Thinking up ways to spur growth in your business?
Want to do content marketing and you’ve hit a wall on what to actually do?
If you’re just getting started with content marketing it can be hard to grasp which types of content are the best fit for your business.
Should you be blogging? Maybe you’ll get the most benefit from producing beautiful infographics?
A lot of people are listening to podcasts now, would that be a good fit for you?
Here’s a thorough breakdown of some of the main content marketing channels for your business and the different ways you can use them.
For ease of reading, I’ve broken them down into three rough categories: Written, Visual, and Video.
Far and away the most popular form of content marketing. They have a great long-term impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, are accessible at almost any time by your target audience, and can be produced at a relatively low cost in comparison to some of our later examples.
There’s very little barrier to entry, and a high probability that you’ll get something out of it. Companies that blog get 97% more inbound links than companies who don’t!
The information contained in your blogs can also act as a foundation for future content. If you write a blog post that performs well, consider expanding it into a whitepaper. Podcasts and videos can also be based on an earlier blog, or serve as a jumping-off point for more in-depth conversations.
These are extended pieces of content focused on educating the reader on a specific topic.
Because they go into a lot more detail, they can be quite intimidating, but also have a much higher perceived value. Clients and prospects should be able to reference your whitepaper as a good resource for your industry.
Whitepapers work best when used in tandem with shorter, more immediately informative content like blogs and infographics. These shorter pieces convince your audience that they need a specific tool or service. Follow up on them with a whitepaper to educate the reader on exactly why that tool or service is so valuable.
Whitepapers make excellent ‘gated content’.
If you want to collect information on your audience like emails, offer a whitepaper in exchange for that information. This way, you both get what you want. The customer now knows how to maintain their own car, and you can add them to your mailing list.
Remember that the person who downloads your whitepaper may share it on. Make sure that your company information is visible so that the people they share it with are exposed to your brand as well.
Infographics and charts:
Infographics are huge at the moment, particularly on social media.
They go down very well with visual thinkers, and people who don’t have time to consume a detailed blog post or whitepaper.
Their popularity does also mean that there are a load of BAD infographics on the web as well. That’s why it’s important that before you go all-in on infographics, you memorize these rules:
★ Give it one purpose – The best infographics are focused. Want to visualize how many miles of salami get used by a sandwich shop every day at lunch? Don’t distract from that by mentioning how many miles the line in the sandwich shop adds up to as well. Focus on your key message and nail it.
★ It’s for visual thinkers – A bunch of text with a couple of images doesn’t make an infographic. Visual thinkers love infographics, but if you draw them in with the promise of an easy-to-understand graphic and hit them with a wall of text, they’ll hate it.
★ Prioritize information – They’re called INFOgraphics for a reason. If you’ve got a great idea for an image, but it’s going to confuse your message, ditch it. Your priority is to communicate information. Yes, do it in a way that is unique and interesting, but that’s secondary to ease of understanding.
GIFs and Images:
If you’re looking to develop a strong presence on social, creating GIFs and images that people want to share is a must.
GIFs, in particular, are hugely popular (even Linkedin has GIF support!).
If you can match a quality GIF with your messaging then you’ll see great engagement. It’s been interesting to see GIF use become more acceptable for business accounts at a similar rate to emojis. Both are now widely accepted as a way of spreading your brand quickly around the web.
(Pro-Tip: People love cats.)
Vlogs are video blogs. Vlogs will work really well for some companies, and completely bomb for others. They’re a very personal kind of content, often with a single person talking into a camera. If you want to make a personal connection with your audience, vlogging is definitely worth considering.
One of the best ways to create instant value for your audience. If you have a service or product which you can do a physical demonstration of (even if it’s just writing on a board), do it. People love video tutorials because they’re accessible, re-watchable, and easily shared. Wistia (unsurprisingly) make excellent tutorial videos for their audience.
A great tutorial should be:
Don’t spend too much time talking about what you’re going to do. Apps like Vine and 30 second YouTube clips mean that people are impatient with video. Get straight to the point
For the same reason as above, try to condense your tutorial into as tight a timeframe as possible. This doesn’t mean you should rush through the class, though. Just cut out any excess fluff.
Make it as accessible as possible. Imagine that someone’s coming to your video with no background knowledge. Also, try and create videos that support one another. Just as you can write blog pieces which support and develop other blogs, you should create videos that support one another.
★ Well scripted
Take some time to script any tutorials that you’re going to deliver. It’s easy to think of a video tutorial as something you can do ‘quick and dirty’ because what you’re teaching is simple to you. Remember that the people who will get the most value for the tutorial won’t find it anywhere near as simple, and script your videos with that in mind.
Stories and other narrative content:
Pull out your writing chops and whip up a story that can show your product in action or just build up on the story of your brand. Because of YouTube and other video streaming sites, distributing content isn’t a hard science anymore, so businesses have been more willing to invest more time, money and creativity into video content that actually stands alone and tells stories.
Native content or sponsored content are also popular in the world of video content marketing. Businesses get in touch with existing popular users and influencers on sites like Vine, Youtube and Periscope, and they strike up a deal where the business produces a video that’s not overtly promotional and provides entertainment value to the channel owner’s audience. BuzzFeed has been agressively doing this and it’s been working for brands like Purina and Hyundai.
Webinars and Interviews:
Two of the longer kinds of content marketing you can produce. They are also fantastic for building community and some buzz around your brand. If you can get together with interesting people in your niche to talk about things that your audience cares about, you will create tremendous brand pull. As well as content marketing, webinars and interviews are a kind of influencer marketing. By associating with other experts, you automatically align yourself in your audience’s mind as an authority.
Webinars and interviews are easy to host these days, thanks to resources like Google Hangouts. You can live stream a webinar from within the app, promote that stream on social media, publish it to your YouTube channel and promote it again. Video webinars and interviews can also easily be converted into audio. By doubling up your video as audio content you can reach a whole other audience.
(A word of advice— if you do start creating videos, invest in decent equipment. If you’re going to ask your audience to spend time watching a video, you want to make sure it’s a pleasant experience for them.)
Consider linking different types of content and content ideas
None of these channels exists in a vacuum. You will see the best outcome for your business if you have your different channels interact with one another:
- Expand a great blog into a discussion point for a podcast or webinar.
- A topic in an interview could inspire a series of blogs.
- Consider turning a tutorial into a series of gifs or images to share on social media.
- An animated webinar can become an extensive whitepaper
Whilst it’s best to focus on one channel at a time, always keep in the mind the ways that content from one channel could work in another future channel. You’re not only making work easier for yourself, you’re also making valuable information available to an audience who might otherwise have skipped over it because it didn’t appeal to them originally.
Finally, always keep your ear to the ground to see what’s up and coming.
Once you know what works for your audience, you’ll be able to spot opportunities to reach them much easier. The sooner you can get a foothold in new channels, the sooner you can reap the benefits and grow your audience.
Got any questions about these content types? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!