As the wise and fearless Amelia Earhart said, “The best way to do it, is to do it!” When it comes to producing original content on behalf of your company or your personal brand, it is equally as important to buckle down, do it, and do it right. There is certainly no lack of content out there on many of the topics you want to write about, so making sure you are doing everything you can in order to attract your defined audience to YOUR content is more important than ever.
Here are eight simple, perhaps obvious, tips on ways to improve your content marketing right now.
1. Be Different
You may not always be able to say something new and earth shattering about the topic you are writing about, but you most certainly need to be able to put your original spin on an existing idea. Creating content is not about re-creating the wheel; it’s about expressing something meaningful to your audience that adds value to their lives and will attract them to you and your business. Sharing your personality, using your own style of writing, injecting humor, sharing what you are all about helps you stand out in your industry to your audience. Brian Fanzo, entrepreneur and social media thought leader, is someone I met on Twitter (@iSocialFanz) and whom I admire very much. He is a great model of how being your authentic self and expressing your own voice is exactly how you can differentiate yourself from others and what can make your content stand out in a crowded space. His personal mantra: #ShowUCare.
2. Make Sure You Answer “Why” in the First Few Sentences
You better make it crystal clear why someone should read your post as quickly as possible. Knowing that a person’s average attention span is only 8 seconds long, to capture your readers’ attention online means you need to have the ability to distill your entire post into one sentence. Think back to those traditional thesis statements you had to master in middle school… it makes your writing better.
3. Make it Skimmable
Your audience wants to skim your post before they actually read it. It’s imperative that you format your post in a way that allows for the easiest consumption of your content. Numbered lists, blocked paragraphs, distinguished headers, and complimentary imagery all go a LONG way to make your content easy to digest and, subsequently, desirable to share. If readers can take in the gist of your entire post quickly, they are more likely to go back and spend more time engaging with you and your content.
4. Use Visual Content
I don’t care what you use, but use something! Anyone who isn’t using visuals to enhance their content is missing a gigantic opportunity. We are busy people and we are also visual people. Videos, charts, infographics, pictures, memes, symbols, slideshare …anything. Use them or you will certainly have a higher bounce rate on your content. There are great resources out there that make it super easy for you to add visual content to your written content. Check out Canva if you aren’t familiar. They are one of the best resources I know of helping content creators add visual elements to their content in a fun, easy, and relevant way.
5. Use Keywords Your Audience is Searching On
You do not need to pepper your article with antiseptic internet search language, but if you are researching what your target audience is most interested in reading about, I’m sure you’ll discover a few terms you can naturally work into your content. Making your content more easily accessible is exactly the point, just be certain to do it in a way that is subtle to your audience and authentic to your brand voice.
6. Cite Your Sources & Give Credit Where it is Deserved
This is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Citing your sources and linking back is what demonstrates expertise, credibility and integrity: non-negotiable traits of original content creators. With the dawn of the Digital Age, we certainly enjoy far more leniency when it comes to standard rules of writing. One rule that won’t disappear and that content creators help to reinforce in our online communities is citing sources.
I came across one of the most egregious cases of plagiarism on LinkedIn. Ariella Combs wrote an incredible article that was quite literally copied and posted by another LinkedIn user a couple days later. The offender ventured to take full credit for her work, word for word, and the LinkedIn community roiled over the transgression. Fortunately, most of us would never dream of doing anything so dishonest. We have a professional obligation to cite our sources and an opportunity to promote those whose ideas have helped inspire our own.
7. Use Stories & Examples to Illustrate Your Points
Don’t just tell your audience what you want them to know, show them. Some of the best techniques to accomplish this is through the telling of stories in narrative form or referencing examples. You can improve your content exponentially when you go beyond sharing information and showing your audience how it will work … for them! I’ll never forget witnessing a presentation by Dewitt Jones, former National Geographic photographer and now national speaker. During an event I organized in my past life as an in–house marketer, he was our keynote speaker. His presentation was a series of his photographs put in a particular order so that he could share one of the most inspiring messages I have ever heard on perspective… and he did so by telling stories perfectly complimented and timed by the images on the screen.
8. Offer Actionable Insights
Does your content offer actionable steps your readers can take that will add value to their lives or business? Actionable is often a great filter to use to determine if your content will be useful to your audience. Whether it is one big idea or a series of smaller steps that can be taken, providing actionable nuggets of information will not only be helpful to others, but it also positions you as a resource for future needs and questions around the same or similar topics. If you know something well enough to teach someone else, you become the expert. If you can solve a need or problem, you become the solution.
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