Successful content marketing means putting a lot of thought into content strategy and execution. Who exactly are you writing content for? What specific problems do your audience segments experience and how can you best address these needs? Where – besides your own site or blog – are the opportunities for giving your intellectual property more exposure? Establishing answers involves persona research and/or audience polls, general research, and a careful assessment of the content resources at your disposal. But to really excel, you’ve got to think beyond them.
What Happens After the Article Is Published?
Your article, after fact-checking (especially important today now that Google appears to be working to deploy an algorithm linking factual accuracy with SERP ranking), copy-editing, illustration, and optimization, is now published. Now what?
Unfortunately, the answer is too often “nothing.” Sure, your social team promotes the article to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but your visibility on these fast-scrolling social streams may last for less than a minute. Google will spider it, of course, which means your content will enjoy a shadowy afterlife in the long-tail query space. But aside from that – it’s just another pebble scattered on the Web’s infinite beach of content.
In other words, oblivion.
Fighting Combat Oblivion
- Build shareability into your articles. The best single strategy I’ve found for fighting combat content oblivion is to bake social media into many of the articles my team creates. There are several ways to do this, for example, by tapping the power of arguments, controversy, data, and humor. If you’re not familiar with my Yearbook Approach to content marketing, it’s most easily described as a way to enroll third parties in the success of any given piece of content so that the chances of being shared are maximized.
One mistake that’s often made in content marketing teams is to insufficiently allocate resources for image generation/curation. Articles with good images in them travel much better than those that don’t have them. While not every team can afford to have a graphic designer on board, it’s possible to acquire the rights to use images at little or no cost; one of my favorite sites to use is Wiki Commons. Just make sure that you pay attention to and abide by the rules for using such images, many of whose terms simply require correct attribution.
- Consider paid promotions. Expecting any article promotion to reach more than a tiny sliver of your audience on Facebook has been a pipe dream for more than a year. Social clicks are cheap relative to Google clicks, which is a good thing. But don’t start paying to bring people to your article without carefully mapping out what you’re going to do with these people once they arrive. Think of your articles as “social landing pages” that drive people further into your web of influence. Include a very strong call-to-action (usually a graphic CTA embedded directly in the article text) driving people into converting (for example, by downloading an e-book or signing up for your newsletter).
- Plan for guest blogging and syndication. I’ve written before about the advantages of syndication and guest blogging, which can give your content prestige and access to audiences who would otherwise be unaware of who you are and what you do, and about LinkedIn’s publishing platform, which can provide similar boosts in visibility. While there’s no direct SEO benefit from guest blogging/syndication, the opportunity to extend your influence is compelling. The biggest downside of this approach is that you’ll have to decide which of your “editorial crown jewels” should be handed over to a third party (instead of running on your own site).
- Plan for reuse. The inbound marketing model relies on trading access to privileged content in exchange for permission to re-message those who seek access. So having an inventory of long-form, high-quality assets such as e-books is critical for inbound to work. But producing such works can take a lot of effort (in my experience it takes at least a month to create a worthy e-book from scratch). If your team is stretched in this area, you can cut e-book production time by planning each blog post to serve as an individual chapter in a longer work. Once the series of posts is completed, compile them into an e-book, add appropriate graphics, intro, outro, and TOC, and you’re done.
While some social media uses of content are fleeting, content can be forever from the perspective of SEO. Even if you haven’t written the content with the idea that it is evergreen, you never know what it might rank for down the road. A CMS that allows you to adapt navigation that surrounds older content is a great way to route visitors to fresher, more relevant content.
Image via Shutterstock.
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