From Benjamin Franklin’s first published annual ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’ way back in 1732, to the first Michelin guide in 1900 to the modern day company blog, content marketing has fulfilled a pivotal role in a brand’s marketing campaigns.

The central idea of content marketing is not only to advertise to customers but to reciprocate their interest in your brand by providing information in their quest for information. Content marketing is nothing new, but since the proliferation of the internet, brands have been handed the keys to an altogether different beast. Today, around 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day, according to a study by LinkedIn.

Today, marketers have access to a vehicle that allows their brands to reach out to consumers around the world, and content marketing is the key to forging a reputation as a leader in their respective field.

Use the right channels, the right way

But with this newfound exposure comes a myriad of challenges. Getting your content in front of the right people today can be more demanding than creating the content, largely because almost every company now has its own content marketing team. Being noticed in the crowd requires a detailed understanding of the best channels to transmit content for your specific brand, a good grasp of the most effective times to share, and a keen eye for the best influencers to help get your message out.

With the explosion in specialist ‘content creation’ sites, being heard above the din is no easy task. That’s why you have to think carefully about every stage of the process before generating content. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. The early years of the internet resembled a digital wild west, where any content was deemed worthy of publication and the basic rules of writing were eschewed in the pursuit of clicks. Today, the clickbait industry is (unfortunately) stronger than ever, but audiences expect more from branded content.

Consistency is crucial

Consistent content requires an extensive knowledge of your own brand’s core ethos. To guarantee your audience comes back for more, refer to your core values before posting anything. This is particularly important when you’re devising your new social and outreach campaigns.

Consider what the end goal of your post is, how many new leads you hope to generate and what would make you stop and click if you were in need of the services your company offers. There are some great guides out there to developing your social campaigns while staying true to your brand message.

Alongside this, always keep your audience profile snapshot in mind when generating and disseminating content. Creating an audience snapshot is no easy feat, but it’s a fantastic resource for giving your marketing a strong focus and a genuine consistency.

It’s not just in content development that you need to maintain consistency, however. People like knowing when and where great content is going to be available, so try to find the best time to post for your audience, then stick to it! Maintaining a regular pattern of posting breeds familiarity and increases the chances of readers engaging with your brand.

Involve your audience

Content marketing has been through some dramatic changes lately, but the most significant developments have been in interactivity. Marketing is no longer a one-way channel. Today, it’s a bustling two-way street, where audience feedback can encompass anything from video testimonial to an open-forum discussion with the brand.

Social media has given a microphone to the audience, and the whole world can hear the Q&A session. This is a double-edged sword for companies. Encouraging synergy between consumer and brand can lead to a huge increase in the number of people talking about your brand, but it’s up to you to make sure it’s positive chatter.

Writing for your audience doesn’t have to be an explicit statement of what your company does. Creating compelling content on a subject related to your company, known as brand adjacency, can be a great way to generate buzz. If the content is of enough interest, your audience will debate, discuss and share it with like-minded individuals you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach. Not only does this give extra legs to your content, it establishes your brand as a thought leader in the field.

Tailor content to your audience’s needs

This means considering everything about your consumer’s browsing habits. What are the key issues in the industry today? Which social media channels does your audience use most? What vernacular do they use when searching? All of these considerations should play an integral role in deciding the kind of content you create, and when you make it available.

Great content should entice your audience not just to read on, but to read more about your company. Creating content that you know will fulfil a specific need for your industry massively increases the odds of it being shared between other thought leaders. There are hundreds of resources available online to give you a better understanding of the questions being asked in your industry.

Search sector-specific forums and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own. Likewise, Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers provide a treasure trove of insights into the topics dominating your industry. When you know the questions being asked, you can begin to formulate the answers people want to hear.

Corporate responsibility is big business

Content marketing is designed to catch public attention, but it’s also vital to mapping a brand’s corporate ethos. The latter has become increasingly relevant as audiences come to see brands as an extension of themselves.

Brands that identify their corporate values through their content can cultivate a lasting connection with their audience providing the content aligns with their personal beliefs. This doesn’t mean shouting every minor act of altruism from the rooftops, but if your company is doing some good in the community or abroad, it’s good marketing practice to let the world know. If your company is working with a charity, this provides even more in the way of inter-brand promotion opportunity. By coordinating the charity’s content marketing with your own, you ensure mutual benefits for both.

This is one of the few areas of content marketing that hasn’t been diluted by the growth in content marketers, as corporate responsibility becomes ever more intertwined with company identity. In fact, companies can now become champions of causes through their content, bringing an issue to the attention of their demographic while positioning themselves as a compassionate brand consumers are proud to be associated with.

Go beyond the blog

Content marketing covers a huge range of media and can encompass anything from a short supporting video to a podcast to a whitepaper in a respected publication. Who could forget the Lego movie, the first ever full-length studio film that also doubles as an exercise in content marketing? OK, so we’re not suggesting you opt for the full studio production, but content marketing doesn’t have to be limited to your own domain.

In fact, there are hundreds of non-conventional methods to get your brand noticed outside of your own website. Posting informed comments on other people’s posts, when not overtly ‘ad-oriented’, can point other readers to your own content. Likewise, answering questions through the aforementioned Quora can prove your credentials before a reader even knows about your company.

Including a link in your profile or occasionally alluding to your company in your answers (providing it’s relevant to the question) can raise your company’s profile while establishing a credible bond of trust between you and the audience.

In conclusion…

Content marketing is changing rapidly, but this shouldn’t be daunting. It means more opportunities for innovative content delivery are becoming available every day. 70% of B2B marketers created more content in 2015 than they did the year previous to that, and the first half of 2016 saw this number rise significantly again. There’s more competition for those top search results than ever before, but the payoffs are bigger in turn.

It’s never been more important to ensure your content is having the biggest impact possible. By staying abreast of all the latest technology, understanding your industry,and being willing to think outside the box, you can increase that impact and make a real difference to the future of your company.

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