Let’s face it: “content” is dirty word in many corners of the internet. At best content marketing is misunderstood by clients, and at worst it’s the illegitimate lovechild of black-hat SEO “ninjas” and “social media experts”. Maybe that’s why so few marketers want to talk about their content strategy and inbound marketing efforts.
But content marketing is no secret, even if it’s misunderstood by so many people. Perhaps that’s because “content” is such an all-encompasing term, covering everything from blog posts and social media updates to presentation decks and infographics and much more, that content marketing remains vague to many of our clients. And because our clients have different business goals and audience opportunities, it seems unlikely we’ll ever come up with a better term to describe all the media tactics we can pursue to help build businesses using content marketing strategies.
So to help demystify content marketing, I’d like to share some strategies for one of the most common problems my clients run into: updating a blog and maintaining a content calendar. Even the most experienced copywriters and content marketers run out of fresh blogging ideas every once in awhile, so here’s a few common blog post types that can help you get the blog back on schedule:
- Primers: the 101s and the 5Ws
These are the low-hanging fruit of blog posts, and there is no better way to establish your business (B2B and B2C included) as the go-to source for customers and clients than writing these simple blog posts which help answer their basic questions (i.e. 5Ws). Some of the best blogs start out by writing these overviews, which can easily be identified during the keyword research process by looking at the questions (5Ws) your customers are searching for on Google.
- Top 10s and Listicles
Ranked or unranked, people love lists! They make it easy for readers to skim blog posts for new ideas and can be quite entertaining when written well. Lists can also be handy resources for your audience in making decisions, even when the list includes your products or services. For a good example, see this blog post!
In a DIY world where your solution is just a Google search away, How-To blog posts are an easy way to connect with any audience who can use your product/services to help solve their problems. Simply break down a complicated process into it’s component steps, writing in detail about each step and including strong visuals (photos/videos/graphics) whenever possible, and your blog becomes a helpful resource that builds a positive relationship with your client or consumer.
- Holidays & Seasonal trends
Another no brainer for blog posts, and an easy one to use in building your content calendar around earned media opportunities. Consumer facing blogs have had great success writing gift guides and promoting seasonal sales (Back to School? Black Friday/Cyber Monday?). Likewise B2C companies can write about seasonal patterns and industry trends, ideally sharing information and experiences from your own business, which can help generate significant PR opportunities.
- Interviews & Guest Posts
Many blogs overlook their biggest resource of expertise: their own employees. Even a short Q&A with your organization’s leaders or outstanding employees can be very informative and helpful in telling your company’s story while demonstrating your expertise. Similarly, offering your blog as a platform for clients and other industry experts is a great way to promote your blog as a worthwhile source of information, while creating co-branding and cross-promotional opportunities that will help expand your blog’s audience.
- Thought Leadership/Industry Trend pieces
By this point you’ve noticed a consistent goal in these tactics: to develop your blog into a trusted resource for novices and experts alike. Take your blogging to the next level by writing larger think-pieces that go beyond your product/services to illustrate the big-picture trends in your industry, preferably in op-eds that come from your businesses leaders. When done well these posts can help sway decision makers and influencers to look towards your business/brand as industry leaders, and reflect the best thinking going into your business without even having to explicitly sell them on your products or services.
- Content Curation & User-Generated Contests
Leverage your existing social media efforts by asking your audience to help come up with ideas that promote your product in their own network, and reward them by showcasing the best user-generated results on your blog (leading them to share your posts again)! Even this post was inspired by a user-generated meme promoting a movie, showing that there is no shortage of creative potential unleashed when your give your audience the tools to help tell your business’ story.https://www.flickr.com/photos/skewgee/6090402793/in/photolist-bMPkzr-bMPkmr-aD94hz-agrXdm-afy5kq-dVHqjJ-dmpbvA-9CScgB-bSWqYR-byUEoj-bMPjRa-byUDvS-bMPj9X-axapLJ-ahbUyH-ahbUnR-aheGom-aheFdj-aheFHy-aheE4o-ahbSKg-ahbVGn-a5XHnC-9Hn9uA-96ANQm-87iq2s-5PigdF-6bu3Wc-4tFWTR-2hcdU9-TwABd-6YeoRg-6XMx3K
Best practices: Building a blog can be a hub for all of your content marketing efforts, providing a home base that unifies your efforts in search and social channels. No matter what tactics you employ try to maintain consistent updates – daily, 2-3 posts per week, or weekly – into your content calendar building an audience by giving them a reason to return to your website, thusly maximizing the potential of your owned and earned media strategy. Do your research on what kinds of content your audience looks for, using keyword tools and scouring social media discussion, so that you can help answer their questions and provide solutions to their problems. The key is to always be helpful and add value through your content marketing efforts, regardless of the channel, and your blog is just another platform to help creatively address your audience’s needs in depth.
Of course these examples are just a few ideas for blog posts, and depending on your client’s needs there may be additional opportunities to generate content on platforms which may more relevant and better received by your target audience. The better you research your audience the more easily content marketing ideas will come up. As you build your blog pay careful attention to which posts engage and resonate most with your audience to best identify the strategies you can replicate successfully. And if you ever run out of ideas for your business’ blog, or just not the results you were hoping for, you can always hire a content marketer and copywriter like myself to help you get the blog rolling along!