Content marketing: Everyone’s doing it these days. But what separates effective content marketing from not-so-great content marketing? Influence and authority.
Content can be an excellent way to establish your brand as an authority or thought leader in your industry. But producing influential content means more than throwing together a blog post and calling it a day. Here are 10 steps to take to build influence with content marketing.
1) Look at Content That’s Succeeded in the Past
Some forms of content marketing are more successful than others. The 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE) asked a group of consumers in the US what types of content they thought were the most effective. According to the survey, the following were the most effective:
- Written review or article on an online consumer review website
- Brand-sponsored article on an online website
- Brand-sponsored article in a printed newspaper
The SOCE’s findings are supported by research from Nielsen. According to the 2015 Global Trust in Advertising survey, online reviews and editorial content were two of the most trusted forms of advertising. The single most trusted form of advertising was recommendations from family or friends.
2) Know Why You’re Creating Content
Before you start creating content, you need to understand why you’re creating it. “Because everyone else is doing it” isn’t a good reason.
You want to have a specific reason in mind before you start producing content. This reason will inform every decision you make about what you write or create. One “why” for creating content might be to establish or define your brand’s identity with consumers. Another “why” might be to act as a resource for your audience. Finally, another “why” could be to build up your brand’s presence online.
3) Know Your Goals for Your Content
What do you want your content to accomplish? Knowing that will help you position your brand as a major influencer or leader in your field. Content or a content strategy that has no plan or goals won’t be particularly effective. If there’s no goal attached to the goal, there’s no way to know what it’s doing or who it is affecting.
Make your goals for your content SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. A good example of a SMART goal is to have 50 people click through to your site and make a purchase within one month of the blog post going live.
4) Know Your Audience
If you ask content creators what their criteria are for choosing which brands to work with (which the SOCE did), one of the big concerns is that their audience will find the content interesting or relevant.
Think of it this way: If you don’t know who you’re addressing, you’ll have no way of knowing what type of content will appeal to them, what tone to take, or what topics to cover. Putting together buyer personas, which contain the age range, interests, and other details of your target audience, lets you figure out who you’re speaking to and how to do it.
5) Know What You’re Talking About
According to the SOCE, there are three keys that make content more effective. One is the credibility of the creator, another is experience with the product, and the third is respect from followers (or an audience).
When your brand publishes any type of content, it’s absolutely critical that you know the content’s subject matter well, and that you come off as experts in or incredibly knowledgeable about what you’re discussing.
6) Focus on Telling a Story
What brings people in and gets them to keep reading or watching a piece of content? An engaging story. The human brain is often unable to tell the difference between reading a story and experiencing a real-life event, the “New York Times” reported. Fast Company pointed out that a great story can actually change the way people think and act.
If you want content that compels people to act, you better have a story.
7) Have Authority Figures Produce or Contribute to the Content
When producing content, it’s often not enough to know what you’re talking about. Having a famous (or at least somewhat well-known) name attached to the content boosts its authority.
According to the SOCE, “Content Marketing becomes even more credible when the authoring source is recognized or identified as a subject matter expert.” The more influential your content creator is, the more influential your content will be.
8) Get Influencers on Board With Your Content
Another way to build authority or thought leadership with your content is to have influencers share it or promote it. If you have someone who’s an expert or respected in the field sharing your content, people are going to pay attention.
9) Keep It Relevant
The content you produce should be relevant to your brand and your audience. The SOCE found that consumers in the US and Canada engaged often with content they found personally relevant.
10) Interact With Readers
Sometimes, people reading your content might have questions or things to say. They might leave comments asking questions or providing more information. It’s a good idea to respond to those comments. Answering any questions you are asked will further cement your reputation as an authority or thought leader on the subject.
If you respond to a comment in a positive way, it also makes the reader more likely to respect you, and to trust and value what you have to say.