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Think Like a Newsroom: 4 Tips For Creating Content That Counts

When it comes to building brand and audience, publishers have worn marketing hats for a while. Today marketers must become publishers too, and engage customers online with timely, relevant content.
 
“Content marketing” may be an industry buzz phrase, but the truth is, many traditional marketers are lost when it comes to how to get started. Here are  characteristics to keep in mind to generate content with real impact:
 
1) Trendspotting
 
News media have historically owned breaking news, but nowadays, virtually anyone can pile on to a meme fast enough to make that story their own.
 
Staying on top of “right now” is critical to creating content that gets noticed. Sure, you may already understand the overall consumption habits of your target consumer, but outside of the popular zeitgeist, which trends, cultural memes or products dazzle them most? Social media monitoring and acting quickly upon that data is essential.
 
2) Data, data data
 
Data powers all intelligent marketing, including content strategy. It’s not dissimilar to traditional ad creative or copy — you wouldn’t put something out into the wild, blindly crossing your fingers. Like marketers, publishers make use of real-time data to optimize everything from page layout to headlines, driving the most engagement possible and giving audiences reason to stay on their site.
 
Content must be powered by the same intelligence. For example, marketers should develop multiple headlines for the same blog post, article or video; then conduct A/B tests to gauge impact. Capturing post-click data, such as time-on-site, is critical for ensuring you don’t inadvertently bait-and-switch your readers. Cross-channel analytics are key, depending on the platform and context, copy, format, even the overall topic area could require anything from a minor tweak to a major revamp.
 
3) Go Beyond the Click
 
CTR has a bad rap as the measurement model for display, given it is not a direct response vehicle. Content marketing is different. From a consumer intent perspective, a click on a link to a sponsored story or video is more analogous to clicking on a search ad than it is a banner. There is clear intent to access more information on the other side of that click. In fact, 76% of adults indicate they have clicked on links to related stories to continue reading about a topic in the last three months. In this context, clicks become more meaningful.
 
The “share-worthiness” of content is the ultimate test of your content’s value. Tracking shares, comments and likes across platforms is key. For any owned media youpromote, zero in on post-click metrics, such as time on site and page views.
 
4) Avoid the Kardashian Syndrome
 
To succeed at a content strategy, marketers can’t view content as a “campaign” that needs to “perform.” Content is your product; it must bring value to your audience.
 
Many marketers fall victim to traditional ROI analysis mentality. Finding their content lacks the sex appeal required to aggressively compete in the attention marketplace. They come down with a horrid case of the “Kardashian syndrome,” which, in the digital media world, means sinking to the lowest common denominator to generate clicks, resorting to tricks to juice perceived “performance” of a certain piece of content. Don’t do it.
 
Your content is an entry point for the consumer — a chance for them to form initial opinions around who you are and what you stand for. Sure, you’ve got to sell — newsrooms do, too — but at the end of the day, there’s a big difference between The New York Times and Star.
 
Creating amazing content — at scale — is anything but easy. Investment is key, and a zealous commitment to quality a must. The payoff is getting your customers to look to your brand as a credible, consistent source of knowledge or entertainment -- something newsrooms have done amazingly well for decades.

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