November 14th, 2012
by Zach Burton
As more and more commerce, thought leadership and information exchange occurs digitally, your brand is in danger of being lost in communicative cacophony. In order to plant your flag in the digital marketplace, your message must be crafted to compete with the surrounding noise.
In this blog post, we will examine five best practices that will help you grab your audience and create loyal readers – and customers.
Know Your Channels
No, I’m not talking about remembering that Saved by the Bell re-runs are on 42 while Breaking Bad is on 73. Marketers need to recognize that different kinds of content can and should be created for specific channels. Knowing the different channels used by your readership can help you craft the perfect message. Are they on Facebook? Do they prefer to interact with you on Twitter? Spend time analyzing what content gets shared, liked or bookmarked – and from what sources. As Rebecca Lieb notes in her guide to content marketing, all channels are tools. Maybe your brand doesn’t need a Twitter account. Use channels because there is a documented reason, not just because they are there.
Don’t Write Just to Sell Stuff
As Guy Kawasaki notes in his analysis of the Apple Store’s success, the minute you begin focusing solely on selling something, you become less likely to move your product – and you miss the point of creating content. Great content should not be created simply to move a product, it should add value to someone’s search for solutions, and enrich their life in some small – or even big – way. Answer questions, interact with your readership and never forget that if your content isn’t useful, then it’s a waste of time and money.
Use Powerful Language
Once you develop a content strategy that isn’t solely focused on selling stuff, you need to engage the audience. If you want your content to be powerful, the language you use should be powerful too. There are some basic rules you can follow to achieve this. For instance, avoid empty adjectives (such as “nice” or “sweet”), polite language (such as the use of “please” and “thank you”) and hedges (modifiers such as “like” or “kind of”).
Indeed, Burrell and Koper studied the correlation between powerful language and persuasion and found that powerful language “is not only more persuasive, but also more credible than powerless language”. They also went on to note that persuaders should “use powerless language with great discretion/caution.”
Interact With Your Audience
If you really want to engage your audience, treat them like business partners. Create content that they can interact with, share, and even disagree with. This can be as aggressive as soliciting blog posts, videos or on-page content from consumers. Or it could be as simple as making sure content you create is shareable and able to be commented on by asking the reader to weigh in on the subject. But, make sure your interaction is legitimate and not in any way trying to game the system. For instance, some businesses experienced severe e-commerce heartburn when Yelp recently began cracking down on companies caught “red-handed trying to buy reviews” for products and services.
Help Them Visualize
Interacting with your audience isn’t always achieved through a well-written blog post, a concise tweet or a witty Facebook comment. Sometimes the most persuasive content lets the audience actually see what value you can add to their businesses or lives. Videos and photographs can be used to enhance the written word, or serve to demonstrate value as stand-alone pieces of content. And don’t worry about investing huge amounts of money in high-tech polish. Huge brands such as Starbucks have adopted user-generated platforms such as Instagram to visually connect with consumers.
As more and more people turn to the digital marketplace to satisfy their demands, your brand needs to compete for their attention. These five, common-sense approaches to content marketing can help you rise above competitors and gain loyal followers.
But I’m sure I’ve left out other great methods! What strategies do you employ to engage your audience?
Editor – Owned Media at Slingshot SEO, Zach Burton is an Editor – Owned Media at Slingshot SEO.