So what’s a content marketer like you to do? We suggest the following seven ways to stand out from the crowd.
Rally Around Your Purpose
Too many content programs are created in isolation without a clear connection to a company or brand’s reason for being. If you can’t answer why your company is in business, chances are your content lacks a purpose as well. For example, Jennifer Dominiquini, CMO of BBVA Compass, connects all of the organization’s marketing activities through its “banking on a brighter future” promise. The result is content that is inspirational to employees and customers alike.
Hire Talented Storytellers
Humans are hard-wired to respond favorably to emotional stories, yet 98% of branded content lacks any of the elements of good storytelling (narrative, conflict, character development, etc.). To address this, some brands like IBM, GE and Cisco have hired professional storytellers from Hollywood, magazines and even comedy troupes. Others have turned to agencies who have embraced the tenets of storytelling and trained their teams accordingly.
Embrace Quality Over Quantity
As brands feel compelled to fill up their content calendars, the overall quality-per-piece tends to decline, which has a compounding deleterious effect on future readership. One brilliantly written post by your CEO is worth at least 12 by your junior marketing manager. Authorship matters, as does authority. Warren Buffett writes one shareholder letter each year and it is prized among its many readers. For inspiration, take a look at some of these top-ranked blogs by CEOs.
Become an Ongoing News Source
Have you heard of Quinnipiac? How about Bard? We’ll guess you answered yes to the first and no to the second. Why the huge discrepancy in awareness? Quinnipiac has become famous for its polling, the results of which are quoted in the media all the time. The lesson here for savvy marketers is clear — become a news source by gathering your own research data that can also be used to inform customer service, product development and employee recruiting.
Give Your Best a Boost
Let’s assume you’ve followed the tips above and have created what you think is an extraordinary piece of content. Now it’s time to post and pray, right? Wrong. Even great content deserves, or more to the point, requires a boost from paid media. On Facebook, this is particularly easy because the site will tell you when a post is doing better than average organically—and those are the posts to support even if you are doing so against a finite audience.
Extend with Unique Content-Driven Events
As screens, and especially mobile devices dominate our lives, we are anticipating a counter-trend toward the need for actual human contact. Brands that recognize this trend and create events that bring people together will have the dual opportunity to bond with their customers and capture content that can extend the value of the event indefinitely. IBM has had great success with this approach, most recently with the launch of World of Watson.
Test, Test and Test Some More
Since taking over as publisher of Social Media Explorer, we’ve conducted an endless stream of tests helping to increase site traffic by 50%, increase time on the site by 20%, decrease bounce rate, double our email subscribers, increase our newsletter open and click-through rates while lowering our opt-out rate. We’ve tested headlines (sadly, “listicles” always win), images (don’t go overboard with animated gifs) and author types (influence matters). And the testing continues.