Blog > Content Marketing For Beginners
Posted By Create
These days we exist in a brave new world of online marketing. It used to be reasonably commonplace for sneaky businesses to implement what's know as 'black hat' SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategies, such as link farming, in order to boost a website's search engine rankings and increase traffic to the site.
However, since the launch of search engine updates such as Google's Panda and Penguin, we find ourselves increasingly at a point in which the very best thing one can do to boost site rankings is simply to build a good-quality, high-performance website that's regularly updated with well-written, authoritative content.
This is fantastic news for innovators, writers and creatives, as it means that website success is no longer just down to clever use of technical SEO strategies, but also the quality of the writing (i.e. nonrepetitive, typo-free) on the site.
The message from search engines is now that quality, interesting, sharable and above all useful web content is the order of the day, and not only will content like this improve chances of boosted SEO but it will provide the business owner with lots and lots of stuff they can share on social media and use to bring traffic back to the site via those channels.
What Is Content?
In terms of online marketing, content is best defined not by what it is but by what it does. The ultimate goal of all content is to increase business. It can achieve this goal in a variety of different ways:
- Attracting customers through social media
- Raising brand awareness
- Attracting press coverage
- Improving website SEO
- Building company trust and authority
- Helping people!
The very best content performs a mixture of the above functions, and does this by entertaining (therefore making people want to share it), informing (making the company an authority on a subject and a trustworthy resource) and helping to solve common problems.
Consider this: a huge amount of web searches consist of people just looking for help with something. Just type 'How to' into Google Search and you'll be given an immense list of the kinds of things people are asking the Internet.
You could do your website and company a big favour by thinking of a common question that's relevant to your business and that you genuinely know about, writing a blog post answering the question, and sharing it like mad through your social media channels.
Types of Content
This brings us to what content is, or rather, what it can take the form of. Here's a quick, and by no means exhaustive, list of content types:
- Blog posts (what you are reading right now is content marketing!)
- Free online tools
Seems intimidating, doesn't it? That's a lot of types of content to push out! But the good news is that you don't have to do all of it, at least not at the same time anyway. Take a look at your business and your audience and work out what kind of content they want. Forget about what you want to get out of it for a moment and put yourself in your typical customer's position.
What would entertain them?
What would they share with their friends?
What would help them?
After asking yourself these questions you might find yourself plumping for a funny photo of one of your staff members with his new kitten (this is the Internet, remember, and cats still have ultimate dominion over all). However, you're just as likely to decide that what your audience wants is an e-book all about the best way to grow and care for rhododendrons or an infographic about the types of wedding cakes favoured by your customers over the last year.
It's worth pointing out here that content marketing is not the same as advertising. Where advertising is the process of delivering a one-way message directly to the customer in the hope that they'll purchase a product or service, content marketing serves to encourage engagement from your audience and involve them on a different level that should stay with them longer and hopefully be shared widely in a way advertising very rarely is.
Content and Social Media
It's all very well putting together incredible, sharable, entertaining and useful content for your audience but I cannot stress enough how important it is to get onto social media and post everything you create multiple times on a variety of channels. Once just ain't enough. You've got more chance of getting that crucial retweet of your content from an influential Twitter follower by tweeting it and tweeting it and tweeting it. However, everything's great in moderation, so try not to go overboard. I'd recommend avoiding posting the same content in the same way more than once every couple of hours.
The state of social media right now is that there is a perfect outlet for each content format in the above bullet list, and you should try to share each piece of content through each available social media channel. For example, although you should aim to make images for Pinterest and Instagram, make sure you share them through Facebook and Twitter too.
A good rule of thumb is that however long you spend creating a piece of content, you should spend at least the same amount of time sharing it on social media. I mean, why would you prepare an amazing night of entertainment and only send out two or three invitations?
We hope the above has given those of you without a clue about content something to chew on. For some inspiration, check out Linkdex's smartercontent.org forum, in which marketing professionals post links to examples of big companies doing clever content well.
We appreciate that we can't all afford to send a man into space and make him jump back to Earth, so we'll be back soon to talk about how you too could create useful content on a budget.
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