Content marketing is about attracting attention.
Then it’s about turning that into engagement and converting that into leads and customers. The ultimate goal is to create such loyal fans and advocates that they rave about you online and offline. That’s when the real magic happens. You only have to look at Apple that has its customers waiting in lines for 48 hours to get their latest phones to understand that fan power.
But that goal of attracting traffic and attention is getting harder.
What has made the challenge of getting noticed in a noisy world so much harder? Why is it that a 200 word blog post just doesn’t cut it anymore?
Why is it getting harder?
When I started creating content I could write 300-400 words without any visuals and we were all happy. Today it’s 1,000 plus words and you need a bunch of visuals.
There are a few elements that led us to this explosion in data.
The content standard has been dialled up. People expect more for free. The volume of information created has exploded due to everyone becoming publishers. We all have smart phones and the growth and access to hundreds of social networks.
We have also seen the dramatic increase in the number people having internet access.
Noise has accelerated.
The growth in web content
To put some perspective on this explosion of content and web traffic here are the facts on the growth of content and the internet.
Since 2008 when I started using social networks this is what has happened:
- The number of people online has more than doubled from 1.4 billion to over 3 billion
- Facebook has gone from 80 million users to more than 1.4 billion
- Twitter had 2 million accounts and now it is 300 million and counting.
- The number of smartphones was 250 million in 2008 and today there are more than 2 billion. That is an 800% increase!
Today this is what happens every minute on the web.
- 4 million search queries on Google
- Facebook users share 2.46 million pieces of content
- Email users send 204 million messages
So that is your challenge. It is your competition. Daunting isn’t it.
So how do you win?
To win you have to do two things first. Create the best content you can and grow your online distribution for that content.
Content needs to achieve a few things to get shared. Inform, entertain, educate and inspire.
The specific tactics and media preferences also vary between platforms. Blogs require a variety of content types. On Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram it is all about images.
The type of content that people love to share is not just about going viral but content that keeps getting shared when it is discovered on Twitter or in an email.
Here are some content marketing tips that will help in getting your content shared..
1. How to’s
Showing people how to do something in a blog post is an oldie but a goodie. It might not go viral but adding that value to your readers gets them to share with colleagues, bosses and peers.
2. Large listicles
These can be fun or serious. They can be positive, negative and sometimes just plain silly. But I discovered the power of using a large negative list to drive sharing with this headline in 2010, “30 Things You Should Not Share in on Social Media”.
3. Statistics and facts
This has worked for me for years and has led to this post ranking #1 on Google for “social media facts“. If you look hard enough in almost any industry you will find amazing facts and figures that people,will love to know about.
Let’s look at an industry like events or conferences.
I was in Las Vegas recently and I heard some facts about how many conventions are held every year and the number of delegates.
22,103 conventions were held in 2014 and the number of attendees? 5,169,054. Those numbers I find fascinating.
Infographics were really hot and now they are just hot as a shareable piece of content. Here is an example from the Bufferapp blog. Using multiple infographics in one post can also work really well
5. Authentic images of people
Upworthy uses raw but real photos a lot in its content. Here is an example titled. “Rather than let his student’s baby continue to cry, this professor took matters into his own hands.”
It was the #3 top shared article for the week.
6. Personal photographs
Social media has moved the dial between what used to be treated as private and what is now considered safe for public viewing.
It is different for everyone.
But reveal something personal and be willing to share it….and your friends, fans and followers will crowd source the marketing for you.
7. Tweets with images
This type of content wasn’t available just 18 months ago. But with Twitter changing its platform to be more visual at the end of 2013 the rules of engagement changed. I have found that mini-infographics (or snapshots of a larger infographic) can be one of the most effective.
Here is the top media tweet for April from my Twitter account
8. Curiosity gap headlines
The headlines that work and don’t work has been challenged by experimentation and data on a social web. Longer headlines that tease your curiosity gene can work very well. This headline has 13 words.
The data tells us that. So do some experimenting of your own.
9. Long form content
Blog articles that are 1,500 words will not be a viral piece of content. But if done well they will become a resource for your niche, be printed off and put senior managers desk or even the CEO.
This article is nearly 3,000 words and continues to be shared.
10. Articles with multiple images
Buzzfeed has perfected the art of stacking images in articles. Here is one of their most popular articles of all time with over 15 million views. This tactic is very effective because you are giving your article the best chance to resonate with your audience so it “has” to be shared. They also make it easy for the reader to share by using technology that enables share buttons to pop up as you mouse over each image.
If it was just one or two images it would not have received that level of viral traffic.
11. Quotes as an image
With Twitter becoming more visual you need to mix up the text tweets with visual tweets. Using a tool like Canva to turn quotes into images can increase sharing by 200-300%.
Kim Garst does this on her Twitter account on a regular basis to great effect.
Optimizing the content
So you have created the content people love to share and now you just publish it. Take a deep breath. You need to optimize your content for a variety of factors.
You need to consider some of these factors: But these will vary according to content types and platforms.
Short attention spans. So use a mix of punchy catchy text mixed with visuals
Readability. Use simple language, rhythm in your writing and sub-titles
Sharing: These include social sharing buttons and plugins that enable image sharing (use a technology like Snip.ly)
Search engines: Many don’t spend that last bit of effort to ensure your content is optimized for search engines.
Mobile: Many websites are seeing 50% of their traffic coming from mobile. This should be a priority
This fine tuning and optimization can produce big benefits when combined.
A final and strange tip.
Use odd numbers in your list headlines. If you check out Buzzfeed’s headlines they are almost always an odd number.
They work better than even numbers.
Over to you
What content works for you? Any results that have surprised you? Look forward to reading your insights and stories in the comments below.