Nothing lasts forever in the digital world, and change seems to come more quickly each year. You don’t necessarily have to stay on the cutting-edge all the time, but if you can’t keep pace, your audience may start to question your brand. “Why haven’t they updated their homepage?” “If this is what they write, can I trust their products?” First impressions can make or break an audience’s opinion of your company. This summer, focus on transitioning to a more fluid, change-friendly content schedule by remembering these tips. Don’t:
- Use the same formatting standards for every post. Within the same audience, readers have individual content preferences. Some enjoy diving into a long-form article that really explores a topic while others prefer to skim through shorter versions to pick out the necessary details. Change your content styles and lengths to appeal to a wider audience. Try posting articles in two forms to boost your appeal. Complete a long-form article as well as a list or brief bullet point outline. Let your audience choose which format to read.
- Rely on an informal, unwritten content strategy. Many businesses are still putting off content strategy creation. The next time you meet to discuss your strategy, put it in writing. Every team member needs access to the big-picture goals, editorial calendars, and post guidelines. Like writing down what you eat in a journal, developing a formal content strategy will improve your follow-through. Use your audience personas, value proposition, current analytics, and customer surveys to set some measurable benchmarks in a written document.
- Forget to take some risks. Avoiding risk is just as risky as taking a risk – that’s a lot of risk! To meet your audience’s needs, you have to demonstrate a willingness to put your brand out there. Try a new social media platform, come up with an out-of-the-box campaign, or film some of your coworkers for a candid video. Do something different every month to keep growing instead of fizzling out. You can’t afford to wait until someone else succeeds. By then, it will be too late.
- Go too digital. Traditional marketing is not dead; it just looks different today. If your company is spending all its time online, you could miss some powerful billboard, marquee, and print opportunities. Use digital, especially mobile, content to drive people to your brand, and then cement that exposure with real world messaging. Content extends from the screen to the page.
- Let content die after an initial upload. Content doesn’t always hit the mark on its first try. That failure does not automatically mean that your content is bad. Create a strategy for every piece of content – how you will keep it updated and when you will take it down. This advice is particularly true for landing page content. Your website is a living space. Make sure your audience has easy access to vital information when they click a link.
In one example of content optimization, a college reduced the number of pages the website held and doubled response rates. Constantly manipulate and update the content you post to serve your needs.
- Write for search engines instead of people. This practice is not so great for two reasons. Search engines no longer reward formulaic writing, and people aren’t interested in engaging with brands that fail to offer more than keyword-dense, basic writing. Use online trends to inform your posts and then write with your audience in mind. Wait to insert keywords until you know you’ve covered the valuable information your target market needs to read.
- Generate tired topics just to upload something. Some topics have hundreds or thousands of search results, but they all say the same thing. If you do choose to write about a topic in a flooded category, look for a unique angle. Avoid writing the same tired listicles and how-to articles, particularly if other companies have done it and done it well. Research the content available on a subject before committing your ideas to the page.
- Charge for every value-add post. If you don’t offer something free, someone else will. Start looking at your content for its long-term benefits. Produce valuable e-books, guides, and non-gated instruction pieces that will help readers identify your business as a thought leader. When your readers need your product or help, your brand’s impression will beat out the competition.
- Use antiquated writing practices. Modern readers are not interested in reading the dry sales copy of the 1990s or stuffy articles filled with 10-letter synonyms for commonly used words. Readers want to read something conversational and relatable. You may not want to use slang, but keep your content fresh according to modern communication standards.
- Forget about the power of user-generated content. Consumers know what other consumers want to read and they aren’t doing it to earn a sale or get a raise. National Geographic’s Wanderlust campaign for Instagram encouraged thousands of users to share their images for a chance to win a trip to Yosemite (@gaylon_wampler won the contest for a photograph of a volcano in Vanuatu). Your user-generated campaign doesn’t have to award a vacation. Look for small ways to include your loyal customers and fans in your content strategy for some authentic brand boosting and free marketing.
- Keep your content budget too small. Content budgets are increasing across the board because online visibility is too important to put on the backburner. Well-crafted content is an investment that will continue to yield returns. Don’t compromise one of your most powerful marketing assets. Get in the game now to stay ahead of the competition.
Marketing should be new and rewarding, not stuffy, antiquated, and dry. Summer is the perfect time to change up your content strategy and gain an edge on your competitors. Have fun with the process and start building a recognizable, engagement-friendly online brand.
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