It can be easy to get caught up in the lightning-fast pace of the content marketing stream. New information, platform, tools, and metrics can come at you all too quickly and before you know it, you’ve lost sight of the goals you set long before you got started.
When there is so much to consider in developing your content, it can be helpful to establish a set of best practices to help you keep your footing. These guidelines can act as a compass that you can come back to anytime to keep your content fresh and focused. Read on to discover our personal list of best practices.
Would I Click This Link?
With content becoming more and more targeted, you can feel a growing pressure to connect with every subgroup of audience types under the sun. Before you know it, you’ve missed the forest for the trees and your content has become too niche.
In practice, it’s helpful to remember a simple rule when thinking about what type of audience you want to reach. If it’s not interesting to you, then it’s probably not interesting to anyone else. Would I click on this link? If the answer is no, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
This rule can apply to even the most on-brand of verticals. At Fractl, we’re consistently challenged to earn media coverage for topics most would deem “less than suitable of viral success.” When the conditions allow, try to identify the tangential topics. Topics like human resources can be turned into social shares with headlines like, “The Most Inappropriate Topics to Discuss at Work.”
Short and Sweet. Easily Digestible Content
Don’t be afraid to cut your content. In fact, grab the largest pair of scissors you have and go to town. It may feel tempting to adopt a mindset of “more is better,” especially when sizing up your content’s competition. For this reason, we remember that the internet’s attention span is equivalent to… oh look, a new Slack notification. Where were we?
Make your content digestible. Break it down into bite-sized chunks. If there’s a lot to cover, consider a series hitting on the most impactful aspects. There’s a reason why long-form infographics have fallen out of favor. The benefits to this are many, with the one of the most significant being increased opportunity for sharing. It allows publishers and audiences to pick and choose the takeaways that most resonate with them.
First Impressions and the Inverted Pyramid
With making your content short and sweet comes the importance of the first impression. What’s the point of short and simple content if your readers bounce in the first five seconds?
For this reason, content marketing and journalism share a common rule in the their use of the Inverted Pyramid technique. Among it’s levels, the first being the most important instructs us to “lead with your lead.” Our goal is to draw audiences in and capture their interests. When you put your most impactful information at the forefront, you are increasing the chances readers will funnel down through the details, into the context of your content, until they arrive at that all-important call-to-action (if you’re using one).
Are we Relevant?
There are plenty of reasons to focus on the relevancy of your content. As a best practice, taking a moment to ask yourself, “how is this relevant” is an important step in the early content development process.
At the initial ideation stage, the entire basis for your content can be born from a need for relevance; a trending story or topic, a major event, a lingering question from your audience. Relevancy can also be a lens through which to portray your content. One of the easiest way to find relevance is through timeliness. Consider content based around a holiday or season as one way to generate relevancy with your audiences that might just make them more likely to click.
Promoting Actionable Takeaways
Changing one’s behavior is one of the most lasting ways to make an impression. When your content presents actionable takeaways you’re presenting new opportunities to change behavior. It’s the “but why” of content marketing. The “why” is a new and better way to do something, the information you need to make a decision, the understanding of how something has happened or will happen in the future.
For this reason, it’s always helpful to stop and consider what your actionable takeaways are, no matter the stage of content development. Even if it means spelling it out in bold highlighted text. Determine what you want your readers to come away with after viewing your content. The stronger the change in behavior, the stronger your content.