This year, content marketing is the number one priority for every business — both big and small. It’s the soul of blogs, the heart of online magazines, and the means to success for entrepreneurs who work exclusively from home. For 20 years it’s been said that content is everything — content is King.
Once upon a time, that was true.
While effective content marketing plays a key role in the growth of any business with an online presence, it simply doesn’t deserve the crown any longer. (Where’s Steve Harvey when you need him?)
Let’s take a look at what content marketing is and what role it plays in the growth of a business.
What is content marketing?
You’ll find that everyone has their own definition of content marketing, depending on what they aim to achieve with their core audience.
I reached out to Maya Elious, an entrepreneur who has found mighty success with developing her personal brand online. When I asked her how she defined content marketing, this is what she said:
Do you notice a pattern in the answers I received? Content marketing is about focusing on giving people value through the content that you create.
I’d add to Maya’s definition by including that beyond the possibility of education and entertainment, you can also use your content to inspire and motivate.
There’s egotistical content marketing, then there’s effective content marketing. With any popular method that leads to making money in some way, there will be people who find a way to abuse it.
That’s why the internet is filled with filth. It’s why you can’t get simple answers to simple questions. It’s the reason people can’t find you even though you have amazing content available for them for free.
Content can’t be King any longer. It simply doesn’t work as well as it used to.
So how do I make it work for me?
The content you are producing and distributing means absolutely nothing if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with it.
There’s content marketing abuse; spurring out a mix of boring, decent, and awesome content as fast as humanely possible to reach as many people as possible.
Then there’s effective content marketing; the method of strategically curating high-quality content for a targeted audience and promoting in the places they most hang out.
You don’t only want to promote that content where your audience spends their time, but you want to be seen in the places they hang out to consume that type of content.
Women love their kids. On Facebook, they like reading cute messages and entertaining memes about the joys (and horrors) of motherhood.
When they visit LinkedIN, they’re there to consume a completely different type of content. The same memes that they were willing to share on Facebook will go unnoticed on a different type of platform.
How do I know if my content is excellent?
You have to plan out your content in the same fashion that you planned your brand, your business, your website, and the outfit you wore on your best day.
Define your audience and figure out what kind of content they consume the most thoroughly.
You do not, under any circumstance, create content and release it without knowing who the audience is you’re aiming to reach. It’s a waste of your time and it will damage your brand if you make it a habit.
Delivering your content with focus and clarity helps people to trust you and recognize your brand immediately.
While one audience may not take the time to read a long, informative article, they will laugh, share, and discuss an entertaining article segmented by comedic gifs and memes. Buzzfeed is a great example of how that is executed.
While I have never shared a Buzzfeed article or been struck by the epicness of their content, there are millions who have.
Where should I sent my customers?
You need to think of what you want your audience to do once they’ve consumed the content:
Visit your website
Consume another piece of content you’ve created
Share with their friends
Give their opinion
Remember your brand (brand awareness)
Become a customer/client (buy something from you)
Provide you with backlinks
View you as an expert
Deciding what you want your audience to do will help you to curate content that is specifically leading them toward that action as subtly as possible.
We need direction and a little prompting for us to do what you want us to do.
How do I distribute awesome content?
The beauty of content marketing is that it can be done in so many ways. You can deliver your content in the form of blogging, podcasts, social media, interviews, videos, your email list, and anywhere else you think your content will be well-received.
Your content should contain three things:
Your brand voice
Your business name
A connecting theme – What makes your content easily recognizable? Is it the colors, the edit, the type of font used?
Your brand is essentially your uniform. It’s how people come to recognize you and associate you with a specific idea.
Someone can run across your amazing content over and over again and never realize that it all comes from one source because there was no connecting theme.
Give them a reason to look for you.
Who gets the Crown, if not content?
Now that you know how to produce effective content marketing and use it in the right way for your business, let’s talk about why content can’t be crowned king.
Perhaps we’ve become too familiar with social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram suggesting that we “follow” other people.
Great content isn’t a good enough reason for people to follow your brand because there’s too much noise on the internet.
Content is the vehicle that helps people to discover you, but it isn’t what compels people to stay with you, join your tribe, root for you, and most importantly – trust you.
So, we hand the crown over to engagement. Because engagement is king. It’s the new leader in the ever-changing system of online marketing.
They want to know the writer behind the words, the photographer behind the pictures, the designer behind the ad. They want to connect with you. They want to give you their opinions and their support because they know that you care.
The About section used to be nothing more than an essential part of a professional website. You just had to have it. It used to be stuffed with some credentials, a picture, a mission statement, awards and accolades, and other information people weren’t going to read.
After consuming incredible content, the very next thing people of this era do is visit the About page. It is now one of the most important sections of your website.
The formula for successful online marketing is changing and if you want your business to thrive, then you have to change with it.
Mass producing content is not a strategy that can stand on its own.
You have to connect with the people receiving your content in a natural and genuine way.
Engagement is what gives you an edge over the competition. It’s the reason why so many small businesses are rising when their competitors are far larger with significantly higher budgets.
Engagement is the reason you even have a shot to go up against the sharks.
After you’ve done your research, created valuable content, and used strategic marketing to reach your target audience, your job isn’t finished.
Talk to those people, get to know your consumers. Ask them questions, tell them stories, acknowledge the strides their making in their own lives.
It makes a difference in the success or failure of your business.
Because essentially, Engagement is King.
How do you engage with your audience?