As a society, we’re more socially connected than ever before. We’re not only craving more content, we’ve come to expect it. As a result, we’re all competing for a seat at the table of influence, and now, those random “nice-to-haves” are beginning to look a lot more like “need-to-haves.”
Let’s talk about what I consider to be the ultimate content marketing need-to-have: the blog.
“But, like, everyone has a blog, right?” That could be, but how do we know if these blogs are actually adding value? In this era of connectivity, there is nothing more important than brand identity. Social media, paired with earned media, has made it increasingly more difficult for even the biggest brands to remain in full control their identities. Now, owned media – websites, social media outlets and, of course, a blog – are more valuable than ever before, and a well-constructed blog not only provides an opportunity to communicate directly with audiences, but an opportunity to do so authentically and strategically. So, how can you ensure your brand blog is a valuable resource for your target audiences? Start by executing these four key concepts:
Plain and simple: your audience is everything. Without them, a blog is nothing more than words on a screen. With that in mind, it’s imperative you write for your audience, not to your audience. If you think about it, it’s pretty likely your audience’s interests align closely to yours and therefore, they’re probably coming to you looking for answers, insight or inspiration. Consider approaching each post like a conversation topic. What questions might your audience have in regards to the topic? What do you know now about this topic that you wish you had known 10 years ago? Your blog content should be a consistent resource, and to make that happen you’ll want to ensure your content is adding valuable perspective.
Think of these as your version of a “buy one, get one free” offer. Hyperlinking is a natural way to add additional value for your readers. It’s likely the interests of readers who follow your blog align closely with what your brand has to offer and hyperlinking to outside content is a strategic way to engage in knowledge sharing and develop a more mutually beneficial relationship with them.
Bloggers often underestimate the value of a title. Did you know 80% of readers don’t actually make it past the title? There’s a lot of content competing for a lot less eyeballs, so you’ll have to truly think like your readers to capture and maintain their attention. This is arguably the hardest part about blogging, because all your hard work is really at the mercy of a pesky 50-ish character title. For those times when you’re struggling to come up with a catchy title, consider leaning on numbers, adjectives, questions or trigger words (why, how, etc.) descriptive of what’s answered within the content to prompt your readers to click in further. For example, “3 Simple Ways to Seriously Increase Your Social Following.”
Imagine you’ve written a brilliant title, you’ve captured your readers’ attention, and BAM! The post loads and it looks more like an essay than a blog post. Game over. Make no mistake about it, today’s content consumers are demanding easily digestible content, and if you can’t provide it, they’ll find another resource that can. You don’t necessarily have to write less, – a typical blog post runs around 1,500 words – but you do have to at least make readers feel as if they’re reading less than they are. Incorporating bullets, headings and videos/photos are just a few methods used to break up content. Whatever you do, always remember you’re writing a blog post, not an article.
You don’t have to write about anything you’re not incredibly passionate about, so why would you? The table of influence is getting more crowded by the day, but there’s certainly room for more. Jackson Spalding would love to help you get there.