August 07, 2014
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Okay, so I may be guilty of employing clickbait with the title of this post, but writing content that doesn’t sell is a must-have skill. Think about it: how often do you see an informative-but-dull article about the top five washing machines go viral? Do your friends regularly share posts where brands brag about being the best? If your social media feeds are anything like ours, you’ll agree that this kind of content slips under the radar.
‘Sell, sell, sell’ may have been the motto for many years, but attitudes are changing. Present your typical user with nothing more than a sales pitch about your newest products and they’re likely to disengage, heading straight for the nearest cat video on YouTube.
With more and more brands cottoning on to the ‘content is king’ mantra, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for your content to make waves in the online world. According to a recent study by USC Marshall, Americans — who have similar browsing habits to us Brits — will consume 15.5 hours of media a day. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you get your content right in order to stand out from the crowd. Here’s how you do it.
When creating a content calendar, it can be difficult to generate fresh, interesting ideas — especially when planning so far ahead in the future. It’s important that you keep your finger on the pulse to avoid falling into the ‘some content is better than no content at all’ way of thinking.
Take a look at what others in the industry are doing — what kind of content are they pushing out? Can you think of any ways to build on what they have done to enhance the user experience even further? I’m by no means saying copy their ideas exactly, but a little inspiration never hurt anyone!
If you have a topic in mind but are still in search of a creative direction, you could always turn to sites like BuzzSumo. This clever search facility allows you to discover what kind of content already exists around your chosen keywords. Presenting you with social media shares from a range of different platforms, the site could be instrumental in determining your content strategy.
When crafting content, you’re looking for ways to add value to the user experience. Think buying guides, how-tos and news features that will interest your audience. Your content should be informative, positioning your brand as an industry expert, while refreshing and interesting.
Just like the TV addict fast-forwards advertisements to get to the main content, users will avoid your content like the plague if you try to force your products and services onto them. Instead, create content that genuinely interests your audience, providing something they want to share.
Whatever type of content you’re creating, you’ll need to make sure it’s in the correct format. For example, a how-to guide about braiding hair can become long and complex when presented in written form — would a video not be more appropriate? Simple considerations like this could be the difference between users enjoying your content and your brand getting lost in the online world.
Another important factor to consider when creating content is how you distribute it. To reach your target audience, you need to select the correct platform.
Fashion retailers are ideal examples of this. Visual platform Instagram has been adopted by brands like ASOS and River Island as a way of directly targeting their audience. Whether their users are browsing during their commute or lunch break, the brand remains firmly implanted in the user’s mind.
The golden rule is that users aren’t going to hunt for your content. You need to present them with the right content on the right platform to ensure success.
While this content doesn’t explicitly sell, it can indirectly encourage users to shop with your brand. Interesting content gives the user food for thought. It places the brand at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, improving the company image, driving traffic to the site and naturally gaining all-important links. Content may be king, but subtlety is certainly queen.
What types of content are you most likely to interact with? Join the discussion and leave a comment below.
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