Crowning Your Content as King

Courtesy of Let's Build Websites

You've probably heard a million times that content is king. In an age of ubiquitous social networks, everybody is consuming billions of bits and bytes of information across multiple streams - Facebook pages, blog posts, Tweets, videos, podcasts, photos and so on - whenever and wherever they are.

There is a problem, however. With such an overwhelming amount of company and user generated content in the social webs, consumers are screening what they are seeing, hearing and viewing. Increasingly, many are even putting aside their mobiles, tablets and laptops to declare "unplugged" days (such as yours truly).

Against this ocean of competition and rising consumer backlash, how can your company hope to stand out?

Here's what I think.

First, understand who your targeted customers are. What are their areas of interest and concerns? How would they be living a typical day in their lives? If possible, conduct in-depth interviews or visualise what a day could possibly be like for Mr X, Miss Y or Family Z.

Next, discern what their information consumption patterns are likely to be. Where would they go to find out which special offers are available at the supermarket, which jobs are available, or how they can fix their broken washing machine? What magazines or online websites do they visit to get their latest news, gossips, or useful information on business or lifestyle?

Thereafter, identify where the gaps in the information market are. Is there a niche which is unfilled by current information providers on blogs, forums, Facebook or other social networking platforms? Where does the opportunity lie?

More importantly, how can you differentiate your content offering from the rest of the competition?

Any casual surfer would have noticed the plethora of food, fashion, classifieds, housing, job and travel websites and blogs. Many are run by huge media companies. Competing against them would be like running against the wall. What you can do, however, is to focus on niche areas (eg vegan cooking, foldable biking, single malt whiskey tasting) that may be underserved yet represent a sizable and growing special interest group.

Once you've identified where your opportunity lies, focus your energies on creating and curating the best content that you can manage in that field. Here are some tips that you can consider:

1) KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid! All you've got is literally a split second or less before a user switches platform at the swipe of a screen.

2) headlines, Headlines, HEADLINES - Yes, you need to grab their attention in that infinitesimal bit of time. Clever headlines work in drawing readers and viewers. However, don't resort to trickery.

3) A picture or video paints a thousand words - Use photographs and videos to draw your reader's attention. If you're photogenic or telegenic, use yourself as the model!

4) Be relevant and useful - To draw repeat visitors, you need to provide content that meets their needs, interests and desires. Instead of trying to sell, aim to educate instead.

5) Be genuine and authentic - Yes, everybody can smell a rat, even if they're hundreds of thousands of miles away. Any wrongdoing and deception will be met with instant scorn and transmitted to thousands in a millisecond.

After you've got your formula right - and it'd take a while - you need to stick to your guns and be patient. Cultivating online communities and followers takes time and patience. Be consistent and regular in putting up fresh content, and aim to be creative in how you write, produce your video, or shoot your photos.

The key here is to balance the 3Fs: Familiarity, Functionality and Freshness. While you should focus on a niche area that you're au fait with and adhere to it, you should also try to provide significant utility to your readers/viewers/listeners. You should also be unafraid of developing unique writing/video/podcast producing styles. monitor their outcomes and determine which work best.

Remember that any content marketing effort takes a while to realise its potential. Develop an original point of view, provide useful and updated information, and seek to be consistent and dependable come hell or highwater. Hopefully, over time, you will be able to anchor your business in great content that helps to generate positive business outcomes.

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