Over 20 years ago, Bill Gates' proclamation "content is king" took the world by storm. Today, it is just as true as it was then, with the world's most popular online applications those which generate and sift through content: social networks, blogs, video sharing websites and search engines. Content is still king online, but successful companies' strategies to use content are changing. The Internet today is oversaturated with content; the sheer volume being created has become dangerous. Simply put, we have created too much content. There is more content online being produced and posted now than there are searches taking place. So, how do you craft your content to keep your brand front and center in this overcrowded area?
First, increase the length of your content. In this new era of oversaturation, your content should be longer, not shorter, to better grab those search engines. It's important here to make a distinction between depth and length. Successful online content can no longer be thin or short. The longer it is, the more opportunities you have for variety in wording, which exponentially increases your chances at getting picked up by a search engine and deposited right on the results screen of your target.
Your ultimate goal with content should be to genuinely connect with your brand's potential consumers. To do that, quality original content is essential. So what determines quality? That depends on your target. When producing content, always start by determining your audience. When you know who you're targeting, you dramatically improve your ability to tailor your brand to the desired audience. For more on how to identify and target your audience, please refer to Part One of this series.
Once you've determined your audience and how best to approach them, it's time to deploy your content. Start by mapping out where SEO review is in your content deployment process, then follow the process. Generate creative content to appeal to your audience: top 10s, infographics, checklists and vanity content items like contests, pictures, client stories, featured clients and link mentions to individualize and capitalize on your brand. Remember, content isn't just text. Ask yourself how you want to be described and let that inspire your content. No one wants to be described as boring, but when we put on our corporate hats, so often that's exactly what we become. Let your unique identity inspire and inform your content. Think about it. If State Farm can make Jake [from State Farm] a household name and Geico can make a lizard famous, surely you can create some excitement for your brand as well.
How do I get them to read my post? As anyone in journalism will tell you, you have to have a catchy headline. Headlines matter, especially in this overcrowded market of consumers with short attention spans and limited amounts of time. Use numbers, ask questions, create intrigue or be direct, just be sure that your headline tells your audience what they'll get out of clicking on your content. Headlines aren't ever an exact science, so experiment. Test different headlines with apps like APPSUMO, a WordPress Plugin that automatically optimizes headlines to increase traffic, utilized successfully by the likes of BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, or Aminstitute.com: a free emotional headline analyzer. Don't forget to optimize; you can't reach your audience until you get those clicks. However, be sure to stay away from the following common, devastating mistakes: don't leave your headlines as an afterthought, don't be vague or misleading, be careful not to over-optimize, and most important of all, never forget your reader.
So what's your next step in this perilously oversaturated world wide web? OPTIMIZE for social sharing. Your website should be set up so visitors can easily pin and share your content and images. Doing so will maximize traffic to your site from social media and give you a means of measuring your social media impact. One company doing this successfully is Starbucks. Each product has its own page, image and pinnable image. Not having pinnable photos limits your raving fans from sharing your story on Pinterest. Pinners' uploaded photos of your product won’t link back to your site. So give them something they can pin. Or, as discussed in Part Two, collect their photos by having them post them with #xyz as permission to reuse them and a means for you to find them. Offer incentives to get them to send you their photos, which will be far more effective for your brand than stock photos. Use them in ads or on Facebook, hold contests to collect fan images and offer a prize to the winner. User generated photo contests provide a great way to build an internal image library, invest your consumers in your brand and eliminate your need for stock photos.