Content creation is big business. More and more companies are learning that providing answers to their customer's questions online can help them be discovered and will lead to a sales. Vast numbers of businesses are incorporating content into their marketing strategies and the words "Content is king!" are being yelled from the rooftops. That's great news for inbound marketing agencies like us, but not so great news for independent retailers or small businesses.
Big businesses are able to invest heavily, throwing money at freelance writers or hiring an inhouse team of content creators. Everyone it seems is blogging, sharing images, creating their own YouTube channels and it's hard to be heard above the din of other voices tweeting "me, me me". And this has resulted in an overproduction of content on the web.
It's a sad fact that the majority of blog posts being created never so much as a single social share, fewer still get backlinks. Some are only viewed by the members of the company who post it. And these posts aren't necessarily bad content either; they're just not discoverable.
This can be for a multitude of reasons but mostly it's down to low site authority so low ranking ability and lack of social media promotion and a small digital footprint. But primarily it's about competition. If you're writing about a topic that's been blogged to death then there will be 100 articles with more authority than yours. So what can you do in this instance? Make it unique to your audience and make it relevant to current events. Put your own unique spin on it to make it stand out. Brand your content just like your website, this could be with slick design or glossy images, a certain editorial style or sense of humor. Think of newspapers that all cover the same story, each appeals to a different readership so there's room to talk about the same subjects.
A million monkeys with a million typewriters could produce the works of Shakespeare - Infinite Monkey Theorem
But the best way to make sure your content isn't drowned out in the sea of key-tapping primates is by researching your topics thoroughly and listening to what your audience really wants.
You don't have to churn out content at the rate of knots or hire a million monkeys with a million keyboards hoping that one of them will churn out a post that will rank high and win big, which is exactly how those with big marketing budgets do it. Instead you can listen in on social media, find the gap of information and answer with an authoritative voice or a unique viewpoint. That way you supply the demand and get natural backlinks and shares. This is the art of social listening.
So where do you start making content that ranks?
You start by talking to the people who are on the front line of your business, who interact most with your customers. You may have a sales team or people who work a shop floor. What are the customers asking about? You should already have content that answers the most pressing questions that all your customers ask when considering a purchase. (If you don't this is your first priority) But are there any new trends, or concerns they want answered?
If you don't have a physical shop or sales team, don't worry, this is where social media steps up. It's not just a tool to promote brand awareness it can and should inform strategic decisions - everything from what products are in demand, to if your competitors are failing their customers in a way you can beat.
Here are several tools you can use to increase your hearing ability and monitor business and industry mentions in social media:
- Google Alerts - Set up multiple Google Alerts for your company, brand, products, leaders, industry terms, etc. The alerts will get delivered directly to your email inbox at the frequency you indicate (e.g., daily or as they happen) and they are a great way to track mentions of your brand and relevant keywords on the web.
- Social media management tools - These tools allow you to save keyword searches as a live stream so you won't miss out on what's being said about your brand, your industry, and your products.
- Social Inbox - In addition to providing the social monitoring functionality of a traditional social media management tool, HubSpot's Social Inbox also plugs into your contacts database, color-codes your customers and leads, and helps you prioritise your engagement so you can focus your time on the conversations that are important to your business.
An important part of leveraging social media for business is to understand what industry related conversations are happening online and recognising when you should respond. But where it really gets interesting is when you start tracking keywords you want to rank for or have content about. Track topics that you are an authority on, see what's being said, and what isn't, then plug the gap with the definitive blog post on the subject. Promote the hell out of it on social media and watch your traffic and leads increase.
When someone mentions a topic you already have content about, join the conversation, build a relationship and casually mention you have this great resource on your site they might like. This should get you at least a like, share or a backlink.
As I said, everyone is shouting from the rooftops, so you have to shout louder - be persistent. Don't just do one post per channel per blog, schedule several Tweets to your blog with different headline hooks that will appeal to different people. Use different images each time. Break your blog post up into splintered sections of snippets so that each is unique but points to the same blog post. You're not being repetitive if the post is different every time, you're simply repurposing your blog to get the most out of it. But don't be lazy - simply reposting the same tweet or Instagram post, is a surefire way to lose you followers. People are watching and they do notice! The first sign of something they don't want in their feed and they unfollow immediately.
So if you still want to hire a zoo full of monkeys, get them splintering your social media posts, not churning out content that no one's interested in. Whatever your content strategy, make sure there's someone with their ear to the internet, listening to your customers.
If you want to learn more about how to write great blogs read our post on creating great content.
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