One of the great panels at Demand Success 2014 featured a robust discussion on the state of content marketing. Tenacity5 Media’s Geoff Livingston moderated a panel consisting of Nichole Kelly from Social Media Explorer, Christopher Penn from Shift Communications, Job Webster from SmartBrief and Richard Binhammer from Binhammer Social Business & Communication Consulting.
The group shared some great information, and below is a brief rundown of some of the key takeaways. You can apply their expertise to strategies for marketing your business.
Is content shock real?
Livingston started by asking whether content shock was real. Kelly was quick to argue that the problem is low quality, not a high volume.
“I think the real shock is how much bad content is out there. Seriously, we should think more before publishing,” Kelly said. “When we first started blogging, you could get away with a little bit of crap.”
Indeed, the industry as a whole is moving away from content for the sake of content and focusing on good, engaging elements. More and more, search engines are finding ways to give credit for thoughtful pieces instead of poorly written blogs that are stuffed with keywords.
Webster noted that the bad content could actually be beneficial for business that do well. If there’s low-quality stuff on various websites, good content will actually look even better by comparison. As a result, people will be more likely to go back to that source.
If your business can regularly produce great content, it’ll truly stand out. Consumers will keep coming back to you for information because they know you’re trustworthy. Additionally, Google and other search engines will reward you with higher rankings in results pages.
Fans or audiences: who’s the target?
Penn started to talk about who content is created for. Marketers and businesses, he noted, think in terms of audiences. However, this could be somewhat problematic. Penn believes that companies would be better served by curating content for fans who are passionate about a brand.
The strategy is that if you create blog posts, videos and infographics for your fans, you’ll create a community. Customers will keep coming back to your website because you understand their passion and giving them actionable materials.
“It’s not content, it’s something that could be of use to you,” Penn said.
Binhammer used his own experiences as an example to further Penn’s thought. Binhammer began researching Adobe Creative Cloud and looked at various landing pages. He said that once he subscribed, Adobe provided a vast array of content to enhance his user experience.
“Why don’t we look at content as a value added service?” Binhammer asked.
As an additional service, content can work wonders. Customers will love elements like how-to guides for your products and helpful videos for navigating your website. When you capitalize on content in this fashion, you’re supporting buyers and fostering strong relationships with them.
Why are visuals so popular?
Livingston wondered why visual content was booming. In response, Penn pulled out his phone and said, “Because we all have one of these.” While he conceded that you can’t produce the best videos or pictures from smartphones, you can do it.
This is a big change from only a few years ago when your business needed tons of equipment to begin filming a short video. These days you can get started with something that you probably have in your pocket.
Kelly’s theory is that people just want to take the easy road.
“Also, think about the user,” Kelly said. “We want to be able to consume quickly and visual content is easy to consume.”
She emphasized her point by asking the audience if anyone reads every word of a blog post. She received almost no response. Kelly said that’s understandable because a lot of written content can’t be scanned easily.
There are many ways to overcome this obstacle. First, you can incorporate visuals, both videos and photos, into your blog posts so they aren’t just walls of text. Second, you can break up the content so it’s more digestible by:
- Adding subheads
- Including bulleted lists
- Writing shorter pieces
- Adding pull quotes
Consumers will appreciate this because they can find information that’s relevant to their needs. If your post is really well done, people will seek out that data and then get hooked, reading the entire post, which would enhance your reputation as a thought leader and boost brand recognition.
The panel then went into how content is laid out and the impact that has on consumption. Penn explained that elements like symmetry and color can affect how customers analyze and think about your content.
Wearable could change the game
Wearable technology was a hot topic and is poised to mold content marketing as a whole. Devices like smartwatches and Google Glass have given consumers a new medium for accessing information. However, Webster doesn’t think we’re in a place to capitalize on it.
“I don’t think the messaging that’ll be effective in wearable even exists yet,” Webster said.
This makes sense given how new wearable technology is. These devices are still niche and only interest select groups of consumers, so businesses and marketers haven’t had time to tailor their content for them. Binhammer pointed out that something we already use could become all the more powerful.
“Visuals can become a language,” Binhammer said.
It’s certainly interesting to think about how much more important pictures and videos will become thanks to gadgets like Google Glass. Businesses can get a head start on others by focusing on visuals for today’s wearable technology.
What makes good content?
Penn laid out the criteria for what makes good content. It needs to be something that you:
- Laugh at
- Learn from
These are what you should think about every time you publish something on your website. To the first point, your blog posts don’t need to be humorous, but they should be engaging. Next, there needs to be new information for consumers to learn. This is the only way that you’ll become a thought leader and a reliable resource for data. Finally, if you don’t love the content, the public won’t either. Tailor your approach to what your fans wants and readership and engagement will trend upward.