Neil Patel. Ann Handley. Joe Pulizzi. Lilach Bullock.
What do all of these people have in common? If you guessed marketing or entrepreneurial spirit, you’d be right, but that’s just the beginning of their stories. These four influential people are also four of the world’s best content creationists spanning across nearly every delivery format, including speeches, video, books, articles, and more.
They’re also all people who regularly share their expertise with other content creators, often for free. That outreach to the marketing and content creation communities makes us all better at what we do, and it’s a big part of the reason why we believe in “sharing the love,” too.
In that spirit, we put together some of our favorite content creation tips for marketing campaigns. If you find them useful, send us an email or connect with us on social media and tell us what you think. Your feedback is always appreciated.
Publish Often (And Regularly)
One of Patel’s most common suggestions is also the most simple: no matter what you’re publishing, you should be publishing often and on a regularly scheduled basis. This is true for social media platforms, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, email marketing, and just about every other form of content creation out there.
How frequently is “often?” Well, it depends on your business and the type of content you’re producing, but most sources say at least one to two times per week. Social media pages often benefit from a slightly faster publishing rate, while articles, blogs, and white papers can be stretched out a little bit further when you’re short on time.
As for what everyone else is doing, this study from 2015 highlights that nearly all content marketers now publish at least weekly, if not more often. But do keep in mind that you can potentially publish too much – multiple times a day, for example, is probably over the top.
Focus on Your Audience
“You do need to be audience-centric in your approach. You’ve got to make sure that you’re not wasting your audience’s time, and you’ve really got to respect that relationship.” This quote comes from Handley, who often advises marketers on how they can become influential writers themselves – even if they’ve never written a word. It’s sage advice that may seem too surface level at first, but in reality, touches on something marketers and writers often misconstrue: exactly what it means to be “audience-centric” in the first place.
There are two schools of thought here. The first suggests that in order to be audience centric, you need to pick a category and topic you think your audience is interested in and never stray from it. The other suggests you should loosen it up and mix up your content types and topics to keep people coming back for more.
They’re both wrong – well, not so much wrong as far too surface level to really explain what you need to be doing.
To be audience-centric isn’t as much about what you write or how you write it; instead, it’s about how much effort you put into getting to know your audience to ensure that you create content that they actually find useful. Get away from simply throwing down text or images to fill quota and use up SEO keywords and take some time to research your audience, what they find useful, and what they need. Then, structure your topics, categories and content around that, instead.
Don’t forget that content format also matters in usefulness. Someone who is busy and on-the-go will naturally gravitate to content that’s easier to see on mobile, such as video or simple graphics, than long-form text content. Experiment to discover what works best without increasing bounce rates.
Content Isn’t (Always) Sales Communication
This tip from Joe Pulizzi covers one of the most common and under-appreciated mistakes in the content world: assuming your content should always sell something or push your products and services. “That’s not content marketing. That’s just sales collateral,” Pulizzi shares. “We talk to the smallest and biggest brands out there…We say, ‘show us your content marketing’ and it’s all about the company’s products and services, their new widget, their latest award.
The problem with this approach is that most content channels are already oversaturated with similar messaging. We see it on social media sites, on websites, in apps, even embedded in YouTube videos now through video advertising. And that’s exactly what your content becomes when you make it about your products – a form of advertising.
To clarify, there isn’t anything wrong with content as advertising when your true intention is to advertise the product. Without it, there would be no such thing as product descriptions, sales brochures, or landing pages. But content-as-advertising should be a part of your content creation strategy, not its defining characteristic. And that means mixing it up and re-evaluating your content and how it serves your audience.
Pulizzi also says that content marketing should be about making yourself a leader within your chosen media channel. We share his sentiment that the best way to do that is to create “compelling, interesting” content your audience really finds useful and interesting. He suggests auditing all of your content and asking yourself:
- Is it helpful?
- Is it interesting?
- Is it well-targeted to your audience?
Then, become one of your industry’s best “information providers” – someone who shares the latest and best information either first or in a more digestible format than everyone else. Your goal isn’t necessarily always to sell, but to compel.
Use (And Interact With) Your Influencers
Lilach Bullock’s area of expertise is social media, so her content tips are often targeted very specifically to sites like Instagram or Facebook. One of her most pressing themes is the idea that some of the best content doesn’t come from content marketers, but from the influencers they hire to create content. So, use influencers to your advantage if and when you can.
Think your business can’t afford to use influencers? You’re probably over-estimating the cost. Bullock mentions this in her blog post, The 4 Principles of Psychology, where she highlights that you don’t need to wait to lock down the “best of the best.” Instead, you should look for influencers who have at least a small reach and can somehow make a real difference in your marketing or your brand. If that’s a small-time influencer from your area of operation, that’s just fine, too.
Once you get involved in influencers, do your best to foster that relationship because it’s truly a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. Mention them on birthdays or special achievements and don’t be afraid to interact with them. They’ll tweet or share you in return. And every time that interaction happens, you’ll both enjoy increased attention.