Content marketing, by definition, is the use of ‘content’ to achieve marketing objectives. In order for it to be successful the content created should not look or feel like marketing or an advertisement. The content should deliver enough value to the reader so that he/she disregards the fact that the content was created for marketing purposes. To achieve this, engaging content must possess the following fifteen characteristics:
- Useful: Useful and informative content is appreciated by audiences and establishes the individual and/or organisation as the authority in its industry. The greater the value added to the reader, the higher the likelihood that individual will progress down the sales funnel. A good example of this is a fashion magazine who writes blog articles relevant to its industry and audience such as the ‘current trends in fashion’ or ‘unique haute-couture designs worn on the red carpet’.
- Human: Personal blog posts should appeal to people’s emotions and convey the content creator’s emotions. People relate best to other people, so incorporating humanistic elements is recommended. Emotive posts are also more likely to be ‘liked’, ‘shared’, or ‘retweeted’ than posts low in emotional value. Try to engage and inspire your followers with emotions such as joy, surprise, and humour to provoke laughter, and smiles. Negative emotion is almost always poor received by an audience so try to think of a feel-good story, include motivational quotes, or attach a ridiculously funny photo; you’re guaranteed to receive higher levels of engagement!
- Consistent: Social media marketers must deliver consistent content with consistent frequency, conveying the same language, voice and imagery. The audience learns what to expect from the organisation and retains interest for that reason. The result is a more engaged base of fans/followers. An organisation who infrequently posts, or adopts an ever-changing tone of voice, is unlikely to attract or maintain interest from a particular target audience.
- Diversified: Consistency must also be balanced with the need for variety and retaining interest of the audience. Different content formats (such as how to guides, opinion pieces, customer testimonials, personal stories, etc.) provide a useful way to keep customers interested and engaged with the content.
- Influential: Promoting other brands and/or people is likely to result in a reciprocal promotion by the receiver, accelerating growth in followers/fans. These influencers may be bloggers, web-celebs, podcasters, journalists, and so on. Usually, they all have a sizeable following and notable credibility thereby making them a target with whom to work, team up, and interact. When dealing with influencers it is important to build genuine relationships with them over time; add value, shine the spotlight on them – it’s not just about using them to push your brand, products and services or to obtain some of their followers.
- Entertaining: Creation of entertaining content can be challenging and time consuming, however offers substantial rewards for the brand if done correctly. Entertaining blog posts are the most likely to go viral.
- Topical: Relevant ‘topical’ content can receive a large degree of social media activity and engagement, however it should always be aligned with the brand identity to ensure it is well received by the organisation’s network.
- Timely: Content should be delivered to the audience at the appropriate time. A well written, high quality article on a particular topic is unlikely to gain traction if delivered months after that topic has stop being discussed on social media.
- Evergreen: Where possible, content should be ‘evergreen’, meaning that the content does not date as time passes. For example, a free download on the ‘top 5 lowest interest rate credit cards’ will be out of date within months, whereas content on the ‘top 5 ways to manage your finances and reduce credit card debt’ will be relevant for years to come.
- Eye Catching: The quality of the written content is irrelevant unless readers click on the article. Selecting an eye-catching headline will often determine the success or failure of a blog post, however it does need to maintain consistency with the content itself. If the content is significantly different to its headline and people feel deceived, the blog post will be abandoned and the reader is unlikely to read future posts.
- Promotional: Content can contain promotions of products and services, however the organisation must carefully gauge the frequency with which this type of content is posted.
- Visual: Content should stand out from other online content and include features, which attract the attention of the viewer. The general rule of thumb is that images generate more interest than text.
- Actionable: A successful content marketing strategy will increase traffic to the blog content post. A call to action should be prevalent at the completion of the article such as a free download or newsletter sign up.
- Engaging: While engagement is not necessarily the end goal, content should stimulate social interactions and generate one-on-one conversations with audience members.
- Shareable: The final and most important characteristic of content is its ‘shareability’, that is, the extent to which a person feels compelled to share the content with their own networks. Shareable content will generate the most awareness for the authoring brand and most likely drive rapid growth in its own network.
Ensuring that these characteristics are included in your content, will guarantee high audience and follower engagement. To learn more about writing engaging content or to discover how to achieve social media success for your business, contact Social Media College today.