Coming up with content ideas is a never ending job for the content marketer. Not only must you thing of the narrative or story of the content piece, you must chose the correct type of content.
It’s useful not to mix up type of content with a theme of content. Type of content is more the mechanical aspects of the production, whilst theme is more about the tone or the narrative of the content, which will determine the feeling the end user is left with when the content has done its work.
This distinction is important as it determines the production requirement of the content.
Thus an infographic is not a “How to”, piece of content, but it can be. However, a “How to”, piece of content can be a video or a blog post… etc.. “How to”, content is something like, “How to decide where the Best Hotel in Cuba”, it is nothing to do with the type of content. Once you have your theme you can quickly tell what type of content it should be created as. In this case it would work as a blog post, Infographic, video… etc.
Theme and type should be both subservient to what type of person do you want to attract and consume the content and what do you want them to do after they have. Too many times I read about creating content for its own sake without little or any thought for the end result. Sometimes the excitement of content creators producing something in a new, cutting edge method, an HTML5 interactive infographic for example can obscure the reason why the project is being considered in the first place.
Types of content include:
- Blog posts
- Guest posts
Blog posts should be regular, timely and sometimes topical. Short and to the point works best, although there is a trend to create uber long blog posts to aid SEO. Brand perception is also increased by long, informative content.
Short and long form content types both work, but in different ways, it really depends on your audience and how you want your brand perceived. You could of course, always do both.
The bar for a blog post to be effective is extremely high due to competition and attentional dissipation, when considering it from a brand perspective. This means it must be worked on more than the average output of the competition and by people who are more skilled.
Guest posting has had a bad rap in recent times as it has been abused by those simply wanting a link and nothing else. But they are a fantastic way to build your brand and tribe, the link of course still has an effect, but any perception by Google that you are merely after links or specific anchor text and you will be in hot water.
Guest posting is a natural extension of the blog post, but with the added skill of effective networking, and persuading other sites to host content.
When targeting specific tribes this technique can be extremely effective as relationships can be built where the competition are not building relationships.
Each positive connection should be seen as a brick in the foundation of the brand.
Surveys, contests and reports are more complex and simply need more time to implement. By using people who are expert in this field, this content can be produced to a standard which will grab the attention of influencers in the wider media and influencers within a specific tribe. One big hit from this type of content can establish a foundation for years to come.
Surveys, and reports should be planned as one offs and fit in the cycle of the content production in a logical way to maximise the support that such content gets as these will require a higher investment. Subsequently that should be published as one survey every three months and one in-depth report every 6 weeks. The length of time between each large content investments allows the maximum ROI squeezed from each one.
Contests are best when they are topical and hook into the news. Once people start following a regular contest, it could be very powerful.
Podcasting and its more advanced cousin video blogging, is where the majority of the competition get left behind. Having a good, consistent podcast can set you apart in the sector. People love to consume content whilst away from the screen. People who are influential, love podcasts and will always consider a brand which produces one more highly than one that does not. For a podcast to produce an effective ROI it does not have to have BBC broadcast quality, it simply needs to give people what they want.
That lack of corporate polish actually increases the authority of the production.
Podcasting works if it is a continual and regular event as a successful one will build audience over time. A successful one is worth its weight in gold and is exceptional as a brand builder. The investment in one is high and so a fortnightly or monthly podcast should be considered. Although once set up the costs diminish and fold in to the other networking tasks which are being performed. For example to interview someone on a podcast does not take a great deal more work than interviewing someone over email. There is a great desire for podcasts, but because of perceived production costs of time and money they probably have not gone ahead with it.
Building an email list is the mantra of many online marketer, and it still is a powerful form of communication and persuasion.
People request to be on an email list and they consider their inbox to be a special place and so tend to consume the contents of an email differently to other content. There is still good evidence to show that email is one of the most effective communications tool available for online marketers.
For certain target sectors such as insurance or finance, calculators are essential content, by being able to solve complex issues regarding finances, travel and time it takes is something that people expect to be addressed.
If got right these mini apps can provide a huge boost to the brand.
Calculators are one off events and also need to be supported with other content to market them. These are essential for DQC and for its brand and I would suggest a new calculator which is focused on a specific issue every 6 weeks. This can be done in-house and fold into current development planning with the main quote tool.
If done well, infographics can be very useful. However it does require a lot of investment and as there are so much competition from this type of content it has to work harder to provide an effective ROI. However, using data in a graphical form in a small way has shown to provide benefit, especially with the social media tribe who data centric and are always on the lookout for trends or techniques on how to be more effective.
Infographics are probably not the foremost best content to be produced from an ROI perspective, but could give a big win if a specific area is discovered for exploitation.
For example if a conversation for a mainstream journalists uncovers that they would help promote an infographic which is focused on a specific area, in return for helping the journalist with content and research, then it’s definitely worth looking at. Other than that, small, bite-sized data graphics which support a narrative could be published fortnightly.
In conclusion, there are a number of tried and tested content options available to the content producer. The simplest solution is usually the best and the danger is always that some creative type is going to want to do things which are a bit more exciting and experimental, but which doesn’t produce an effective ROI.
When it comes down to it, the best content is the content that works. Unless you are deliberately doing something experimental it’s best to stick to the tried and tested methods.