When I was scrolling through my inbox this morning, a newsletter from Julia McCoy, CEO and Founder of Express Writers caught my attention and I decided to open it. The subject line was “Is the playbook to “good content” dead?”
In the email, she narrates her experience of conducting a content writing workshop for a healthcare venture. It turned out to be an amazing experience for her and the next day she shot a video on her experience for her YouTube channel on the beautiful California beach.
I would like you to watch her video below, as it brings some fresh air into the noisy world of content marketing.
The key takeaways from her videos are as follows.
1. Create customer focused content
Many people make the mistake of creating content with an aim to promote themselves. They forget about the fact that content should be created for the user i.e. your audiences and your customers. If your content is not about them or their needs and problems, would they be interested in your content?
2. Know your content basics
Julia says that by content basics she means content strategy and “what and how” of content.
Create content that people desire. Inspiration and innovation should be your watchwords. So, if there is a workable strategy to beat the mountains of content, be creative and create content that people are looking for.
It would be the real “next level” on your marketing journey.
In a world which is already overwhelmed with content i.e. around 3.8 billion emails every day, 5 million blogs being published daily and a total of 1.5 billion websites seeking your attention, you can’t afford to stay complacent.
With content is already peaking, there is no point repeating the same old content that people are tired of reading online. So move out of the “best practices zone” and “playbooks” and move toward a more flexible state of innovation.
3. No strategy, no success
If you do not have a proper strategy, your content is not going to be noticed. With decreasing attention span of readers, you can’t afford to create “run of the mill” type of content that lacks creativity, focus, and strategy.
4. There is no playbook to create “good content”
So how can we stand out and produced customer-focused content? She says that it became the central theme of the entire conversation at the workshop she attended the previous day.
She had come to the workshop with a whole set of rules and “best practices”, but she woke up to a new reality and that is – “There is no playbook on how to create content to succeed in marketing.”
5. Points to remember while creating content
Ask a few questions to yourself, before you decide to create content (text, audio, video, infomercial, picture message, gifs, or infographic).
A. Are you creating content on a topic people really care about?
B. What types of conversations are going on about your niche, in different forums, social media groups and blog comments ?
Most people just do the guesswork, when it comes to exploring topics and collecting data for the content they are going to publish. It’s like shooting an arrow in the dark.
Use tools like SEMRush and BuzzSumo to know what people are actually looking for online.
BuzzSumo is a tool which can be used to find topics that are trending in the industry and it makes it a very useful tool for content marketing professionals.
6. Do proper research
Lack of proper research is also a surefire way to failure. In fact, Google is full of “Top 5” and “Top 10” content that is mostly similar across the web and adds no value.
Don’t beat the same drum
A good example of “short cut” culture prevailing across the industry! An influencer or a “10-hour guru” researched a bit and wrote a “Top 10” article and the rest of the donkeys are beating the same drum over and over again.
Obviously, readers find it a waste of their time. Ever wondered, why bounce rate is so high on certain websites and blogs.
So, sometimes you have to move even beyond using tools like BuzzSumo and Google Trends.
Eavesdrop on social conversations
Tap the platforms like Quora, Reddit and Amazon Reviews to eavesdrop on what people are discussing in a particular niche. It can be a review of a book related to your industry. It will act as valuable data for your content.
For example, I used BuzzSumo to explore the trending topics in “content marketing” niche. Look at the screenshot below.
Let me share an interesting thing about this result. The most shared content about content marketing on the third spot is “The GaryVee Content Model on Slideshare“. None of the results rolled out here is from Content Marketing Institute, which is considered an authority site on the subject.
So, why GaryVee’s content is liked by the audiences so much. And don’t forget that GaryVee is expert at re-purposing content and the same content is available in many formats including text, infograhic, PDF, video and picture messages.
The GaryVee Content Model on SlideShare
The GaryVee Content Model in blog format
The GaryVee Content Model in Video Format
The GaryVee Content Model in PDF Format
Why GaryVee’s content is trending on top
Now, you can see that GaryVee has successfully re-purposed his benchmark content into different formats, but people liked it on SlideShare the most.
I would like to answer both the questions here.
A. Powerful content with more clarity
Go through the Slide decks. GaryVee has unfolded the content marketing mystery in such clear and lucid manner that you will fall in love with it. It includes the content distribution riddle that haunts many content marketers. Of course, Content marketing Institute is considered authority on the subject, but it lacks such a clear and effective blue print that GaryVee presents.
B. Choice of medium and presentation
Secondly, GaryVee has presented the same content in many formats, but people liked it in Slide decks format. Maybe because it’s highly educational content and the story-boarding methodology of instructional designing works best here.
I think these are the two important lessons for content marketers.
Now let’s have a look at what Google projects, when we search it using the keyword “content marketing model”.
Google is governed by algorithms and it puts “domain authority” above everything else. Now everybody knows that CMI is an authority on the subject, so Google is most likely to project the content published on CMI on top for every query related to content marketing. The mathematicians sitting at Google headquarters can hardly break this glass ceiling. They are conditioned and that’s the reason we need tools like BuzzSumo and Impactana, etc.
Coming back to BuzzSumo results…
While the above topics are all good and informative, you can’t base your topic ideas on them. Why?
Thousands of people and businesses are creating content on these topics across the globe and your content is likely to sink in this ocean of content.
Can you create content on topics like “content marketing model” and hope to see your content on top result pages?
- Does your website have the domain authority like CMI?
- Do you have the personal branding and resources GaryVee has?So, don’t just pounce on BuzzSumo and start creating content that is already published by someone somewhere; especially when everybody has access to such content.You must be aware of the fact that thousands of their “MeToo” copies are already available across the web. It can be suicidal to beat the same drum.
Now, let’s have a look at how to eavesdrop on social conversations. Here is a screenshot from Reddit, where a conversation is going on. The topic is — “content marketing for health, nutrition and self-help.”
Screenshot of a conversation on Reddit about content marketing strategy for niches such as nutrition, health and self-help
Look at this Reddit discussion. People are discussing the ideal content strategy for “nutrition” niche. The first participant says that nutrition is a commonly misunderstood topic and most of the content available on the Internet on this topic is created by people, who are good marketers, rather than subject experts. So, you can’t rely on the Internet to get truthful answers in this segment.
The second participant sounds more rational, though. He says that you may come across conflicting information as the topic itself is a bit complicated. However, there is no denying the fact that there is no dearth of garbage articles on the web.
He further adds that he works for a fitness blog and he writes well researched long-form content, sometimes as long as 6000+ words articles with the latest research data. This approach helps him attract traffic and grow the online community he manages.
You should work hard to create “valuable educational content” in order to build a loyal online community and receive consistent traffic. Garbage Buzzfeed articles will naturally lose their shine.
Click here to learn how to write better and faster.
7. Be creative in this dynamic world
Julia says that everything is changing around us — the world, people, seasons, and colors of life…and they are changing for good. You should also be extremely creative to adapt and accept that change.
Since it has no set rules, you need to be extremely creative while creating content for your brand.
Think creatively and think out of the box. You should talk about “they” and not “us”.
“Being creative and customer focused is certainly going to win the game”, adds Julia McCoy.