One of the common mistakes with content marketing is that the audience isn’t always considered when hitting that publish button.
Content marketing isn’t primarily about SEO, social media, branding or PR goals – it should be about the audience.
For SEO you want to generate natural links & social signals – for social/PR the content needs to be sharable and create a buzz and for branding it needs to provide context and be memorable.
But without an audience, you won’t achieve any of those goals or key metrics anyway. Especially if you want to do things in a natural way for maximum impact – so you need to be hitting all of these goals – not just one of them.
Why do people share content?
The important word here is “people”, you really need to get into the mindset of why they would share content:
1. It’s interesting/insightful
2. It’s from a brand they love
3. Social validation – making them look knowledgeable
4. It’s funny/entertaining
5. There’s an incentive
I think there’s a huge amount we can learn from looking at content strategy like this. Before publishing content, you should really think about what purpose it has and how your users are likely to react to it.
So how do you approach content curation?
1) Learn what content works
Your best tool for content strategy is often your own sites analytics package. It sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked, and there’s so much you can learn about your audience from this. So analyse visitor numbers, engagement, social signals etc for your top pages – and then find where you can write similar content, or even update/repurpose old content.
2) Analyse competitors
Analyse competitors to find content gaps, different angles and keyword opportunities.
3) Be creative
Find what type of content works outside of written blog posts, whether it’s infographics, videos, surveys/polls, interviews, quizzes etc. It helps to mix things up – and if that’s what your audience likes, do more of it!
4) Find out where they hang out
Encourage your readers to follow you on Twitter/Facebook so that you can connect with them outside of your own site. And use tools such as Google AdPlanner to find out which other sites and blogs your users visit, then you can approach them for guest writing opportunities.
5) Even better, meet them in person!
All of my best connections are quite easily people I’ve met in person. And it’s no co-incidence, so find out which events/meetups they go to and head along. Not sure where they go? Take it further, start your own – these are all potential brand advocates and sneezers who can be invaluable towards building your brand.
6) Write as if you’re talking to one person
Write as if you’re talking to one person who is your target audience, if you want to write something that you want to be shared by Mashable, for example, think about the type of content their readers like to see. Also, some of my best posts have come from trying to help out a single person and hoping it’s also useful to a wider audience – and to my surprise, quite often it is!
7) Provide answers to common questions
Searchers like to perform informational queries, so take your keyword research to the next level and help them out by answering their questions. That way you get the traffic! Use the WordTracker question keyword tool for help too.
8) Be topical
Use tools such as Google Trends and SEO gadget’s content strategy generator to help find topical keyword opportunities that you can write about. But be quick – being first is vital, and if you’re not, you need to at least provide a different angle to stand out.
I hope those all help – but if you have any other techniques I’d be keen to hear them in the comments.
Kevin Gibbons is a leading authority on search marketing in the UK. He regularly speaks at major conferences such as SES, SMX and A4U Expo, writes for Econsultancy, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land, plus he has been featured in publications including The Guardian, Techcrunch and The Drum. He is founder of Blueglass UK.