Content marketing: the term is floating across the Internet as SEO professionals try to
educate marketers regarding new Internet marketing trends. High quality content has almost completely taken the place of flashy, fluffy content that catches the eye but doesn’t engage the mind. Mikal Belicove’s Entrepeneur.com blog post is one of the best discussions on the kingship of content marketing. Belicove, like the rest of the modern marketing world, understands that consumers want quality, not quantity.
Drifting Away from the Flashy and Fluffy
The days of flashy advertisements reminiscent of neon window painting on a car dealer’s store are gone from the Internet. Now, Internet content needs to be real and solid. It needs to entertain. It needs to inform. Above all, it needs to help fulfill a customer need. Many businesses are making the mistake of creating content with the sole purpose of making a sale. Content marketing, however, is much more than that. Your content doesn’t have to advertise a product. Your content simply has to attract an audience.
This is very important to understand. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, and everything you post starts with “buy this” or “purchase that,” all you are going to accomplish is becoming annoying to consumers. If, however, the content you post is fresh and engaging, customers will become interested in your brand, your website, your products, and your services. Content marketing transforms disinterested readers into paying customers.
Content that Entertains
One of the greatest forms of high quality content consists of articles, photos, videos, and headlines that strictly entertain. The Internet is one of the biggest resources for entertainment in the world, and many Internet users log on to their favorite sites simply because they want to laugh out loud. If you can generate content that is entertaining, your customers will share what you post.
Facebook and Twitter are filled with links to articles, videos, and photos that have captions like “Laugh out loud funny” and “Hilarious.” Why? Because these are the things that customers want to read about and watch. These are the breaks from the mundane that get us through the workday. If you can make entertaining content correspond with your brand, your content marketing strategy will be in good shape.
Content that Informs
So, your brand isn’t conducive to a barrel of laughs a minute? Don’t worry. Content that is incredibly informative is also a great part of effective content marketing. If you have articles and videos that communicate information which interests your customers, you can develop a reputation as a trusted resource for the latest news and industry developments. This reputation will earn you paying customers.
Content that Helps
One of the best forms of content that you can use in your marketing strategy is content that helps. If you run a home decorating business, create eBooks that provide tips on color and spacing. If your business is plumbing, create content that walks consumers through complicated plumbing fixes. Helpful content establishes you as a business that cares about customer satisfaction and education.
Develop a Reliable Content Image
The purpose of all this high quality content is not to make you a slave to social media. It’s not to wear you out or even expand your own ideas and skills. The purpose of the content that you post is strictly to help solidify your brand’s image in the mind of the consumer. As consumers, we make opinions about companies, businesses, and brands in a split second. Our consumer opinions, however, are never permanent. Think of your brand’s image as an onion. Every time you post new content, you add a layer to your brand image. However, those layers need to fit together seamlessly. When you use content marketing to communicate ideas about your business, your content needs to be consistent and reliable.
Customers need to know what to expect from the content you produce. This isn’t to say you can’t surprise your customers. However, if you reliably post social activism articles and videos, and one day you switch to posting a crude humor video, your audience is going to be nothing if not confused.
Be Consistent with Content
Above all else, you must be consistent with the types of content that you are posting via social media and other marketing platforms. The whole principle of content marketing involves establishing a brand identity that customers can come to rely on and trust. If your content is all over the place, or if you are posting content only intermittently, customers will not be able to lean on your brand as an effective and reliable source for engaging information.
If you decide that you’re going to post new content every day, stick to that decision. If you decide that you can only handle new articles or videos once every week, choose a day to release your new content. Customers are very adept at learning when their favorite brands release new information. If a customer comes to expect an article from you every Friday, he or she will likely check your social media accounts in anticipation of that article. One of the most brilliant content marketers is Matt Inman of The Oatmeal. Inman is a comic artist who embraces everything edgy and inappropriate. Still, his fans love him, and his site is one of the most popular comic sites on the Internet.
One of the keys to Inman’s continuing popularity is his commitment to consistency. Fans of The Oatmeal know that they can check out Inman’s website on a regular basis to read new articles and laugh at new comics. If Inman decided to take a hiatus from posting, or if his comics began to decline in quality, his fans would gradually seek other entertainment sources. The Internet is filled with content that is competing with yours. The only way to preserve your audience is to keep giving them what they’ve come to expect from you.
Content marketing is the future of effective marketing. If your content is poor, uninteresting, or strictly designed to make a fast sale, customers are going to resent your brand. If you focus on creating content that is entertaining, informative, and helpful, your audience will be satiated.