Hubspot spread the word that there are now more companies blogging
than there are companies not
blogging. And as I look at the strategy documents we’ve been creating for clients this summer that definitely seems to be the case.
Clients are looking for that blog consulting component as part of their SEO audit or larger link building services. Whether it’s the effect of Panda, Google+ or simply a more competitive market, businesses are looking toward new content as the key in helping them to build a brand, to foster a flowing conversation and, of course, to demonstrate their authority on a particular topic.
But no one said fresh content had to be a 900-word blog post or another badly crafted infographic.
When coming up with this month’s editorial calendar or putting together your content creation goals, why not consider some additional content types? Content that will help you better attract your audience by rescuing them from the same chicken and rice they ate last night and giving them something tastier to consume.
Below are 12 new content flavors to help you attract your audience.
Incorporating video into your content marketing strategy helps you to educate, entertain and inspire your audience with more personality than many of us can evoke through words. Because you’re not hiding behind WordPress, you give your audience the chance to see you, hear the tone of your voice and create a more intimate relationship with you than through a traditional blog post. Adding video around product pages can even help increase sales by up to 30 percent.
Over the years, SEOmoz has done a great job with its Whiteboard Fridays. It posts a video each week digging into a certain aspect of SEO with a more personal touch. We not only get the information, but we get to learn about the talented members of the SEOmoz team.
If authority and brand recognition are what you’re after, then webinars are a good way to achieve that with an interactive flair. It doesn’t take much more than the GoToMeeting software to get you up and running and offering live educational seminars from the convenience of your office or couch. Webinars have become increasingly popular of late, because marketers can use them to build their email list or attach a product offer, bringing in another revenue stream.
One company that’s rocking the marketing webinars is Hubspot. They’re constantly offering their community fresh tips via a live format. It helps turn your content into an event, not just a blog post.
3. Long-form content
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, I challenge you to go through your archives and see what you’ve put out. You probably have 10 blog posts on different aspects of the same topic. For example, a longstanding photography blog is sure to have posts on:
- How to set up the perfect shot
- The best editing software
- How to take advantage of Creative Commons
- How to use Flickr to get links to your site
By reworking that content a bit and putting it together, you now have a photography eBook or guide that a user can download as a PDF. It goes from becoming a blog post lost in your archives to a cohesive piece of content marketing that your audience can not only use as a reference but also share.
The nice folks over at Radian6 are experts at this, putting out a monthly eBook on a new social media-related topic. Each digs deeper into a particular topic than a single blog post could and attracts more users.
4. Q&A content
Not all the content you create is going to sit on your website. Part of fishing where the fish are and reaching people how they want to be reached means getting off of your island. One of the ways I like to do this is by participating in Q&A forums like LinkedIn Answers, Quora or niche-specific sites. By participating you’re able to show off your brand’s skill set and expertise, while forming relationships with people who could become customers and media contacts looking to gain insight on that particular area.
5. Case studies
Instead of writing another how-to post on the best ways to set up your Facebook page or gain Twitter followers, create a case study of how you’ve done it for yourself. This is the content that your audience most wants to see, because it not only provides valuable tips they can apply to their own business, it also shows you know what you’re talking about.
6. White papers
According to Google, a white paper is an authoritative report giving information or proposals on an issue. Said more simply, it’s a guide with a slightly more pretentious name that consumers eat up. And they can be fantastic marketing tools.
As an example, the folks at SEOptomise offer a great Business Guide for Blogging to their audience.
When you feel like you’ve written all that you can write, say it instead. Podcasting enables you to present information in an oral conversation between either you and your audience or you and a feature guest. One benefit of using podcasts in your content marketing strategy is how portable the medium is. Users aren’t tied to their desktop or even their cell phone scrolling through your words. All they have to do is download your podcast on their way out and then listen to it wherever they want—on their car stereo or iPod.
One of my favorite marketing podcasts was SEM Synergy, from our friends at Bruce Clay. Many of us were sad when the show went on hiatus, but now that Virginia Nussey is back where she belongs, look for it to start up again.
8. Online and offline events
If the content well is getting a little dry helping you attract people, why not throw a party? Whether it’s an online Twitter party or an offline event in store, hitting the streets and interacting with people one on one can help bring back the lovin’ feeling that is gone, gone, gone from your blog. And if it’s an offline event, you’ll soon have new images or videos to post on your blog as content. One stone, many birds.
Did you speak at your local Chamber of Commerce last month? Or host a meet-up where you gave a small talk? Did you keynote a major industry conference where thousands of people attended? If you said yes to any of the following, post your presentation slides and let your audience relive the experience from home. Let them know what the subject was, whom you spoke with, and how great the experience was, and then share your slides.
You don’t even have to share the entire presentation (if you’re bashful); pick out some main points and share them.
10. Apps & tools
I haven’t seen a great example of a business using apps to help with its content marketing, but I have to think there’s a way. I watch @NikeGetFit taunt me with good information. The 2011 Women’s World Cup just ended, in thrilling fashion. Where was the app to offer me scores and tell me about the players, their workouts, their fitness routines, and how I can be the next Hope Solo? Nike’s not a sponsor of the World Cup, but Adidas is. Where’s that tie-in? Maybe there is one, but if so, I haven’t found it.
11. Blog with Google+
This is another one I’m not totally familiar with yet, but Chris Brogan is already all over it. You know what they say—DWBD (Do What Brogan Does).
I don’t love writing corporate newsletters, but I do enjoy reading them. Newsletters are still an effective way to engage your audience, because you’re able to hit them where they’re more apt to trust—in their inbox.
For example, I read the Problogger e-newsletter every morning. Sure, I subscribe to the blog and I may see the content that way, but I don’t really read it until it comes to my inbox. That’s just how I prefer to experience it. And depending their likes/dislikes/quirks, your audience may follow a similar pattern.
Those are just 12 different content flavors you can use to attract your audience. Stop limiting yourself by thinking there’s only one. The trick is to develop a content strategy that incorporates a number of different flavors and highlight the ones that work best for your audience.
A version of this story first appeared on Ragan.com.