Seven Spooky Facts about Content Marketing
By Sadie Moden, 21 October 2014
Spooky fact #1. Bite-sized or a feast?
With so much information being constantly fed to us, short, punchy, bite-size content of 300-500 words has, up until now, been deemed as the ideal length.
As we head towards the end of 2014 there has been a significant ‘blog protocol’ shift that content marketers needs to know about. Click to tweet
Firstly, from search engine point of view, when it comes to blog posts it’s not a case of less is more. It’s a case of more is better. By having lengthier content it is seen as less spammy and more interesting to the audience. It shows that the writers aren’t just bashing out rubbish to appease the search engines but that they are researching and writing something that is valuable.
Likewise, we humans appear to be thirsting for more than a snippet. No longer are readers happy to be fed something that doesn’t quite dampen their appetites. They want to get to the end of a post and feel they have learnt something useable and that they’ve learnt it from someone who is a credible expert in their field.
So what’s the ideal blog length now? Anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 words. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – up to ten thousand words. Click to tweet
Your readers want to feast. The more you give to them, the more content shares they’ll give you and the better your search engine results will be.
Spooky fact #2. Spookily, content marketing isn’t all words, words, words
As well as making sure your blog posts have enough words to satisfy your audience’s thirst, it’s important to make the whole experience of reading your blog an enjoyable one.
Simply put, you need graphics.
The quality of your graphics is important. They should portray a positive and professional image of your business. Your graphics don’t need to cost the earth but simply copying and pasting a Google image into your blog isn’t going to cut it.
Whether you have a library of approved images to choose from or have a subscription to one of the many photo libraries such as Shutterstock or Photos.com it’s important to ensure the image(s) you choose not only tie in with the blog post but are also in line with your company’s branding.
Investment in good quality images for your blog is worth its weight in gold. Click to tweet
It’s worth mentioning here that the types of posts that typically receive the most shares are list posts (more on those next) and infographics. An infographic requires just as much research as word-based content but it is presented graphically. Take a look at our infographic on digital marketing.
Spooky fact #3. List posts are devilishly hot
Blogs have, up until recently, been paragraph after paragraph of useful information. There’s nothing wrong with that except that time has moved on a little. We’re using mobile devices more and more to get the latest information and so we need to be able to quickly scan for information rather than take a leisurely scroll.
Now, it’s all about ‘list posts’. What are these? Well, this blog is a list post. It still has paragraphs – you couldn’t not have paragraphs – (yes, that was a double negative!) but blogs that have numbered sub headings are what’s hot right now.
So, now we know what a list post is, the next question is why?
There are a few reasons and all have their advantages.
Firstly, if your audience is faced with a 1,000 plus post and they’re on their phone or tablet, they want to be able to quickly find the information they’re looking for. That way, they can easily find the information they want and are more likely to come back to your website to read more.
Next, make sure you’ve maximised the potential opportunities that your readers have to +1, like and share your post. Relatively new, and hugely underused, is the ‘click to tweet’ function. Give your readers the chance to share bite-sized nuggets of information to their Twitter followers using this easy tool. Click to tweet
There is also the benefit of being able to break your list post down into – in the case of this list post – seven small posts. You could create seven small blog posts from one list post or, maybe more sensibly, you have seven sizable snippets that could be edited down and shared individually via your social media channels. Seven for the price of one!
Spooky fact #4. Toffee apples, pumpkin pasties or nuts?
Whatever you’ll be nibbling on this Halloween, it’s important to remember that, from a content marketing point of view, the choice is seemingly endless.
While serving as the CEO of Google during 2001-2011, Eric Schmidt claimed that every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation up until 2003 – around five exabytes of data. Given that technological developments in the last 11 years alone have opened up a wide array of easy to use – most recently, mobile-accessible – platforms for people to share information and opinions we can only wonder what the stats would be today.
With so many people writing on the same topic as you, how can you make sure the ‘search bots’ find you? Yes, how are you going to optimise your content for search engines!
All leading content management systems (CMS) – the back end of your website – will have a basic SEO plugin. At the most basic level, fill out the boxes and have faith.
The most sophisticated of these is Squirrly. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to use it. In a nutshell, Squirrly helps you write content that is SEO and human friendly. If you pay for the pro plan you can do even more to optimise your content and benefit from stats so you can see how well you’re doing.
Using the built-in formatting tools in your CMS only will support the SEO plugin you use so ensuring you use H1, H2, tags and keywords etc is also crucial.
Don’t squirrel your content away, make it possible for readers to find your nuts! Click to tweet
Spooky fact #5. Bi-the-by, does your audience trust you?
So, you’ve written a well-researched, list post between 1,000 and 10,000 words. You’ve included some graphics and you’ve optimised your post so it will get found. Now you need to make sure those who are reading your post find you credible.
People trust people but you need to tell them a bit about yourself so they know your credentials. Write a standard biography to go at the end of your post. Become a trusted expert that will encourage readers to not just read one of your posts but to convert into a follower who will come back time and again to read more and share your posts with their followers. Click to tweet
As well as a bio, a byline is also important – it simply includes the date along with the name and position of the author.
With both a bio and a byline in place, you have positioned yourself as a credible author to your readers. It won’t hurt your search engine results either.
Spooky fact #6. Don’t dust away your cobwebs, strengthen them
If you have a well-stocked library of content you will understand that your content sits in the middle of a finely spun cobweb. Click to tweet
Central to any content marketing strategy is, obviously, content. How you deliver it to your hungry audience is through the fine strands of your web. In other words, your social media channels and newsletter to your CRM. All of your content feeds your social media channels whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn or any of the other platforms. Click to tweet
But it doesn’t end there.
You can’t just push your content out and then move on to the next piece of content. You have to nurture your audience, engage with them, feed them more, answer their questions and then, once you think that piece of content is old and forgotten, dust it off and push it out again. Why would you push it out again? Because not all of your X number of followers will have seen it the first time – with so much information out there, it’s easy to get missed. But also because your audience changes and grows over time.
You can simply re-share / post / tweet your content again a week or two later. Depending on the topic, things may have moved on and parts of your post could need refreshing. Simply update your post to make sure it’s current and, once again, share it and nurture your audience.
According to research carried out by Buzzsumo, content shared on Facebook, Twitter and G+ on Tuesday’s generally gets more shares than on any other day of the week. For LinkedIn and Pinterest, the best day is Monday. Click to tweet
Spooky fact #7. Happy Ello-ween?
Finally, slightly off topic but topical right now. There’s a lot of hype out there at the moment about a new social network called Ello.
Ello quite rightly claims that every post you share, link you like and friend you make is converted into data that advertisers buy so they can show you even more ads and as such you are a product that is bought and sold.
The ‘by invitation only’ social network site believes that a social network is a place to connect, create and celebrate life not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate.
The ethos is great but will we bite and take that leap? Assuming we get invited of course.
Let’s be honest, who knew that Twitter would become the giant that it is today? Created back in March 2006 and launched later that year in July, the site rapidly gained worldwide popularity. Today the 200 million monthly active users send over 400 million tweets a day.
At the moment Ello is a sparkly new toy that we have yet to push to the limits and see how we can break it, if at all. It’s also likely to be receiving attention from entrenched social networks like Facebook and Twitter – they’ll be wanting to know what candy Ello is trying to treat their users with.
The question is whether or not Ello has a trick up its sleeve that is tasty enough for us to bite.
Is Ello right for you? Only you can really answer that but it’s important to remember you need to maintain a presence on all of your social network channels and that doesn’t mean just sharing new content. It means interacting with your audience. If you can manage to take on one more, evaluate which is best for you, your audience and your business and then dedicate resource to maintaining it.
An inactive social media account is far worse than not having a presence on a channel. Click to tweet
To summarise, here are our spooky seven facts about content marketing:
- Let your readers have their cake and eat it with well-researched content
- Words are important but so are graphics
- Content needs to be broken down into digestible chunks with numbered lists
- Optimise your content using the formatting tools within your CMS but also by using tried and tested SEO plugins
- Help your audience trust you as a writer so they’ll come back for more
- Use your network of followers effectively – put out great content and they’ll help you go viral
- Look at new social network channels as and when they arrive but don’t take on more than you can handle.