Quality content, quality content, quality content.
Have you heard enough about the need for quality content yet? Everyone in social media and SEO, and marketing in general, is talking about it, how the only way to succeed in the evolving digital landscape is to provide high quality content – content that gets shared, content that gets talked about and, most importantly, content that gets people to trust in, and rely on, your brand. That’s all fine, no one’s debating the importance of quality content in your marketing plan, but the problem many people face is that there are no guidelines on what ‘quality’ is. In previous iterations of SEO best practice, there were certain rules to follow, keyword density, link-building, etc – these were scientific and researched guidelines that, if applied, lead to better search engine results. And that’s great, that’s what people want, because there’s no grey area in that, there’s no question on to how to achieve success. But content quality is different. You might write something you think is amazing, but it ends up going no where. You might pay someone to put together an informative piece, but your audience doesn’t care. And the problem is, this can happen, even with the best writers and the best info.
Content is no certainty, there’s no definitive rules on what will and won’t be highly shared. This is especially true when you’re starting out, as you need to test things in order to work out what resonates with your audience. The best we can do is research, look at what works and what doesn’t, what fits best with specific audiences and platforms. One way to approach this is to apply the ‘Triple A’ approach, three steps to keep in mind in your content process to ensure you’re doing all you can to achieve ‘Triple A’ results:
- Audience – Quality content is what your audience wants to read about, not what you want to tell them. This is a key element in content creation. We can often get caught up in our own world, our own company or industry, because it’s something we’re personally passionate about and we want to share that with the world. But is it something your audience will care about? Sometimes you’ll see brands sharing updates from internal conferences or info about new initiatives, but the info has no relation to the customer experience. You have to know your audience and understand what they’re talking about, what they’re doing. Find out how they’re using your products and services, what issues are impacting them. Find out what info they’re reading and sharing, conduct audits using social media analytics tools like BuzzSumo to find what’s being discussed in your industry, where people’s interests or concerns are placed. The more you can see things from your audience’s perspective, the better you’ll be able to produce content that speaks to them. Research what works – content length, blog titles, images – specific to the audience you need to reach, and use that in your planning and execution.
- Authenticity – Find the real stories in your content, the humanity of what you’re doing. People don’t want corporate messaging, they want to make connections with real people, human to human. You do this by telling stories, presenting information in a passionate way that not only showcases your expertise, but also how that expertise relates to the real world experiences of your customers. Use case studies and personal insights to highlight your brand’s place in their day-to-day lives, show your audience the why of your company’s existence, the benefits. Success in social is largely based on word of mouth, and developing an engaging and authentic voice is key.
- Activity – Writing the content is one thing, but that’s just the beginning of the process for building relationships and establishing a network of collaborators and advocates. Once your piece is posted, make sure you share it via all your social profiles, then track each post to locate shares and mentions. Where possible, you should thank people for reading and sharing your content – a simple note of gratitude can go a long way towards building an ongoing brand association. You can use HootSuite to track mentions across most platforms, CircleCount too is good to use to find where your content has been shared on Google+. For each share, ‘Like’, ‘Favourite’ or ‘+1’ the post and send them a brief note of appreciation. This puts your profile in their feed, makes them aware of your presence and is the first step in forming a new relationship. Always use their name, as opposed to a generic thank you message, and try to include a personalised reference where you can. It can be time consuming to thank each individual share but that effort will go a long way towards building connections and expanding your reach. Respond to questions, locate shares of your content on LinkedIn groups and comment there, seek to be part of the conversation wherever possible. Each share is an opportunity – you should approach each interaction with that in mind.
The ‘Triple A’ approach is a basic outline of the three things to keep in mind in the content process. Doing these things will you start you off on the right foot, and from there you’ll develop new ideas and see further opportunities on how to improve and maximise your content engagement. Have a plan in mind, stick to your process and always measure the results. The info you gain will help you evolve your strategy over time, allowing you to achieve best results from your social presence and create stronger relationships with your online communities.