There is a war going on but you maybe haven’t noticed.
It is a battle for eyeballs and Google attention. It is a content war where the best rises to the top. Readers and viewers vote with social signals such as retweets, plus ones on Google+ and Facebook likes and shares.
The Web landscape has provided the means for everyone to become a publisher. So your competition is everyone with a smart phone, a blog and a website.
At last count there were 1 billion smart phone users, 550 million websites and 300 million blogs.
That’s a lot of competition!
Social networks have allowed us to not only create content but reach a global audience.
But shouting at 2 billion people who have internet access is hard. But you don’t have to reach everyone, just those that care about your type of information. It might be feline lovers who want see cats cats in pyjamas or pet owners that love dressing up their dogs in tights.
Social platforms such as Twitter allow us to speak to our tribes, fans and followers that are interested in your topic of choice. Keep it focused and the battle for attention is much easier.
So what are the challenges to create that content that reaches and resonates with your followers and attracts new eyeballs?
- Finding the ideas and inspiration – “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” So read books, blogs and watch TED talks. Consume content with focused persistence that is relevant to your industry.
- My ideas are not original – Many people think that they have to come up with original ideas every time. Start with curating other people’s content that puts a collection of ideas in one article.
- Forgetting about “you” – Companies often talk all about themselves. You need to forget you and produce content that educates, informs and inspires your audience.
- Building a platform – Sometimes trying to build a blog is too big a technical challenge. Give it to an expert to do.
- Marketing – Content needs to be found. So building social networks, optimising for search engines and building email lists is a challenge that needs to be overcome and focused on.
- Managing it – Engaging with your audience as they respond is a task that wil require vigilance.
The opportunities are global and far reaching if you can overcome the challenges.
- Expert – Content will position you and your brand over time as a thought leader.
- Networking opportunities – Connecting online will lead to face to face meetings that will make the virtual connection real and strong.
- It has given the introvert a voice – If you feel that you are too quiet to be successful then content and a platform will provide you with an online platform and channel.
- Online asset – Content built up overtime provides opportunity to create our own online asset & IP that you own.
- Monetise your content – By packaging your content online and selling it as an online course, book on Amazon or a paid seminar content can be turned into cash.
Below is the visual representation of “How to Unleash the Power of Content” on Slideshare that was the keynote at the Social Slam Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
What I learned about Creating Content that Spreads
In building my blog over the last 4 years I have discovered some insights and important principles that I discovered about creating content on my platform.
1. Start – Just starting is vital don’t wait for someone to push you. Pick yourself and just start.
2. Perfection – We stand outside the arena and say “I am going to go in and kick some ass when I am bullet proof and perfect. That is seductive. The truth is that you will never be perfect” – Author Brene Brown “Daring Greatly” You will never be perfect. Just start.
3. Passion and Purpose – Start with your passion and purpose, as the fuel this will get you up early and keep you up late as you create content.
4. Audience – Know who your audience is and give them the content they crave. Solve their problems and keep focused.
5. Add Value – Provide as much value as you can possibly give.
6. Simple – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein. Don’t use big words, corporate speak or acronyms. Keep it simple.
7. Headline – You only have seconds to get them to read the rest of your content before they click away. Learn to write great headlines.
8. Structure – After the headline comes the introduction. Then it’s sub-titles and content that makes it easy to read. Build your content for skimming and scanning. Don’t scare readers away with a wall of text.
9. Multi-media – Content can be created in so many media. Turn a blog post into a presentation on Slideshare, a podcast or a YouTube video.
10. Build for sharing – Make sure that you have Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons as a minimum.
11. Persist – Building a loyal following that loves your content will take time so persistence is core and necessary.
Types of Content That People Love to Share
So here are some ideas to create content that people will want to share on a visual, mobile and high speed social web.
#1. Create Lists
I can hear some of you yawning. The reality is that in a time poor world giving people a list of things to do or 10 tips for creating a great video are the types of headlines and article that people click on. Packaging and chunking it down tells your reader you aren’t wasting their time and it is easy to read and view.
Creating this type of content still works and works well.
#2. Go Negative
It is sad but true but most people prefer to hear bad news or know about things that they shouldn’t be doing or avoiding. Take the negative angle to a story or learning and be surprised by the traffic.
The last two years has seen the rise of information that presents complex data and information with a combination of text and images. It’s called “Infographics”
Infographics is a media that has a propensity to get shared on Pinterest and passed around on Twitter.
#4. Curate content
Take a topic and find some of the best articles on it when you do a Google search. Package it up and serve it to your readers. You have saved them time and effort by putting all that information in one place.
They will love you a little bit more!!
#5. Provide “How To’s”
It never ceases to surprise me the appetite for simple instructions that take people by the hand and shows them where to start and the steps along the way. Provide a “how to” framework that makes it easy to read, understand and implement.
Your blog will be valued and admired.
People want to know what is happening whether it is in their industry, city or the world. Help them find it easily and quickly. Create, publish and promote this content fast. It has a nasty habit of becoming outdated and irrelevant very quickly!!
Get it right and the news break streams over the web in a torrent of tweets.
Huffington Post and Mashable are a success beacuse of this.
Provide research backed facts wrapped up in a well structured article whether it is a singular or multiple source and they are printed off (or emailed) and put in front of the managers and CEO’s eyeballs. If the university research says it is true… it is!!
Many people want proof before they make that first step of action.
#8. Case Studies
Research is great but real world case studies are the real proof that it works. Provide a multiple list of case studies and it is lapped up and shared by your advocates on the social web.
#9. Evergreen Content
The web demands fresh news and content very minute of every day. In this frenzy of informing it is often forgotten to tap into the power of content that is just as relevant in 2 years time as it is today. It is content that can be continued to be promoted and shared with your readers for a long time. Create content that is a framework or covers first principles and you will give it longevity and endurance.
Create content that takes screenshots or uses images to convey an idea, concept or story. It provides emtional impact and they get shared on Facebook more than any other content type. A tool that helps me do this is Snagit and it is now an indispensable part of my content creation and optimising toolkit.
Images can take your content from average to awesome!!
When creating a content you can share your story and ideas many ways but as online video now streams easily on the high speed internet it needs to be included in your content marketing mix. It can be a direct to camera video, a video capturing your screen (such as the Camtasia software) or it can be sourcing videos from YouTube that enhance your story.
Slideshare is the YouTube for Powerpoint presentations.It is often underestimated as a means of making your content accessible and attractive. It is also a very visual platform that displays ideas and concepts quickly and easily. You can take your articles, research papers and blog posts and put them into a Powerpoint that can then be uploaded to Slideshare.
In the last year I have used it more extensively and views of my Slideshare account are now averaging from 25,000 to 35,000 views a month and total views are now over 400,000.
It is a format for your content that should be seriously considered.
#13. Top 10 Lists
People love to know who or what is on top in almost any category or sector that you care to name. Create content that display this and watch the traffic spike.
Example: 10 Top Pinterest Boards
#14. Tool or Application Reviews
Everyone is looking for better ways,tools and apps that make life easier in what is sometimes seen as a complicated web world. Make it easy for your readers to find and download the software.
#15. Solving problems
Provide step by step instructions about the major issues that plague your industry. This content adds enormous value to your readers and great content creation is always about adding value.
#16. Statistics and facts
Content that outlines the latest statistics and facts are always an option that produces clicks and shares. People are intrigued by the bigger and better and articles about this are always a hit.
Put a quote on Twitter or Facebook and watch the “likes” leap. Nothing like an inspiring quote to put a gleam in someone’s eye to start their day.
Example: Stephen King on what is required to be a good writer “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
What about you?
What have been your challenges and opportunities. What ideas have worked for you in the past. Are there some you would like to try?
How is the visual web treating your content, sharing and liking?
Look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below.
Want to learn how to create great content?
My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.
I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 140,000.