We’re living in an age awash with content. There’s tons of it out there. Some good, a lot of it quite poor.
This is bad news for businesses, in particular start-ups. In this digital age they have to get their content before potential customers. And beyond just being seen, businesses want to engage potential customers and sell products or services.
We turn to Ivana Taylor, Small Business Influencer with DIY Marketers, for solutions. If your goal is to produce winning content and be found by the right people, here are some actionable tips.
Ivana, in a recent post one of your writers defined something called content inflation. What is it and what kinds of problems is it causing for marketers and businesses, especially start-ups?
Content inflation, or a content bubble, comes from the world of economics. It’s this idea that the rate at which content is growing ultimately devalues the content. The “bubble” component of this phenomenon is the idea that this rate of growth is unsustainable and once we hit that point of unsustainability – it will massively decrease in value.
There are more than 200 million bits of content being created every minute! This is simply inconsumable by the average person.
The problem this creates for all of us; marketers and consumers alike, is that we have to pick and choose only the best, most relevant content which most closely helps us accomplish our goals.
A lot of content creators and marketing strategists don’t talk about content inflation. But it is, so to speak, the elephant in the room. Why aren’t marketers talking about it more openly? Are there opportunities to develop solutions? After all, it’s affecting them just as much as it their clients.
Like any economic bubble, we get caught up in the hamster wheel. Marketers aren’t talking about it because there’s really no time to stop and think about it or talk about it. If you stop creating content, then competing content will get more visibility. So, you create more content.
We all know that killer content is better than mediocre content, but like anything of value, creating truly useful pieces takes time; research, writing, design, publishing, sharing, etc.
I can tell you that simply taking an already edited article and getting it ready for publication and promotion on DIYMarketers.com takes well over an hour. That doesn’t include the hours it takes to put an article together.
It just takes a few folks to put the brakes on and dedicate themselves to “slow content” to make the shift happen. For example, instead of my writing three mediocre, shallow articles each week, I’ve decided to write two thoughtful articles each month. Besides, my brand promise is to SIMPLIFY marketing – not overwhelm my audience. So this is a good place to start.
Content inflation: How did we get here?
What things have contributed to content inflation?
Personally, I think that technology is evolving faster than we, as content creators, can keep up. There was a time where your web site was rewarded for publishing as frequently as possible, and there were people who were very successful with that. So then others started doing the same thing. The next thing you know, people are afraid to STOP creating content.
Add to that, the constant proliferation and evolution of platforms. LinkedIn has recently had a redesign that matches Facebook because they want to sell advertising and increase engagement. LinkedIn has also added its own syndicated article contribution platform, Pulse, that matches that of Medium. Let’s not forget Slideshare, SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Facebook Live, YouTube – should I keep going?
Steps to getting your content seen
What process should a business go through to understand the types of content it should be producing? How can it determine what will interest its potential customers?
There are a three core elements to understanding what type of content to produce.
- Your audience is the first core element
- Your message or contribution to this audience is the second component
- Finally, your tilt, or the point of view, that you bring to the content.
Too many businesses don’t take the time to think these three things through. It’s worth taking as much time as you need.
Once you have an idea of your audience and point of view, you can start creating content. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Give yourself the time and space to practice, watch your analytics, see what resonates with your audience and then tweak your content accordingly.
And once a business has determined its content, what are the first steps a business should take to get its content in front of relevant eyes?
You have to know where your customers are, what are they reading, where do they spend their time.
- The first place a business can go to share their content is directly to their existing customers, followers and audience.
- To do this begin by posting at least 30 articles to your blog (assuming you have nothing). If you already have some blog posts, select five to seven pieces of content that would be useful to several different segments of your audience.
- With your email list, send an email to your customers that’s something like a blog article. For example: Seven ways to be more productive. Then feature each of your articles with a single sentence summary.
- Next, research is important. Find out where your customers are, what they are reading, and where they spend there time, and work to get your content before their eyes. Facebook is obviously a major platform, so consider setting up a group, page, or using it to advertise
Another great way to get your content out there is to partner with vendors or publications in your industry where you can offer expert advice and ask to be a recurring contributor. Send an article every month and that will expose you to a new audience.
Finally, don’t forget syndicated platforms like LinkedIn, Medium and Quora — you can take your existing articles and simply paste them up on these platforms — or change them up a little bit and post them there. This will extend your reach to new audiences.
The right kind of marketing
A business owner with little or no knowledge about marketing may happily be led by current trends. More generally what’s the best way to figure out what kind of marketing is right for your business?
I always like to say that marketing is about who you are BEING more than what you are DOING. Just look at how many successful businesses there are where the owner doesn’t “know anything about marketing”.
When you take a closer look, you’ll notice that their success stems from an outstanding customer experience. When you look behind the customer experience, you’ll notice that the owner has translated their core values and beliefs into systems that deliver that experience. All of this is a form of marketing.
Marketing isn’t just about promotions and social media posts — those are nothing more than vehicles that deliver who you are as a business and what you stand for to your audience.
The best marketing is being clear on who you are as a brand (what is your promise), who your ideal customer is and then delivering on what’s important to them when they are buying what you are selling. The rest is just sharing it on the channels you are most comfortable with.
Overwhelmed with social media?
Social media is a great way to start to get eyes on your content. But business owners can feel compelled to leverage every single platform. With that, they can feel overwhelmed and not manage their channels very well. What’s the best way for a business to begin with social media? How can they identify the best channels and leverage those channels for its new business?
The first step is knowing where your ideal customers are spending the most time. The next step is figuring out where YOU feel comfortable.
The easiest way to figure out where your customers are is to simply ASK. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Simply decide that during the next 30 days you’re going to find out where your customer spends their time on social media.
Whether you ask them or your team asks them. Make it a priority. Give them a single question to ask every customer either in an email or in conversation.
“On what social media platform do you spend most of your time?” or “What’s your favorite social media platform?”
You can stop there or you can have a whole conversation about it — how much time do you spend there? What kind of content do you find yourself reading the most? What kind of content do you wish was there but you don’t see a lot of?
We’re in an age where video is overwhelmingly seen as the number one medium. Is this something that applies across the board? Should all businesses be investing in video?
Video is a critical component of any businesses marketing. Your audience loves it. But if you’re like me and don’t like to see yourself on video – don’t worry. There are many ways of using video without appearing in video.
- How-to videos with screencasts
- Voice over a PowerPoint presentation
- Create a montage of graphics with text
- Interview experts and customers
Aim for content quality
So many businesses produce their own content and it’s pretty awful stuff. In various communities I belong to, I’m often asked to look at content produced by talented and successful business people who are are not great at producing videos, writing or designing. Looking at the bottom line, Ivana, what impact is this material having on a businesses’ content marketing efforts?
There is SO MUCH content out there that even good content isn’t being seen. You simply cannot afford to spend your valuable time and energy that way. Rather than churn out mediocre content, visit sites like BuzzSumo.com and type in your topic or keyword.
Then look at the articles that got the most shares. Take the time to read that article and make notes on what that writer did that was effective. Then ask yourself: “What’s missing from this content that would make it better?”, or think about how you could expand the content or take another viewpoint.
Write that article, reference influencers, quote from their articles and then notify them that you’ve quoted them. Take it one step further are actually write out the social post you’d like them to share with their community so that all they have to do is cut, paste and click. This will make your content easily shareable.
What are some of best ways for businesses to find really good designers, videographers and writers who can work within a budget and create stellar content for that start-up?
You know how the Eskimos have 50 words for snow to describe the different facets of snow that they experience in their environment? The same thing is true for the kinds of content that we experience.
I just referenced ten of the most popular social media platforms. If you add your own web site or blog that makes eleven. Each of those platforms has a culture, an eco-system, a way that successful content is recognized and shared. And each platform requires a very specific writing and design skill set that very few people embody across all platforms.
So, the first thing you must do is focus on a handful of platforms. My advice is to first decide if you prefer long form content (LinkedIn, Facebook), short-form content (Twitter, Instagram) or images (Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat) or video (Facebook Live, YouTube). Decide where your audience is and what content style you prefer.
Your next step is to identify the critical success skills that are required to post on that platform. The best thing to do is look and see what successful people are doing. Don’t just copy them; rather, see what you like, what you don’t like and decide on what YOU will do for your brand.
Then, hit sites like Fiverr.com or UpWork.com and search on specific skills for specific platforms.
Small business marketing expert Ivana Taylor
Ivana Taylor is a publisher and influencer with DIY Marketers. She helps small businesses on a budget simplify marketing with the best tools, tips and strategies. Ivana is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and believes that most businesses should be doing less (but more focused) marketing. You can find Ivana on Linkedin and Twitter.
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