What does it take to create great content?

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 19 Jan, 2016
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Popular bloggers and vloggers (Video Bloggers) are becoming international digital celebrities. Social media followers are looked upon much like units of currency. In this landscape where anyone and everyone has a voice, it’s difficult to establish what exactly makes a genuine digital content publisher.

It’s even harder still to separate your brand’s website content from the rest of the herd and stand out as a producer of great content.

In many ways, the birth and astonishing growth of social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook turned us all into content publishers. They certainly gave us the capability to be content publishers. If you really drill down through the technicalities, even uploading ‘selfies’ to Instagram is a form of digital content publishing.

So why should you care as a brand? What’s in it for you if you go to the time and effort of developing your website and your owned media with great, fresh and relevant content?

  • Custom Content Council research quoted by photo agency Getty Images says that more than half of consumers are willing to buy from companies that provide them with content.

  • The same study also found that two thirds of consumers use content marketing content to make better purchase decisions.

  • Hubspot research shows that companies who develop more content generate more leads. It calculates that brands publishing 20 or more blogs per month generate the most return in traffic and leads.

  • Having more than 400 indexed pages generates the same kind of traffic and leads – so content really is an important sales tool.

If you’re having trouble translating these figures into real business activity, consider Red Bull. With thousands upon thousands of articles, images and videos in its archives, it’s one of the best examples there is of using content to brand build and market share. A 2012 Mashable case study called Red Bull a content powerhouse. The author of the article, journalist James O’Brien says this is the perfect example of how content marketing should be done,

“Content marketing is not an ad on a billboard or a one-page spread in a magazine. It doesn't have to be a commercial on cable television or the 28 annoying seconds before the start of that next YouTube hit.

The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with — and return to engage with — the brand.”

To tap into these benefits, it’s important that you start thinking and acting more like a content publisher.

Here are some variables to consider when it comes to the content you’re publishing. Keep these points in mind and begin to act on these guidelines on a regular basis and you’re halfway to becoming a great content publisher (and tapping into those all important lead and traffic increases):

Unique content vs curated and recycled content

This is an easy way to separate the genuine publishers from the rest. This metric looks at how much of the content shared by a brand is unique to that brand compared with how much is simply recycled, curated content. This mix is something that you’ll see often on social media with publishing, participation and sharing of ‘viral’ content.

For brands and business accounts, curation can be used effectively to build association and fill gaps in the content schedule. The reason for the use of curated content, particularly on social platforms, is because many brands and businesses simply struggle to produce enough content to update their social platforms on a daily basis. Don’t shy away from curated content but don’t build your whole blog or social media channel on it.

“Curated content has its place.Creating enough compelling content to deliver social media posts on a daily basis is just not something many brands have the time, creativity or resources to deliver while running the rest of their business. Ideally to be considered a genuine content publisher, recycled content shouldn’t be more than 25% or your content output, with another maximum 25% curated or adapted existing content. This leaves 50% of content needing to be unique to you and your brand. This is why brands that want to push themselves as an authority online are seeking out quality content marketing partners as part of their online business strategies.” Chris Woods – digital strategist

Frequency of publishing

To become an online authority, you need to publish great content, regularly.

News outlets like the BBC and CNN are two extreme examples. Consider how often they release news stories and updates in a single day. They have so much unique content in production that they even have categorized social media accounts for sport, news, politics etc. No online business or brand can be  expected to keep up with the best in class news providers. That said, to be viewed as an authority and a major player in your industry, being a high frequency provider of unique information is critical.

If you can push out enough genuinely valuable content, you will eventually become a go-to for your target audience. This means thinking less like a retailer or service provider and more like a big-time publisher.

Being a content publisher is not easy. Many businesses recognize the value of content marketing for generating traffic and authority, not to mention improving organic search efforts and aiding social media presence. However, most just aren’t equipped to deliver the frequency and quality of unique content required.

How can you get started?

  • Appointing a content marketing agency is an obvious short term solution. Don’t expect them to push out a huge volume of great content from the get go though. Your content needs to be useful for your target audience, so while mass produced short form blogs might tick the volume box, they won’t make that connection you need with your audience to turn a reader into a buyer.

  • Do curate some content, at least initially. But don’t rely only on information creation by third parties for your brand.

  • Consider outreach – identify the strong voices in your industry and the influencers who resonate with your target audience. Reach out with collaboration suggestions. Approach bloggers to write unique content posts for you. Be aware that there will be a cost involved, but the tradeoff is often high quality material from a respected authority. This makes the end piece of content more valuable.

  • Tap into your existing resources – your customer service reps, account managers and shop floor staff interact with your customers on a daily basis. They are an untapped resource when it comes to creating content in many businesses. They know what customers want to know, questions most frequently asked, obstacles to purchase and all sorts of other insights that will help you tailor content that really resonates.

Content is a powerful traffic generating tool for any online business. This is why we often see whole strategies built around it. Your own strategy will depend on the size of your business, your content ambitions and your industry.

Will you do more to become a content publisher this year? What content generating tips do you swear by? Let us know in the comments.

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