7 Tips I Learned the Hard Way about Content Marketing


Reading time ( words)

Some quick hits for this week:

What you want to accomplish with your content

  • You want the reader to want to read more content like this from you
  • You want the reader to want to share this content with his colleagues
  • You want the reader to want to know more about your company
  • You want the reader to want to engage with you

In each of these cases, the reader feels compelled to do something because the content is interesting, educational or both. When you are putting content together, keep this in mind. Is your content strong enough to accomplish these goals?

Join conversations in industry and user groups

This is part of the “Go where your customers are” approach. Contribute. Say something interesting. Answer questions. Jump into open-ended discussions. Get noticed. There are so many blatant sales pitches in many of these forums that a thoughtful articulate comment will have twice the impact.

Keep it short, keep it simple

People have short attention spans. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. The fact is, everyone has so much on their plates these days that they just don’t have the time to devote to long content. A 30-minute how-to video on YouTube may be great, but sectioning it into ten three minute videos is much better. And 15 two-minute videos may be even better still. Other good examples are blog posts or columns like this one. Note that at the top of all the iConnect columns is a word count and the estimated time to read the column. This translates to "You have time to read this". Keep your content short and simple and to the point.

Be consistent: don't mix business and personal

If you use Twitter as a company platform, stop doing using it for movie reviews, too. While Social Media is less formal than most of us are used to in the business world, remember that you are using it for business.

Have great content

Say, I have a network of one thousand Twitter followers, one thousand Facebook fans, and one thousand LinkedIn connections. If you send a tweet with an update that you are exhibiting at a trade show, do I share it with my network? Pretty unlikely. But, if you tweet and reference a story about a novel new way you have solved a quality problem that I and my professional peers wrestle with every day – now that gets noticed, and shared. Great content gets shared. Make your content great. Think of your content as stories, and always aim at telling an interesting story.

Experiment and try different things

Try a lot of little changes. Adjust the length of blog posts (What works best for you? 300 words? 400, 500 or more?). Publish content at different times of the day. For example, I know not to publish my blog posts at midnight; I should post them during the day. But is early better than later? How early is early? I do some posting for a client on the west coast. I need to remember to do some of their posts at eight  in the evening my (east coast) time in order for the content to available for their customers at 5pm west coast time. Experiment with different headlines. There are a thousand little things you can do. Your job is to always be striving to optimize your social media use such that you maximize your opportunities for engagement.

Never forget that the end result you want is a sale

Start thinking about awareness as the first critical step on the road to a sale – because it is. And these ideas are all little things – content, style, format, timing – that will have an impact on people being aware of you and your company. It is really very tough to start making a good impression on someone if they are not aware of you.

Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in Social Media and especially LinkedIn. He has 30 years experience in high tech sales and management. He can be reached at brucej@practicalsmm.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.

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