Effective content marketing requires an atlas to help you navigate the stormy digital space so you can not only get your message across, but get it to the people who need it most.
1. Know the message. What is your brand message? Learn it inside and out. Ask lots of questions, even stupid ones. Scratch that -- especially stupid ones.
Use the answers to fine-tune the message for your audience’s consumption. Pretend for a minute that you make sailboats and you want to figure out how to get people to buy your vessels. What do you say? At first glance, you might think the message to the consumer is “Buy my sailboat,” but let’s use more finesse. Instead, content you create could say “My sailboats have value to you because…” or “Did you know my sailboats are superior to their competitors?”
2. Make it count. After you’ve gotten to know your message and committed to it, it’s natural to think that everyone wants to hear about it, but you need to be targeted in your approach.
How do you do this? Channel your inner investigative journalist and start seeking facts. Look at who your competitors are talking to and how they speak to them. Is it working? Look at the data. If you don’t have any to look at, collect your own. Conduct a survey. Perform man-on-the-street interviews. Learn as much as you can about your audience. You may have the best message in the world, but if the person who finds your bottle at sea speaks Portuguese, then it’s lost on them.
3. Delivery is everything. Once you’ve identified your audience and determined that you’re speaking to the right one, start thinking about how you want them to use your message.
As direct as it would be to push out a blog post that details the benefits of your product or the superiority of your service, maybe your audience comprised of snarky Millennials would rather consume a BuzzFeed-style photo gallery highlighting handy offbeat uses for your product.
4. Pick the right platform. Next, decide where to put your content. If you’re trying to get your message out to sea, throwing it into a canyon isn’t going to accomplish that. Again, this is why it’s so important to have an understanding of your consumers’ habits. They’re on Facebook, you say? Really? So are one billion other people. What are they doing there? Are they lurking in the shadows where they can keep tabs on ex-boyfriends, or are they asking their friends for recommendations about local restaurants? In short, are they using social media to be social? If they are, and that’s part of your objective, great! You have found yourself a winning place to put your message. If not, keep looking. Just because there seems to be a large group of people on one particular platform doesn’t mean they want to hear from you.
5. Pushing further. Tailoring your message to the right audience ensures that you’re providing customers with useful content. But what if you’re looking to extend your reach even further?
First off, did you use keywords effectively? How about hashtags?
Use a handful of appropriate keywords — again, ensuring they’re words your audience actually uses — and a few tastefully placed hashed tags. If you’re publishing content to Instagram, you can flirt with a few more hashtags, but keep it classy.
6. Optimize your efforts. You’ve published your message on the correct platform. People are finding it and using it effectively. Throw yourself a party! Right?
Not so fast.
Your work is never done. Take a look at the numbers. Does your content receive more engagement on Thursdays and Fridays when the sailing community is looking ahead to their weekend adventures on the high seas? Have your audience’s tastes changed? Are they migrating toward a new platform? Optimize. Evolve your efforts. That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. If you’re using your atlas to create great content, you’ve definitely got something to be proud of.