What is Content and Why Does Your Business Need it?
What is content? When you need to find out something quickly what is the first thing you do? Go to a library, read a newspaper (are they still a thing?), or maybe ask a friend? Or do you, like most of us, simply search Google? The results that Google provides depends entirely on the availability of quality content. That content will either be yours, or that of your competitors.
Why Do We Need to Create Content?
When we start our own blog, YouTube channel, or any vehicle to carry our content we begin to fundamentally alter our relationship with search engines. As businesses we need to always bear in mind that our brand identity is what others think of us, rather than what we wish they thought of us. Another way of looking at it is to imagine being in a roomful of people. While you’re in the room with them you can affect how they see you by (for example) being pleasant, or by being unpleasant. Each will affect their feelings about you. If you leave the room, the people left there will still have opinions about you based on your earlier behaviour.
Taking Charge of Your Brand
You can only affect that opinion if you re-enter the room. Your behaviour then may alter or reinforce their opinions. For a business your brand identity is crucial to winning, retaining, or losing clients. It is vital then to continually act in ways that conform to the brand values that you believe in. The problem is, it’s a big and busy world and you can’t be in every room all the time.
Building an Audience
This is why it is vital to create content that represents your approach and your values. The most effective content acts as your virtual ambassador. Yes, you can use social media to share your nuggets of expertise and short lessons from your experience, but they remain tiny and bite-sized. Bite-sized morsels can only serve to whet the appetites of your readers. You need something more substantial to properly satisfy a readership.
Content that readers can make real use of always stands head-and-shoulders above the great grey mass of content that bombards us on a daily basis. Consistently delivering quality content builds audience loyalty. After all, building an audience can bring enormous benefits to your business.
Content comes in many forms. Let’s take a look at the main types of content available to your small business.
The most obvious and prevalent form of written content is the blog post. Blogs have been around for decades now and it can seem like they are everywhere. Don’t be alarmed, but you’re reading one right now.
According to research, almost 2.75 million posts are published each day on WordPress alone. The actual number of daily blog posts published across all platforms will be even higher. WordPress may be the most popular blogging platform, but it is certainly not the only one. With so much written content being produced daily, the biggest issue we are likely to face is content overload. Readers can often find themselves faced with too many content choices.
When that happens, people use three distinct tactics to cope. Firstly, we allow Google to choose for them and just read what is presented at the top of the page. Secondly, they pick large brands that they recognise and trust (such as Mashable or Huffington Post) and stick to their content. Thirdly, they follow recommendations of friends and colleagues and build up a library of blogs that they try out; the ones they enjoy are added to their personal list of blogs that they return to over time.
One of the key benefits of having a blog on your website is that each post you write adds to a body of work that adds increasing value over time. At Design Inspiration we often hear from new or prospective clients after they have read some of our blog posts online. Sometimes the posts that influence them the most were written years ago. So you never stop benefitting from a well-written blog post.
If you are serious about content marketing, you absolutely need to get serious about your video content. Whilst your written content fuels your SEO efforts with Google, you would be foolish to ignore the second largest search engine on the internet: YouTube. At the same time that Google performs 3.5 billion searches per day globally, YouTube also serves approximately 10 million daily searches. This makes YouTube the second largest search engine on the internet. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, remember that Google’s search engine and YouTube are both owned by the same company. So any optimisation you perform on your blog posts is enhanced by the search optimisation you conduct on your videos.
So to be really effective today, your content creation strategy absolutely must include video. By the same token, both written and video content needs to be optimised for search. We can discuss video search optimisation properly in another post, but for now, here are a few tips.
Firstly, includes key phrases in your video because YouTube definitely does identify them. Secondly, include captions as it helps YouTube identify and classify your content. Thirdly, try to include a search-friendly key phrase in your title. On a separate point, you should pay a lot more attention to the design of your thumbnail image than you expect. That is much more important than you realise, so perhaps I’ll write a whole post about YouTube thumbnail design if you request it.
What are your favourite podcasts right now? The audience sizes of podcasts are on the rise again currently and it’s not a new phenomenon. Podcasting has been around for a surprisingly long time and if you were to draw a graph of their popularity over time it would look like the line on one of those heart monitors they have in TV shows set in a hospital. Up, down, levelling off, then a sudden plunge before the doctor manages to do something dramatic.
In fact, podcasting has its roots in the 1980s and was once known as “audioblogging”, which should tell you why it ought to be considered seriously as part of your content marketing strategy. Beware though, as starting your own podcast should only be done if you intend to continue. Three posts is not a series. If you can’t keep it up, don’t begin. It’s a legitimate strategy to run a limited series if that is your intention from the beginning. Test it out. Record a few before you publish. You’ll soon know if it is for you.
There are many podcasts available, but here’s a link to one from Chris Brogan: Storyleader
Let’s discuss content that has visual appeal. This is distinct from video because visual content does not contain audio. So visual content includes things like infographics, social media graphics, memes and gifs.
A well-rounded content marketing strategy must consider whether to use any or all of these elements.
For formal, corporate communication, infographics can hold enormous appeal. They can quickly convey large amounts of information, which would be extremely dull. A really well designed infographic can carry a surprisingly large amount of data and still keep it organised. It can be particularly appealing to more visually-oriented audiences. Finance experts may be happy looking at tables of data, but if you need to present that data in a way that is more likely to influence consumers, present it in a visually stimulating graphic. Infographics are extremely popular on Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Younger and less formal audiences may prefer their information packaged as memes or even as gifs. The key here is to be as creative as possible in as short a time as possible. Add in a healthy dose of humour too, if you want your message to be remembered and shared. Memes, gifs and custom social media graphics need to be created in the right size and ratio in order to make them more shareable. That’s why we go to so much trouble to ensure that the ones we create for our clients are in both square and landscape format.
Here’s a useful post about inforgraphics: 10 Types of Infographic
The Next Step
Content marketing is the single most effective long term marketing technique that we use at Design Inspiration. Blog posts and video content that we created years ago still provide us with valuable leads because well-crafted content has incredible SEO value. Evergreen content that gives value to your audience will only appreciate in value.
In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay on the future of the internet. In it he coined the phrase “content is king” because he predicted that the internet would be a marketplace dictated by content. We now know that he was right of course, but even he had not expected the rise and dominance of the search engine. Google is now the de facto operating system for the internet. We can’t go or find anything without using a search engine and Google’s two search engines are the biggest. So, if you want your website or your work to be noticed online, you have to take a lead in creating the content that will attract and retain your clients. If you don’t, it’s likely that your competitors will.
Design Inspiration has over 27 years’ experience in creating content that gets businesses noticed online. Our professional blog copywriting service is a great way to ensure you have a regular supply of creative posts on your website. Video Marketing is one of our specialisations, take a look here to see some marketing video examples. If you want to have a no-obligation conversation about the ways we could help your business, get in touch with Design Inspiration via the form on this page.