Hello, hello, hello! Welcome to Tip Tuesday, where I, your illustrious internet friend, give you pointers on how to do various things in the digital multiverse (or print-verse, depending on what you're interested in hearing). I'll save the pontificating for another time, so let's get started.
If you are reading this, it is safe to assume you know your way around the digital multiverse at least a little (or you're my mother; hi mom!). Either way, you've probably posted something on Facebook, connected with someone on LinkedIn, and possibly even chirped about something over on Twitter. Congratulations, and welcome to the digital revolution (we have jackets).
I could write a book on optimizing your personal brand (and I might), but today I'll focus on increasing your brand's visibility.
As you well know, businesses are no longer stand-alone entities with sign spinners dancing outside to garner attention; they've gone digital. That means websites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, the whole shebang. If it's digital, you can bet your socks a brand is on it.
So, by now, you're probably asking "How am I supposed to compete with all that noise?" Good question, reader. Good question.
There is no fanfare, no drumroll (though feel free to insert one here if you want); the answer is simple: create amazing content.
Sounds simple, right?
So how does one go about creating the kind of content that is endlessly clickable?
1. Solve a Problem
The main reason people click through to a post is to solve a problem. That is why you're reading this now, isn't it? You wanted to know how to create killer content and you expected me to provide you with answers. Ta-da.
It might not seem as obvious to many businesses, of course, because why would anyone want to give away information for free? The answer is fairly simple: demand generation.
The catch, here, is you're not creating demand for your specific brand.
Take the Fiji Water blog, for example. With posts like "The 6 Best Exercises To Do in Bed Every Morning," they are stationing themselves as thought leaders in the health & fitness community by providing people with free, useful information that relates to the interests of Fiji Water. They are building trust and rapport with current and potential customers without actually actively selling anything. This isn't to say stop selling your product, of course, (Fiji Water plugs their brand at the end) but rather to provide your customer with something, first. It seems counter-intuitive until you think of all the pens with your company's logo on them. Content Marketing is basically a study in reciprocity, after all.
Now that you know the golden rule of Content Marketing, you're going to want to know how to get the most engagement. Social Engagement is a finicky thing, but I'll go over the basic tenets of stellar content creation and you can build from there.
2. Spend Too Much Time On Your Headline
Yes. I did say spend "too much" time on your headline. Often times you will have a thousand other obligations and after writing something long and involved, you'll want to just post it and walk away. This is a mistake I have seen all too often working in Digital Media. Your headline doesn't have to be a click-bait masterpiece or pure SEO gold, but it should be well thought out.
Generally, you're going to want your headline to be around 6 to 10 words (around 55 characters) and you will want to incorporate some of those keywords you're bound to tag at the end.
If you don't want to spend a ton of time writing and rewriting a headline, I'd suggest using a tool like CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer to make things simpler.
Second only to headlines, are images.
3. Always Use an Image
No matter what anyone tells you, always use a relevant image for your content. Always, always, always. Engagement rates are consistently higher when images are used, so don't sacrifice all of your hard work by leaving your content image-less.
Content is so much more clickable when there is a nice picture over which to hover your cursor, don't you think? I do. So do digital consumers.
Ideally, you would create a customized image for your web-wide distribution of content. You don't need to be a wiz at Photoshop or InDesign to make them, either. Canva is a great tool to make quick, social-friendly visual elements. It's free, too.
As I said, ideally you would create a customized image, but sometimes that is simply impossible given time constraints or other obligations. That doesn't mean you should forgo the image completely, however.
If you need a quick, free stock image to go with your killer content, there are plenty of sites dedicated to the pursuit of just that. PicJumbo and Unsplash are two of my favorites and they have saved me so much time.
I've mentioned a couple times that you may not have the ability to spend hours and hours researching and creating content every day. That's okay. It's completely normal, but the best content creators always seem as though they never run out of ideas because they all have one thing in common: they keep a content backlog.
4. Keep a Content Backlog
We all have those days when our inspiration is through the roof and our pens are fountains of ideas, but we often let many of those ideas flutter away because they're not as spectacular as the one we came up with five minutes ago. While your idea for a post about which gummy bear is the most delicious might not be the most appropriate at the moment, it might spark inspiration on a day when the well has run dry, so go ahead and write it down. I'm serious. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a loony idea and come up with a new one because of it.
A content backlog sounds fancy and like a lot of work, but don't worry. A content backlog doesn't have to be an elaborate spreadsheet of potential ideas (though it can be), but it should be contained within the same notebook, at least. Your backlog can be as simple as a list of ideas or as elaborate as a spreadsheet of headlines and a style guide.
Future You will thank Past You for the guidance, I promise.
Now that you've solved a problem, spent too much time on your headline, found an appropriate image, and added to your content backlog, there is one thing left to do.
5. Edit, Edit, Edit.
It's self-explanatory, but horribly underrated. You need to put eyes on your work and not the eyes that have been staring at the screen for hours. The benefit of having someone look over your writing is incalculable and you should never skip this step in the process, no matter how senior you are. The easiest way to lose credibility is for a customer to find a typo. You don't want that, trust me.
Take a step back and have your work edited.
So now that you know the basics of creating stellar content, go out and prosper.
What are your favorite tips and tricks? What would you like me to tackle next? Comment below and let's chat!
NOTE: This first appeared on my LinkedIn