your industry, always be open to what others are saying, and be willing to join in the conversation. Living on a content island will not be enough to make you a real thought leader, or make your company come to mind when someone you’ve made a relationship with hears “Do you know a great business for…” I recently read that there is no B2B or B2C, only B2P, business to people. People want to buy from happy, engaged, smart companies. It takes talking to others to prove that you are all of those things.
So there you have it. Some back-to-basics content resolutions for the New Year. Master these, and you have a great base to build an amazing online presence on, year after year.