If You Can Solely Decide One Factor to Focus On, Deal with Nice Content material
Which 3 would you choose?
For me, it's the barista, lunch and chocolate. Or maybe the WIFI.
The reason graphics like this are so damn annoying is that we want everything. Who is not currently tacitly validating internal arguments to justify a fourth selection? I got you, right?
Now for an even more difficult one.
Which 3 would you choose now?
I'll make it really easy for you: choose the content. Every time. Via the huge email list, the highly committed Facebook page, the endless paid budget that would enable endless views of your products.
Well, if you spin and trade, try to keep this unlimited paid budget.
But I will stand by my claim: Great content always wins.
I worked for many years as a content strategist at WeAreTeachers. WeAreTeachers is a resource media site for teachers, and after years of hard work, we had built what many would consider the ultimate trifecta of marketing: we had a huge, engaging social audience, a fast growing opt-in email, List and a website that is almost always on the first page of Google for our top keywords.
We were doing great, and that was reflected in our steadily increasing number. Day after day, week after week, month after month, our traffic, our social numbers and our lists grew slowly but steadily.
And then, in August 2018, one of our great authors uploaded a piece that changed everything.
We all knew the item was good from day one, but we didn't realize its size until a month or two later. The play was about lawnmower parents. You can remember it. It was eventually picked up by The Today Show, USA Today, Inc.com and hundreds of other media publications. In the fall of 2018, everything was spread across social media, the Internet and television.
My husband (a headmaster) came home from work one day with the printed article. “I printed it out for you to read after we talked about it in our staff meeting. It triggered a 20 minute conversation and I think you would be really interested. Maybe we can talk about it tonight after we put the kids to bed. "
I definitely rolled my eyes at him. "Do you see the URL for this article? Do you even know where I work? "
But I digress.
The point is that one piece of great content has exponentially increased our traffic, our social media numbers, our email list and everything. We went from slowly and steadily to exploding. Even with an unlimitedly paid budget, we couldn't have bought the traffic and list growth, and the social engagement we got from that one piece.
Furthermore, we were able to divide the content of this one piece into at least 20 other pieces in order to reach our audience on a deeper level. These new pieces kept the traffic going for years and continued to drive new users of our content and new sales for our agency.
I'm definitely not saying that the other marketing components don't matter (after all, I'll let you choose three), but I'll say one thing:
Great content always wins.
Don't be a satisfied Tommy Tutone …
Before you get started on creating your content masterpiece, let me remind you not to be Tommy Tutone.
Who is tommy tutone?
Does a bell ring 867-5309?
Most people around the world know this 7-digit number sequence … although very few of us know the name of the singer who sang this famous song. The same goes for the companies behind other great content. You may remember ideas, components, and parts of great content that you read, but you only really remember the brand behind that content if that brand creates great content regularly, regularly, and on purpose.
It’s difficult to create great content. It's even harder to create great content that people read and share and then want to read more. And while you may be tempted to put your heart, soul, and mind into creating that perfect content, don't.
Nobody buys CDs, T-shirts or posters from Tommy Tutone.
This one-hit wonder of a song just gave him a one-hit wonder.
No singing career, no brand, no fortune.
The same applies to you and your content. Yes, you should create great content. But before you do that, create a content strategy and then a content empire that will enable your content creators to really delve into and create parts that are meaningful and powerful.
Because while in the rollercoaster business world it can bring you good, solid traction of one or two great pieces for a time, it means that you spend your entire monthly ad budget on a paid ad.
In the long run, it doesn't do much for your brand.
Great content strategies are not easy.
At WeAreTeachers we had this one content that changed the company. We also had hundreds of other pieces that did great things for us – gathered millions of page views and gathered hundreds of thousands of followers. But we also created hundreds (okay, thousands) of great content that produced noisy results. Pieces in which authors, video producers and designers have put their heart and soul to generate hundreds of pageviews instead of millions.
Still, some parts blew up the internet … and some just disappeared with barely a pageview.
A great content strategy consistently attracts an audience, engages them and makes them want more. But the key word is there consequent.
One day it doesn't jump into the blogosphere and bubbles out.
Instead, companies that choose to be great in terms of content are great in content every day. Always.
How exactly do I create a great content strategy?
Note: It is not a search engine optimization.
Yes, I said it.
I know that at DigitalMarketer we have been saying for years that SEO is a key to generating organic traffic for content marketing. And we'll stand by this claim: SEO is important. But you shouldn't start here. Instead, you should be done here.
A few years ago I tried to hire an author to create content. A freelancer (we call him Daniel) submitted a resume claiming he could "produce more than 20 keyword-rich content every week." I was fascinated. I called Daniel for an interview and asked him to bring a selection of pieces with me.
When Daniel arrived, he was confident and convincing. He explained that his writing process involved finding highly interesting keywords and writing pieces that these keywords used in different ways to increase SEO value. It all sounded great.
I asked him to show me a sample.
Now I obviously haven't copied his work, but it was similar:
A good content strategy is a great way to create good content. You start with a good content strategy and then decide how to create good content. Your strategy should start with some ideas for creating good content and then develop into a process that you can use to implement your strategy for good content.
Needless to say, Daniel didn't get the job.
But there was a time when writers like Daniel were in high demand. Back in the early days of internet content (around the same time that I had to go to school uphill in the snow), back when Myspace was ruling social networks, and back when the back-end tools on Livejournal.com came second , Marketers, and business owners started paying attention to blog content. Around this time, Google started paying attention to keywords.
Around this time, writers like Daniel began to improve their ability to write keyword-rich content. The authors researched the top ranked keywords for their topic and then did their best to incorporate the keywords in their writing in a way that encouraged search engine optimization.
At that time, increasing search engine optimization meant repetition, repetition, repetition.
Which resulted in a whole host of content that was rich in keywords but had poor value.
Basically, Google loved the articles, but not the readers.
And so writers had to develop. They had to learn to weave key words in history and history into tactical writing and tactical writing into coherent, powerful pieces.
So back to the original question: how do you get great content? The answer: get great writers. Great content creators write, write, and write more. Then they read books and articles written by great writers, and then, as you guessed, write more.
Anyone can write like Daniel – no, really, find a 12 year old from the street and ask him to write a paragraph about the content strategy, and I guarantee that his paragraph sounds exactly like Daniel's. Maybe a little better.
But great writers … well, they write like no other, but refer to almost everyone. They take up ideas, key words and current events and turn them into stories that people want to read again and again.
Great writers turn words into magic. Oh, and this magic? They turn it into money, traffic, conversions, brand advertising, and more.
So, so much, much more: If you have great writers who create great content, you can work on splitting that content into more content, ultimately creating content clusters, and strengthening your SEO credibility so you can rank on Google .
But start with the good content.
The rest will come later.
Then does anyone know of great writers?
If you want to create great content, you have to invest in it.
Have you seen how I literally valued great writers over an unlimited budget? I really believe that a great writer is worth a fortune. That means you have two options if you want great content creators:
- Hire them and pay them what they're worth
- Train them to be great (oh, and then pay them what they're worth)
For a few weeks, I listened to a podcast that featured the team behind the Morning Brew newsletter. They talked about how to hire writers. Their process begins with a writing pattern – they don't care how much experience the candidate has, what publication background he has and where he worked before. Every single writer starts at eye level and is judged on one thing: how well he can write a simple piece with 150 words.
I love it.
The 12-year-old has the same chance as the multiple published author.
And the author, who has been published several times, has to show his skills regardless of how many advanced degrees he has.
As soon as I heard about this task, I had my team of authors here at DigitalMarketer do the same job. Not because I tried to hire new writers, but because I wanted them to practice being great writers. For the task, I asked her to get relevant marketing or business-related content from the Internet … and then explain it for 150 interesting, talkative and tactical words.
It sounds simple. It is not.
But while I'm working on it, I've already seen my writers grow.
All that was said: The first step to developing great writers is to let them write. A lot of.
In my first writing job, I worked for a large media company. It was big – Midtown New York, lots of writers, lots of editors, lots of red ink. We had to write a piece there almost every day. Half of these pieces were rejected. Half was torn down by the editors. But the bottom line? We only published good content.
The same applies to you and your authors: write.
Next up: reading.
I've never met a great writer who doesn't read. Your content team should not only read books on the craft of writing, but also books on marketing, books on business, and books on everything else under the sun.
Great writers read.
Another tip to help writers become better writers is to let them read viral articles. Do not let them analyze the articles based on the content, but based on the writing. Let them try to find out why this article was so great.
There are hundreds of other tips on how to train great writers, but we'll leave it at that: Great writers aren't born. Great writers don't just happen. Great writers are working on it.
So if you want to write great content, help your authors be great.
It takes time.
It takes effort.
But it's worth it.
My authors are great! Does that mean I won in content marketing?
So you have great writers, great ideas and a great product. You have the Trifecta, right?
There is a small (okay, huge) problem: the content-consuming world is moody.
Content consumers – especially marketing and business content – are very savvy. They know what they are talking about and what works. They also want cutting-edge tactical content that will help them be better marketers, sellers, and business leaders.
So it's not enough to have great writers.
It's not enough to have great ideas for content.
You also have a content strategy that gives your team what they need – training, process, and marketing expertise so they can always create great, thought-provoking, tactical content.
This content strategy varies from team to team and from business to business.
At DigitalMarketer, our content strategy starts with the 12-week strategy. As soon as we have roughly planned our 12 "weeks", we use Trello to keep our editorial calendar up to date. From there we have a team of authors who work on the basis of these guidelines on timely, tactical and easily readable content.
The key here is that they don't just write parts to check boxes on the calendar.
Instead, we let them use the calendar as a guide and create really great pieces from there, influenced by current trends, best practices for marketing, as well as personal experience and expertise.
Then we split these parts into other parts. Pieces that go deeper into the subject.
This strategy worked for us. However, we don't want to say that this is the only perfect content strategy, and we guarantee that you will get a viral post every 46 days if you follow our 126-step plan.
Because if we said that, we would be lying.
The content strategy is much more difficult to set than other things like paid budget, an email list, or even social media because it depends so much on what the reader is referring to.
A strategy that works perfectly for one company at the same time may not work for another company at all. Likewise, the strategy that worked for us in 2020 could no longer work in 2021.
I know I'm a little evasive here. I basically told you that you have to invest in great content and that the way to do that is to invest in authors and in a content strategy.
But I haven't given you a proven tactic.
And I haven't given you a perfect plan or a perfect game book.
Not because I don't want to – if I could find a surefire way to guarantee viral content, I would be rich.
I am not giving you a precise plan because there is none.
The best content strategies are extremely thoughtful and deliberate, at the same time moving and flexible. These strategies include authors who are happy, love marketing, and enjoy writing. Editors ready to push writers to do more, make changes, and dig deep. And executives need to be willing to invest in training authors, marketers, and editors to ensure that content is as good as possible.
We plan to write a lot more about the content strategy in the coming weeks (see “fragmented content”). We plan to share tactics to train authors, create a content calendar, and create a content strategy that is appropriate for viral content.
At the moment, however, we're giving you an easy task: If you want to create great content, start with a great author and then follow a great content strategy. Invest in content.
We promise that this is more valuable for your company than hiring a barista on site. (But man, it would be nice if my double mocha cappuccino were hot and ready for me every day when I arrive at the office.)