While content marketing is not a new phenomenon, it’s a fast moving target that is constantly evolving. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. As content creators and strategists, much of your inspiration for forming new material comes from the creative images, blog posts, infographics, videos and memes that you find on any one of thousands of popular personal sites and professional publications, as well as massive social aggregator sites like Reddit. As a good citizen of the Internet, it is your job to surf all of these places and identify content trends that you can adapt to fit the needs of your own marketing campaigns on an ongoing basis. Here are some key elements that you might want to consider if you want to succeed in getting your messages noticed and shared.

1. Targeted UGC Goes a Long Way

One of the hottest trends in content marketing is user generated content (UGC). This is generally any form of blog post, video, audio, tweets or posts that was created by users of an online “system or service.” A 2014 study of millennial online behavior showed that this demographic, in aggregate, spends roughly 18 hours a day viewing some form of media (this includes devices playing at the same time). The study showed millennials spent more than 30 percent of that time watching UGC.

Creating relevant material that resonates with an intended target audience is an ongoing challenge. One organization using UGC as the core of their business is The Audience Awards. The company showcases short films from a large community of filmmakers on its site. Audience Awards recently partnered with the LA Shorts Film Festival to let online audiences watch and vote for 41 of the festival’s films. If film lovers vote and engage with film content, it’s essentially a guarantee that favorite films will be posted about on social media and drive more traffic and viewers to The Audience Awards website. Hosting UGCs for brands, they access their filmmaker members on the site to create the UGC content and then allow the audience to choose the best. This type of content works because almost everyone on the site is highly devoted to or a fan of filmmaking in general.

The company is also developing a variety of new UGC content, including an upcoming “Film School Face-Off.”

“It’s basically a bracket-style elimination short film competition for the top 16 film schools in the U.S. Through audience choice voting, we’re bringing exposure to the most promising filmmakers coming out of the best schools,” says Audience Awards Founder Paige Williams.

2. Truly Think About How the Internet Might React to Your Messages

Both B2B and B2C brands are spending more time, attention and 76 percent more budget on content marketing in 2015. They’re utilizing sophisticated tactics, crossing social media platforms, and coming up with unique concepts to engage users.

An important fact to keep in mind when creating content marketing strategy is to choose messages carefully. For a brand presenting itself through integrated content, the wrong tone or reference can backfire; creating negative attention that is expensive to repair. Have you thought about how the Internet might see your attempts at engagement? Will you be seen as approachable and congenial – or calculating and scheming.

Perhaps the most famous recent and relevant example of content strategy misfire is Bill Cosby’s failed social media and content marketing campaigns from late 2014, which ended up helping push old rape allegations back into the national spotlight. The comedian’s social media team originally asked followers to help generate content by producing memes that would help build buzz for Cosby’s ongoing work. This all backfired, resulting in literally thousands of negative tweets, and a renewed national examination of the original charges, which actually grew in number as the whole fiasco unfolded.

3. Authenticity Always Wins

The mantra for content marketing lies in understanding what an audience wants, and delivering on those desires. Business blogging has been on a healthy rise since 2012, and the importance of quality writing in those blogs cannot be overstated. Content strategies will fail if users feel short changed, reading blog posts that are neither pertinent nor entertaining. Keeping a sharp eye on quality, and mixing text with engaging infographics are well worth the time and effort required.

Knowing your competitors is crucial to developing a killer content marketing plan. If you are watching rivals, you should, before too long, start to get a feel for content that works and what doesn’t. Watching publicly available metrics such as social shares and search results helps in determining what’s popular. Seeing what works for similar businesses allows you to avoid copycat moves, come up with unique ideas that aren’t being utilized by the competition, as well as adapt popular ideas to fit your own strategies. Search engine optimization (SEO) tools can allow you to see which sites rank highly for certain keywords. Social media monitoring tools help you analyze the most popular subjects discussed on social media, as well as learn more about the sentiment or tone what people are saying. All of these elements should inform your work to brainstorm truly authentic content ideas.

When considering content that will be shared by influencers, there are no short cuts. Firms often start out strong with their content, later veering into pedestrian posts that get little attention. It’s helpful to think of every piece of content as a first date or interview. The words and tone count. If a company does not have the appropriate talent within to keep the content machine well oiled, outsourcing is an acceptable solution. At a time when so many users are generating content, writing thoughtful pieces and articulating innovative concepts, the options are almost limitless. The fact remains, authentic content paired with an identifiable human element, is an evergreen investment.

 

This article was written by Drew Hendricks from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. 
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