8 changes to make your content more engaging

With the plethora of articles, videos and images created and posted online each day, PR and marketing pros must fight to be heard. Here’s how you can grab attention.

More than 2 million blogs are posted every day, and 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

It can’t all be great.

So, how do we create a content strategy that cuts through the noise? How do we generate content that excites and inspires our audience? Most important, how do we use that content to generate sales, revenue and customers?

Here’s how:

1. Start by asking why.

Before you even open Word and start typing, ask yourself why you’re writing.

Too much content is produced without consideration for its purpose. What will this piece of content achieve? Why is this content so important?

Is it to convince your target audience of your skills and acumen? Is it to sell a product? Is it to generate more traffic for your website? Or do you just want to get something off your chest?

By answering these questions, you’ll give your content purpose and focus. That means you’ll create better content.

2. Tell a story.

You don’t have to come up with the next Harry Potter, but try weaving stories into your content.

Stories are infectious. They keep us reading; they intrigue us. For example, which blog title would you click on:

1. Why I quit my job to start a jewelry business (and made it work)

2. How to start a jewelry business?

You’d choose the former. They’re basically the same piece of content, but the first has a story.

Also, a story gives your brand a human side, making it more relatable. Check out how Airbnb use stories from its community as a core part of its content.

3. Start recycling.

Good content should take hours or even days to create. Don’t waste it with just a blog post.

Use the scraps for a podcast or a video. Take the key bits of data, and turn them into an infographic. Host a webinar or a live chat.

Recycling content gives you multiple chances to use your research and insights.

4. Go live.

Live streaming is too important to ignore. Facebook has altered its algorithm to prioritize live streams, and Snapchat and Twitter have made live, instant video a core part of their platforms.

If you’re not coming up with live streaming ideas for your business, you’re missing out on the fastest growing content element of 2017.

Don’t worry if you don’t like appearing on camera. Denny’s ran a live-streamed Q&A with an animated pancake, and 11,000 people watched it.

5. Deliver it faster.

It’s easy to get creative with content ideas. However, don’t forget about the tech aspects.

Speed matters when it comes to showing off your content. If you’re curious about how fast your website server responds, check out the speed checker at Bitcatcha. You might want to prioritize speed after seeing your results.

6. Embrace native advertising.

For the uninitiated, native advertising is advertising that blends into the content you produce. For example, National Geographic might publish a piece about the Canadian Rockies, but it’s paid for (and sponsored by) the Canada tourism board.

It might feel like you’re selling your soul, but it’s neater and less intrusive than banner ads or popups, and it generates direct income from content.

7. Start using data and analytics.

Yes, it’s boring, but it will help you see your content strategy much more clearly.

Look at which content is working. What generates the most clicks? What content is shared most often? Which stories generated the longest time on site? Which drove conversions to your products?

Identify what’s working, and do more of it. Ditch the ideas that don’t hit the mark.

Next, get deep into your audience analytics. Who are your readers? Determine their location, demographics and interests. You can mine all this data through Google Analytics and social media metrics. Find this information, and use it to create better content.

8. Double your promotional time and efforts.

Too many content marketers are still focusing on quantity over quality. Pumping out hundreds of blog posts is not a content strategy. Generating engagement is.

Josh Althuser is an entrepreneur with background in design, marketing and M&A. He’s also a developer, open source advocate and designer. Connect with him on Twitter: @JoshAlthuser.

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