Creating Content People Actually Want to Read
Question: When everyone has a blog, how do you make your content stand out?
Answer: Don’t write a blog.
OK, it’s not that simple (and we clearly don’t have anything against blogs — you’re reading one right now). But mixing up your content program format (e.g., short videos, infographics, podcasts) can create a wider reach by delivering content the way your audience wants to absorb it. Of course, watching a short video isn’t going to be impactful if the content isn’t relevant to the audience. So you also need to make sure the content you’re creating “speaks” to your audience and makes your message stand out from the rest.
Creating Ideas with a Brain-Hurricane
Sometimes a great idea for a content piece can pop into your head at the most unexpected time — running errands, playing fetch with your dog, at 3 a.m. while you’re trying to get back to sleep. Yep, these have all happened to us. But most of the time, developing topics for a content program requires planning, research and teamwork.
Our first step in developing content ideas is usually a team brainstorm — really a brain-hurricane. Rather than a quick and spontaneous brain dump, we spend time developing our ideas, gradually building and strengthening a list that culminates into a team meeting to swirl our ideas around.
And “team” in this case means more than just the content team. We ask for input from everyone involved in the project, including our clients and our digital, social, public relations and SEO teams. Everyone brings their ideas to the table and then the content team narrows down the best contenders to present back to the client.
Shhh, We’re Social Listening
An important part of developing content ideas is research — what topics are trending, what people are talking about, what’s worked well in the past, what’s relevant to the timing of the content piece. One method we often use is social listening, particularly when we’re writing consumer-based content. We use social listening to gauge what’s being talked about in the industry and leverage the chatter from competitors, news sources and across the web to create content topic suggestions for our clients.
Being at One with the Audience
It’s the nature of working in an agency that the content team will be asked to write about a broad range of topics (it’s a perk of the job!). Woodruff’s clients represent an array of industries — from pet nutrition to agriculture to animal health to equipment filtration — and it takes skill to produce meaningful and relevant content that’s specific for each client’s audience.
We do this by understanding our clients, their industries and their customers. We know who our clients’ audiences are, what their challenges are and the content they want to view. We also know how to talk to them. Content written for a pet parent is going to have an entirely different tone from content developed for a veterinarian or an engine manufacturer. And if you’re a really good content creator, you can develop content that resonates with people outside the target audience. In fact, we recently had a Woodruff teammate comment that they love reading the pet nutrition blogs we write — they find them insightful and fascinating even though they don’t own a pet!
Think Outside the Blog
When the words “content program” are mentioned, blogs are often the first thing that comes to mind. However, as useful and impactful as they are (or can be, depending on whether we wrote them or not!), there are plenty of other formats that can and should be used as part of a content program. Not everyone wants (or has time) to read a thousand words. So turn those words into a 90-second video. Or a printable checklist. The content you produce needs to resonate with your audience, but so does the delivery method. There’s nothing worse than writing a Pulitzer Prize-worthy blog that doesn’t get read because your audience prefers videos.
If you do use blogs as your main content format, you can add some flavor to the mix with infographics. They’re a great way to highlight the most important information in an easily digestible manner, especially if there are a bunch of numbers or facts in the content. Plus, the infographic can be easily repurposed for social media posts.
Another method for (literally) broadcasting your message is the podcast. Podcasts can be a great way to directly deliver your content to people who choose to listen to them and are genuinely interested in your brand (or are at least curious about it). Check out our recent post to learn more about podcasts and how they could fit into your content program.
Panel discussions can be an effective way to reach your audience with relevant content that isn’t in-your-face messaging. Woodruff recently hosted a distinguished panel of ag innovators to discuss the importance of “Advancing Agriculture Through Innovation.” The panel was a great opportunity for the participants to showcase their expertise and their passion for agriculture.
Milk It for All It’s Worth (and More!)
If you’ve already spent a significant amount of time developing one piece of content, why not use your hard work to create multiple pieces? An interview for a podcast can easily become a blog post, which can become a series of social posts. This creates a unified message that reaches your audience — however they want to be reached. Also, think about how a series of related posts can be melded together to form a new piece of content: for example, a brochure on the topic or a how-to-guide.
Optimizing Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of making sure people find the content you’ve worked so hard to produce. But so is reading a blog that is clear and concise and not filled with “relevant” search terms. A balance of SEO and readability is key.
We have an amazing SEO team, but we also know that we can make their job much easier if the content is great to begin with. If the content is good, meaning that it does its job and conveys the right message to the right audience, the SEO team can focus more on optimizing and less on “fixing.”
You can do anything with content marketing. The problem is, you can literally do anything with content marketing. The challenge is finding the right thing to do. Effective content that resonates with an audience delivers the right information in the right format. And finding that sweet spot between topic and delivery method is what we do best. If you’d like us to help develop unexpected ideas for your content program — find that sweet spot — give us a call.