Today, brands have so many different ways to share their message and build relationships with their audience. The web has encouraged companies to think beyond press releases and ads to deliver content that's genuinely useful, entertaining and interactive.
A successful content marketing strategy uses
quality content to engage people, rather than to blatantly advertise a
product or service. The first priority is engagement - with increased
traffic, more sales and improved SEO occurring naturally as a result of that engagement.
But what does 'content marketing' actually refer to? What do people mean when they say 'web content'?
help break it down, I've put together a list of 20 different types of
content you can create to connect with your audience and share your
brand's message. Here they are:
1. Blog Posts
Blogging regularly is one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged. Plus, it gives you plenty of fresh content to share on social media - helping increase your number of followers and boosting SEO.
2. Research-Based Infographics
While, in many ways, these long, fact-filled infographics are yesterday's news, they can still be effective when done right. Essential to capturing your audience's interest with an infographic are a clever design and genuinely interesting, original research.
3. Non-Research Based Infographics
A hip solution to its duller predecessor, the research-based infographic discussed above, the non-research based infographic shares information without all the numbers, pie charts and statistics. For example, check out this simple guide to types of men's shirts --->
5. Interactive Images
Take an image or infographic and make it interactive by adding additional information (i.e. a fun fact or a link to a related product) for readers to access when they hover over or click on a certain part of the image. You can do this for free over at ThingLink, then embed the interactive image into a related blog post.
Web audiences crave visual content. It doesn't matter how strong your message is - if it's arranged as a large block of text, most people won't read it. Always include a visual element to the content you create. What's better than one image? Several images, arranged in a collage or as a slideshow. You can create embeddable slideshows for free over at Jux, or it's likely that your content management system has a built-in slideshow function.
Get involved with the 'gamification' trend without having to spend a lot of money on web and mobile apps by creating quizzes to engage your audience.
Get involved in the DIY craze popularized on Pinterest by creating image-based tutorials that relate to your brand. Yes, Pinterest is filled with nail art tutorials and how-to hairstyle guides, but you don't have to be in the beauty or fashion business to create a successful tutorial. For example, let's say you run a small accountancy firm. Why not create a simple, step-by-step image tutorial for organizing your file cabinet? Arrange the images into a collage, add your logo to the bottom right corner, set the click-through link as your homepage or blog, and you've done it!
8. PDF Guides
Make your blog posts more interesting, while also creating something downloadable and shareable, by putting together PDF 'How To' or informational guides. Upload the guides to PDF hosting sites like Flipsnack or Issuu, so that they can be easily embedded into a blog post or webpage and read like a virtual book.
While recipes are obviously a great way for restaurants and grocery stores to engage their audience, you don't have to be in the food industry to use this tactic. For example, if you are a healthcare nonprofit that supports kidney research like Northwest Kidney Centers, you could include low-salt recipes on your website. To increase the chances of people sharing your recipes, consider making them into visual tutorials (as described above) that can be uploaded to Pinterest or shared as an image on Facebook. Or, for a simpler solution, simply include an image of the finished product on the webpage/blog post with the recipe and use that image to promote the recipe via social media.
10. Images + Text
This one's as simple as it gets. Take a great photo, find a cool font and write something inspirational across it. A brilliant photo with the perfect words, such as this image created by Fordor's, takes less than an hour to make and can have a major impact on sites like Tumblr and Pinterest.
Essentially moving images (appearing like short video clips), gifs are another very engaging, 'shareable' way to spread your brand's message. For example, what could make you want to drink a can of coke more than watching someone repeatedly open a mini fridge full of them?
Give a your brand a voice by recording a monthly or weekly podcast about your business or your cause. This is a great way for nonprofits in particular to promote their cause by interviewing the people who stand to benefit from increased awareness and donations.
When it works for your brand, start or join a conversation with your followers by creating and sharing an amusing meme. Successful memes are usually 1.) funny and 2.) relevant to something happening right now.
If you're confident in your products and services, let your audience create content for you by allowing them to review your various offerings on your website. Also, when relevant, use your blog as a platform to write your own reviews of books, films or products related to your brand.
16. Email newsletters
Keep your audience updated on new products and special offers (or, if you run a nonprofit, simply the latest news/upcoming events) by sending out an excellent email newsletter on a monthly basis.
You don't have to be an aspiring novelist to write a successful eBook. Offer your audience more in-depth information by creating an eBook that showcases your company's expertise or complements your brand's message. To use the recipe example again, a diabetes research nonprofit could put together an eBook of low-sugar recipes that would be both useful and help raise awareness of their cause.
It's taken a bit of time, but cartoons have definitely made their way to the web. Sites like The Oatmeal offer comics for entertainment and political commentary, but there's no reason why a business or nonprofit couldn't create comics to share their message.
The web has inspired many different kinds of content, but video remains king of them all. There's just something about videos that make us remember a brand or organization. Of course, they still need to be good. For inspiration, take a look at this video made by Metro Trains in Melbourne Australia, which went viral last year.
20. White Papers
Show everyone that you're an authority in the industry with a persuasive white paper on a topic related to your organization. Use a white paper to provide background on a given issue, to propose a solution to an issue or to make a business case for something.
Can you think of any types of content I missed? Let me know your content marketing ideas in the comments.