This is part three in the Forté blog series on Content Marketing. In this installment, Bill Pemberton makes the case that—no matter how relevant your content is—it’s of no value to those who don’t know it exists. The good news is that there are several high-impact and low- cost channels to merchandise your content in very attractive ways—without seeming pushy or pre-empting your actual content “bank.”
In my last post, I championed the need to create lots of compelling online content to attract your prospect through their driving need to learn. That is imperative—but not enough. Here’s why.
Your content bank is largely a passive reservoir of current, highly relevant information, replete with plenty of dynamic, multi-media catnip. But you can’t just push dozens of pages of content on anyone—they have to come and “info graze” as their time permits. Content marketing offers a relaxed “parlor” to learn specialized information—ultimately leading to: one, a conversation, and then to the first of (hopefully) many transactions.
By contrast, your content “merchandising” program should be vigorous, regular, and actively engage those with whom you would like to share your content. Of course, it requires a studied approach.
For starters, you should reference your content in traditional media as appropriate; press releases, advertising, direct mail and top tier web pages on your marketing web site. Never fail to include a link or two. But the workhorse for content evangelism will be the digital channels of email and social media
Email delivery can take the form of automated emails to your user base, perhaps with an e-newsletter approach to alerting readers to new content with direct links to selected content. Pick your schedule. However, using social media requires that you have someone with the skills to share your content sizzle in short bursts—a short paragraph on Facebook or 140 characters on Twitter—on a very regular basis. These content “alerts” need to be made at least every other day, if not daily (but no more than once per day.)
Social media audiences prefer reading your original content over shared content, so avoid inserting links to content found at other sites—rather, send your “friends” and “fans” to your own website, even if it’s to see information you’ve aggregated from other websites. It’s also important to include visual elements—graphs, artwork, photos or video frames as often as you can—as this improves engagement rates with your content. Obviously, it’s vital to also put the link to your content directly into your tweets, Facebook posts, etc.
Since space and numbers of characters are a major limitation with social media, I recommend that you always compress your links to the shortest possible length before embedding in your post or tweet. You can do this easily at websites such as bitly.com or tinyurl.com, and while you’re there you can also get some great instructions on leveraging links in your social media to attract new readers and viewers.
Still, building a follower and fan base can take a while, and you often attract folks outside of your core audiences. But there are ways to proactively hit your targets. Both Facebook and Twitter can direct your content toward certain interest groups by using their #hashtag –but don’t use more than two per update.
Facebook also lets you purchase select geographic areas, allowing you to include content in the news feeds of Facebook users in that selected area. This is ideal for local community outreach for senior living communities, as your updates come right into their new feed and appear as editorial content.
For content marketing at the corporate level, say, to connect with potential investors or other strategic partners, LinkedIn should be your channel of choice. LinkedIn is used mainly by business people wanting to literally “connect” and network with other business people. You can post key content updates and links directly into special interest groups, whether it’s one you start or an already existing group.
If you do it all correctly, you should see an increase in traffic to your online content, and be able to track it back directly to your content merchandising program. You should also see a rise in your Klout score, a social media presence rating that can be tracked by setting up an account at klout.com. As an added benefit, all of this social media activity will boost your overall search ranking as well—if a proper keyword strategy is in place.
Being a content evangelist is a key role at any organization, and the elements of any good evangelist make for success; know the message, know your audience and never stop sharing enthusiastically!
Take a minute to review this overview of Klout as offered by the Wall St. Journal.
It addresses the value of both personal and business Klout scores.