1. Adopt an editorial mindset
Not all brands can produce content prolifically like the fashion brand ASOS or the American footwear company Converse. But every brand can adopt an editorial approach, like in the way the drinks brand Innocent does or Unilever’s soap brand Dove does. They are not publishers, yet the way they use words and images on their packaging (Innocent) or how they use real-life experiences and people in their adverts (Dove) is akin to having an editorial line or approach. Editorial teams are trained to put people at the heart of the story and similarly these brands are taking this approach too. Marketing strategies that invite the public in to be part of the story have better engagement with their customers and benefit from higher profiles too.
2. Create content with empathy
Content marketer Doug Kessler created a great SlideShare which has been seen by more than 1.5 million people all about what he termed ‘Crap Content’. In it, he said one of the worst things a marketer can do is create content that lacks empathy. By that he meant, content that shows no understanding of the target audience or what they want. This kind of content is useless. Team that with content that lacks imagination (something that’s clearly been rehashed or states what everyone already knows) as well content that doesn’t serve a purpose (it doesn't help the reader do anything, it just pushes an agenda) and you’ve got Crap content. Who wants to produce that? Not us.
3. Get inside the mind of your customers
There’s no one ‘right’ way to create engaging content. The best kind of content comes from knowing what your audience wants. It’s customer centric. It answers questions. It makes them feel like they’ve been understood. You don’t need to be a particularly brilliant writer to do that, but you do need to get inside the head of your customers. Put them at the centre of all the content you create. Then take a look at what your competition are doing, and do something different. Be original. Capture your potential customer’s eye and imagination so you can stand out from the deluge of content now being published on the net.
4. Stop talking about yourself
The golden rule of content marketing is to not talk about yourself, but to find out what your audience wants to know and to create content that answers their issues. So, before you create any more content, start with writing a mission statement along the lines of: my audience is _____. They need to know about _______. This will help them to ______. This approach will help to give the content on your website or blog a clearer focus. A good content strategy will aim to gradually build up relevant content on your website. This will give people a reason to subscribe to a newsletter, a reason to follow you/your company in a social stream and more importantly a reason to come back again (plus keeps you high up in the organic search rankings). Keep any information about the corporate side of your business, such as executive biogs and press releases, to the ‘About Us’ section.
5. Create social-first content
Finland’s national broadcasting company YLE (the BBC equivalent) has abandoned its traditional editorial methods in favour of a new style of news reporting, social-first. It’s made the bold move to reflect the fact that this is increasingly where most of their audience now access the ‘news’. At the start of 2015 it launched YLE Kioski with the aim of experimenting with social reporting to reach audiences on a variety of channels, and their results have been fantastic. In June the editorial team created a film specifically for its YouTube channel titled, “I’m HIV Positive, do you dare touch me?” It featured a Finnish HIV positive suffer Janne Antin standing in a bustling central Helsinki park next to a sign, ‘I’m HIV positive. Touch me!’ Barely using the spoken word the film documented the public’s reaction to Antin and his response. The piece of content went viral. It attracted almost six million viewers (surpassing Finland’s population of 5.4m) and was syndicated on the BBC, BuzzFeed and The Independent. YLE Kioski could have easily done a traditional face to face Q&A broadcast interview with Antin and published it on their news site, but they would have got nowhere near the national and international engagement with that format.