Content marketing is the new SEO, so having a great content marketing strategy helps searchers find your content. Sharing content on social networks also improves SEO, builds your reputation, and drives visitors to your website.
At a meetup last night, several loyal readers were amazed at the amount of content I produce. They thought I spent most of my time creating and spreading content as part of my content marketing strategy. In fact, I spend about an hour a day actually creating content for myself. Of course, I also create content for major clients, while my community managers create content for other clients.
What’s the secret to my content marketing strategy?
- Discipline – I set aside time every day to write and I’ve done it for YEARS. A college professor said you throw away the first 10,000 words you write. So, getting past the first 10,000 words quickly means you’ll create salvageable writing faster.
- Read voraciously – I read a lot of content written by leaders in related topics (and curate the best to my social networks). When I sit down to craft a post, I already know which topics are trending, have resources to add value to my posts and know what I can add to the conversation.
- Organization – maintain a content marketing calendar outlining post topics, resources needed, keywords, and due dates. This means you’re not staring at a blank computer screen hoping for inspiration to meet your blogging needs.
- Knowing your target audience and how to reach them — what are their problems, preferred social networks, and how to reach them.
- Understanding the dynamics of individual social networks to optimize returns
Getting the most from your content marketing strategy
Many things contribute to the success of your content marketing strategy, but today we’re going to talk about crafting the perfect post to share on each social network. Having these templates speeds the production of content and helps overcome writer’s block that can easily derail your content marketing strategy.
Today’s infographic, from My Clever Agency, provides great templates to help craft posts that support your content marketing strategy. Since they’ve done such a good job, I won’t go into a lot of detail, but several important elements stand out because they greatly impact your content marketing strategy. Plus, a few things changed since they originally published this infographic.
Call to action (CTA) in your content
Never assume readers know what you expect them to do. Ask them.
If you want folks to sign up for your electronic newsletter, include a link and ask them.
But, don’t forget your ask should be proportional to the value you provide, rather than totally self-serving. This works on most social networks. A colleague even told me I should use a stronger ask, but I prefer the subtle suggestion.
Thus, after crafting a blog post of significant value, I welcome readers to sign up for my newsletter or contact me for more information. I never ask this when sharing content on social networks because I haven’t earned that right, yet. Instead, ask questions and invite connections to read the entire post for the answers.
It isn’t appropriate to include CTA on some social networks. Networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest just don’t work when adding CTA either due to the format of shares or because of social norms on the site — or both.
Images in your content
Images are an important element of your content marketing strategy and becoming more important all the time. Images should fit your content, but also be provocative — leading readers to your site because they are drawn by the image.
Sign up at image sharing sites or create your own custom images, but beware of Google’s new capability to detect stolen images. So, pay for images or use those offered through creative commons or risk the wrath of Google. ‘nough said.
Photoshop should become your best friend unless you can afford a graphic designer. Photoshop has a steep learning curve, but it’s worth the effort. Creating custom memes and even using Microsoft Word to create custom word graphics is a cheap way to give your content a custom look.
Content marketing – trends
I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook. Everyone is sharing video — more than images, more than plain text. Personally, I don’t like so many videos as they’re a huge time suck. But, it seems to work.
Several trends occurred recently in blogging. First, rather than the feature image taking up about half of the real estate at the top of your blog post, it’s now common to see full-screen images preceding your content — just as I’ve done above. I’m not sure I like this trend, as it moves your content lower on the screen, but I’m going with the flow until I hear something negative about the practice.
The second major trend in blogging is the length of posts is increasing. It used to be you wanted posts less than about 700 – 800 words, but now I’m hearing experts advocate for posts longer than 1200 words, citing the increased performance of these longer posts. Fast Company shows a study by Copyblogger citing 1600 words as the optimal size for a post — about 7 minutes reading time. Meanwhile, Hubspot tracks blog post performance and suggests the optimal post length is — wait for it — as long as it takes to cover your subject.
Reminds me of how I answered a similar question from students asking how long their term paper should be. My answer comes from an old professor whose name is long lost in my memory, while his advice remains:
… it’s like a woman’s skirt. It should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting.
and, now for the CTA — drum roll, please.
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