Content Crisis – How do you create really great content?
Well I’ve been in this game for a while now, and I’ve learnt a few things in my time.
The first thing is that the word ‘content’ is bandied about an awful lot in the digital marketing world. Got a new site, where’s the content? Got an old site, where’s the content? A new blog… you get the idea. But it seems that the content creator’s role is very important, but you can’t just create content on a whim – there has to be a depth to it if it’s going to be effective in your marketing activities.
So, how do you create really great content?
- Make Sure There Is A Good Strategy Behind It
The thing about content is that you put a lot of work into it, and if it’s not effective then it can be a big waste of time. You want your content to serve a purpose, be it increased traffic, conversions or anything else you might be aiming for.
The best way to ensure that happens is to have a solid strategy behind your content, so you know that it’s going to be effective. If you’ve got an idea for a new blog, think about it first. What is the search traffic like for your target audience and what search terms do they use? If you can make a judgment that there is enough search traffic then a blog could be very effective – if not, maybe consider something else.
You need a well-thought out plan before doing anything else – otherwise you’re aiming with your eyes closed and who knows what, if anything, you’ll hit.
Wherever your content is, if it’s copy on the site itself, a blog post or offsite content, you will have to be informative. This is especially true of the site’s copy, as it’s where a user will want specific information to get a clear idea of what the site is about quickly.
Blogs and offsite content are great when done with an educational or informative spin. This is because if a user is reading your blog they should be familiar enough with the subject matter, and your brand, for them to learn something new.
Creating ‘How To’ guides or other informative pieces of content means that you can provide some really useful resources for people – and that’s the key to its value for the user. If you have a subject that’s complex, for example something IT related, then create some content that explains it an easy to read and digestible way. Infographics are fantastic for informative content, as they allow a large amount of information to be conveyed quickly and in a relatively small space.
So, if you have a site that is for a mechanic then why not put together a little guide to changing your oil as your next blog post? It’s a simple thing, informing people, but it’s what people really want to know when they type in ‘How do you change the oil in your car’, so indulge them! Try to optimise your titles for keywords that are relevant to your site and you should find you rank well in search too – which is a another benefit.
Another important aspect is the way in which you approach your content in terms of entertainment. It’s great to inform, but if you’re informing about a more stereotypically ‘boring’ subject then you might want to inject a little personality to spice it up a bit.
A good tip is to follow the brands tone of voice and really try and have fun with the user. A tongue-in-cheek writing style can enhance a dull subject – and if you’re entertaining it makes the user feel good and not as though they’re wasting their time, and they’ll remember that positive feeling and associate it with your website and your brand.
You can be entertaining in the copy on your site; this is a great way to get people hooked on what you have to say. A bit of humour can help you achieve this, for example you could try and write the copy as a narrative – something along the lines of “Company X was forged in the fiery pit of Town Y, and a mighty campaign was fought born by Person Z to ensure Company X always provides great service”.
Of course, this style will depend on your brand and it might not be appropriate. But if you’ve got a fun, friendly and laid back brand then try and really get creative. Be playful, have fun and just try and make the user smile in your content.
For blogs and offsite content, ‘Top 10’s’ are great for entertainment value. You could do a ‘Top 5’ instead or even divide it up into 2 pieces of content – episodic content can be very entertaining. If you can take pictures or make a video to go along with your content, you’re likely to give the user enough attention grabbing features to keep them on the hook. So, try and make an impact on the user reading your content and make it entertaining so that they’ll want to come back for more.
- Provoke An Emotional Reaction
This might sound a little odd at first, but it’s great for getting a discussion going. If you can ask some sort of ethical or moral question, anything people are likely to have a strong opinion on, then you can tap into the passion people have for these subjects.
Content relating to the environment is a good example of this. For example, if you’re running a solar panel company then you could write a blog titled ‘Is Solar Paneling The Most Effective Renewable Technology?’. Whether it is or not is a matter of opinion, but it’s likely to stir up some emotions from people who agree and disagree. Of course the substance of your post will need to be there too, so try and write in a debate style weighing up the pros and cons of the argument.
Ethical questions are great too, for example if you run an IT supply company then you could ask ‘Is It Right For Cloud Computing To Collect Data From Employees?’, or something to that effect, that poses a moral question to the user.
It’s also worth inviting the user to discuss with you directly, so include a call to action at the end in order to promote some discussion in your comments section. When provoking a response, you can get a very keen and avid user wanting to engage with you – which is a great way of increasing traffic and search performance as well as keeping users involved and emotionally invested in your site. It’s difficult to think of more obscure examples, and this sort of content might not fit on every site – but it’s a good way of making sure your content has a high value to the user.
If you can inform, entertain or provoke an emotional reaction with your content then you can be certain that the content has value and is not merely ‘fluff’ that’s filling space on the net. Fluff content is easily spotted by the user, so you’re fooling nobody if you’re creating content that isn’t useful in some way. On top of that, fluff content will lead your users to ultimately associate your site and brand with a negative opinion.
So, whilst content is king just remember the points outlined in this post and always think to yourself ‘Would I like to read, look at or watch or listen to this?’. After all, if you wouldn’t – then why should anyone else.