Leader of the Pack

A long line of prognosticators (myself included) espoused the growing importance of content marketing in the lead up to 2013. In fact, many marketing pundits dubbed 2013 the “year of content marketing.”

True to those predictions, we saw the volume of content generated at an all-time high. This trend has continued through to today, pushing us to the verge of what Mark Schaefer dubbed content shock

It's time we accept the situation and figure out ways around it. Let’s look at some ways to get our content found, consumed and shared with so many distractions battling for your audience’s attention.

Go Long With Blogging

Only a few short years ago, the accepted standard for word count on a blog post was 500-600 words. The idea was that a higher quantity of posts would provide your website with the maximum number of pages / posts to rank organically.

Along that same line of thinking, industry chatter espoused the benefits of frequent blogging over in-depth analysis. So most “thought leaders” were recommending that we blog daily, and keep it short and sweet.

We like to experiment, so I tested it myself. After over a year of posting shorter, more frequent content, we switched to long-form — think 1,500+ words per blog post.

The results? Our traffic nearly tripled in less than eight months. Granted, we kept promoting the site, guest posting and more, but long form worked for getting our content found organically. 

Use Images to Your Advantage

Particularly with the growth of mobile searching and browsing, images have become a key to successful content marketing and earning of social shares.

Take advantage of images whenever you can. Always include at least one image with each key piece of content. Optimize it by including keywords in the image filename and alt-text. And be sure your website includes cards for the main social networks — that will grab the image and include it automatically when people share it.

Don’t overlook share-friendly image formats either, such as infographics and memes. If you can condense a complex message into a single image, or initiate an emotional response in people who see a meme, the likelihood of getting it shared and/or linked to increases exponentially.

Rich Media Pays Dividends

Whereas images are very important, you can really stand out by including rich media such as video content or interactive tools. Both of these formats are very share-friendly and can also help to earn links naturally.

Before you start posting videos on your site, be sure to properly optimize them. Build and send a video XML sitemap to Google Search Console (the new name for Google Webmaster Tools).

Richer media can really help move the needle from a traffic perspective. Take advantage of it if and when you can.

Same Content, Different Formats

Everyone likes to consume content differently. For some, reading is the best way to absorb it. Others want to watch a video. Still others may want to listen to a podcast while they drive.

If you are seeing too little return for your effort, try dabbling with other formats. You may find that your target audience simply wants the information delivered in a different manner.

Use Unique Data to Your Advantage

Do you have access to unique research or data that your target audience would be interested in reviewing? That’s a golden opportunity to rise above the din of content.

Research, especially when presented in an easy-to-digest format, can drive a ton of interest. No unique data on hand? Field a survey. Hire a market research team. Collect and assimilate data from multiple diverse sources to create something new. 

Anyone can do it, so start brainstorming how you might do the same.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In addition to creating unique data, multiple formats, etc., sometimes you just need to try something new. Sure, list posts that talk about the top 10 issues your target audience faces might work at times, but variety is key here.

How do you know what else to try? If it is new and uncomfortable, give it a fair look. Try conducting interviews and writing about them. Do a satire piece that will grab your target audience’s attention. Get guest contributors who already have a fan base. 

Sometimes the best way to perform above the norm is to take a fresh look at what you consider acceptable content. What can you do outside of your comfort zone to test a new approach? Go try it.

Get Help Promoting Your Content

One of the main reasons so many companies have an influencer engagement strategy is this — influencers who promote your content will help it spread like wildfire.

Of course, it’s not easy to get on the radar of a key influencer. You may need to start with second tier options. Or maybe you can get friends, family, customers and fans to do it early on. No matter which route you choose, be sure you are taking advantage of any third party promotion that is available to you.

Just Try It

Content reached the saturation point some time ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to stand out. Try some of these ideas, and take note of which seem to resonate with your audience. Then do more of it.

The winners in the content marketing game are the ones who are brave enough to try something new and remarkable. You can be one of those winners with an open mind and a strong work ethic.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  mr.skeleton 

Title image by mr.skeleton