By Sophie Turton
In this increasingly connected world it’s possible for businesses to engage with their target market like never before. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to create content that customers and potential customers can relate to and interact with. Stories endure and with the right message, you can use content as a tool to reach more people, build brand identity and grow your business.
1. Define your objectives
First analyse the type of content already being used by your competitors and other similar brands. Think about how effective this is, what works best and what is superfluous. This will help you build a platform for your own content strategy.
Content comes in many forms – podcast, articles, informal blog posts, social media updates, videos, infographics and more – and the marketplace is full of brands competing with one another to be ever more unique and engaging. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Using social media and web analytics, you will be able to effectively measure the success of different campaigns and use these results to develop future strategies that are designed to answer the needs of your customer.
2. Establish a tone and style
Establishing a tone is all part of building the initial brand identity – the more you understand your message, the more effectively this will be portrayed to your target audience. Your tone and style should be consistent throughout all content, including videos, images and articles. The objective is to create a solid brand that people can relate to, even without seeing the logo, and content that people will be proud to engage with.
3. Build a community around your brand
Social media provides the perfect platform from which to build a community around your brand and gives you with easy access to your audience. Through use of social media, you can target content to specific demographics and learn more about what your audience want and what they best engage with and why.
It is becoming increasingly common for companies to build sister sites with the purpose of building a community that can then feed into the business. We created freelance advisor 18 months before the launch of the official Crunch brand. The sister site offers freelancers lots of useful content, such as accounting advice, marketing tips and ‘how-to’ guides. By the time Crunch launched its services, the site was getting thousands of views a month and had hundreds of subscribers. This provided us with a ready-made list of high quality leads and a user base that had already developed trust in the brand.
4. Focus on engagement
Great content marketing isn’t about promoting your product or service, it’s about providing a platform for engagement. This should be an integral part of every campaign you run and every article you write. What will your audience gain from this and how will they interact with it?
Engaging people means being aware of what they already share, what they are interested in and why. Make it easy for them to participate in the community by creating multiple entry points. Do your research and find out which social media sites your customers and desired customers use the most. Different social networks attract different audiences, so you will want to focus on ones that suit your targets.
You can then identify the community’s most influential members – i.e. those that have a large number of followers themselves – and develop strong relationships with them. This is a great way to get endorsements over social media for your business from third parties. Be warned, though, they can also be a heavily impacting source of bad press if something goes wrong.
Finally, sending out a monthly newsletter via email can help engage those who haven’t had a chance to visit the site that week and will also encourage others to go back to see what they’ve missed.
5. Quality is key
You are only as good as the content you produce. It’s important to produce shareable content that’s either useful, entertaining, informative, or preferably a combination of the three. The more times that your articles get shared around social media sites, the more publicity you get for your brand.
You need to have a good understanding of your audience and their needs. That’s where quality plays a large part. Writing about stuff that is interesting to you doesn’t guarantee anyone else will read it. Find out what your customers want to know, then give that knowledge to them.
About the author
Sophie Turton is the assistant editor at online accountancy firm Crunch.