Presenting the first of many expert insights from Southerly’s newest addition, Tor Goldfield, our Senior Content Strategist. A specialist in the B2B and educational spaces with experience from agency and client-side, Tor comes from marketing and PR pedigree, and has been embroiled in the rapid evolution of this world since before digital content was even a ‘thing’. She’s about to embark on her MSc in Marketing Communications. Tor outlines the recipe for mouth-watering content success. Dee-lish.
Creating content that people will want to engage with and share is much like cooking a tasty meal. Take a handful of good quality ingredients, mix them together in the right way at the right time and, hey presto, you’ll end up with something that tickles people’s taste buds.
There’s no big secret when it comes to the essential ingredients of effective content. As a content manager, you want to inform, inspire or entertain. Every piece must be carefully planned and interrogated to ensure it’s relevant and reflective of the business in question and the target audience.
Yes, some companies still have a bit of work to do in that respect, but as marketers we’re all aware that we need to be producing content that delivers genuine value. The days of what I call marketing ‘sleight of hand’ – activity that’s designed to dazzle and lure customers with shiny promises – are well and truly over.
So far, so good.
As we all know, getting the basics right doesn’t always mean that the end product will take the world by storm. You might have done your homework and constructed a piece of content that meets those criteria, but instead of generating an impressive buzz it merely fizzles, attracting little attention and failing to fulfil its true potential.
Let’s talk about the V word
Until the dawn of social media, going viral was generally something to be avoided. Now it’s the holy grail of content marketing. “How can I make my content go viral?” is a question I’ve been asked more times than I can count.
Becoming the next internet sensation isn’t always the most achievable objective and, to be honest, it isn’t always relevant either, particularly for a B2B organisation. Targeting a niche audience with a sincere or complex message doesn’t generally scream viral. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim high when it comes to distributing your content. You want to get it in front of as many of the right people as you can, whether that’s clients and customers, investors, potential employees or industry influencers who can help add credibility and reach.
That’s why shareability and amplification are key factors of any content marketing plan. Along with working out what you want to say, it pays to think about how to generate the biggest impact and maximise that all-important return on investment (download our whitepaper on ROI here, or using the link below).
Every piece must be carefully planned and interrogated to ensure it’s relevant and reflective
This is where you need a reliable recipe. It’s all about how and when to combine the ingredients of a content marketing strategy to get those appetising results, and last week I spotted an article that did just that.
“Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 million Articles Taught Us” by BuzzSumo features ten tips for increasing the shareability of content based on real, measurable data.
The article reveals what type of content gets the most shares – from the ideal length and format to the number of images – and when and how to ensure it’s seen by the most people.
Shorter isn’t better
I was hooked from point one. Turns out, long-form content gets more social shares than short-form content. That’s surprising. We hear constantly that people are time-poor and easily distracted, and that as a society we want things to be immediate and easy to digest. This advice seems to go against the grain.
Which is where the data comes in to back up the claim.
BuzzSumo analysed the top 10% most shared articles from the past eight months and found that, when it comes to written content, longer is definitely better, with articles between 3,000 and 10,000 words attracting the most shares. In other words there’s a healthy appetite for robust, intellectually stimulating content, which is great news for B2B marketers. More to the point, it’s because of our time-poor digital society that there’s comparatively less long-form content around, so it’s actually easier to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re not doing so already, then it might be time to include some weightier pieces in your content plan, making sure to measure how they’re performing against your other activity.
Re-promote, re-promote, re-promote
The other piece of advice that really stood out to me was around re-promotion. It’s easy to be led off track by the idea that you need a busy marketing pipeline that’s full of fresh, new content.
Yes, you need to keep up with the latest news and trends, and a proportion of your content marketing should be reactive, but it’s just as important to have a solid foundation of pieces that cover the big, perennial issues in your industry. And once you have that evergreen content you shouldn’t be shy to promote it over an extended period of time.
BuzzSumo’s analysis found that, three days after a piece of content has been published on a social channel, the number of shares drops by at least 96% over the next four days. After that first week, sharing activity typically drops by a further 86%. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The BuzzSumo data showed that certain pieces of content buck the trend by acquiring significantly more interactions over time, and the secret lies in re-promotion. If you originally post something on a Thursday or a Friday (typically quieter days in terms of resharing), then why not re-promote it on Monday and Tuesday when people are statistically more likely to take notice? Similarly, you should look for opportunities to reinvigorate older content, such as tying it in with industry events or relevant breaking news.
Interestingly, this particular article was first published in 2014 but only came across my horizon this week thanks to someone sharing it on Twitter, which shows that strong content stands the test of time.
Basically, make your content work as hard as possible for as long as possible.
Long-form content gets more social shares
More tips for shareability success
The rest of the article contains similarly insightful advice so, rather than me précising it here, why not read the original piece in all its glory.
Of course, sometimes you can follow a recipe to the letter and the end result can still be a little lacklustre. This is where a professional hand can make all the difference. If your content marketing isn’t quite hitting the mark it might be worth bringing someone in who can help you take things to the next level and produce Michelin-quality content that achieves the desired results.