27 Jul 2016 21:01 IST

The secret to creating ‘viral’ content

The kind of content you create and the way you frame the context helps connect with the audience

While the term “content marketing” was coined a few years ago, it has gained a lot of prominence in India in the last two years. Now virtually everyone who is anyone in the digital marketing space has boarded the content marketing bandwagon.

So what exactly is content marketing?

Content is any brand’s most powerful weapon which can be used to fulfil marketing and branding objectives. A strategic approach towards creating and distributing content creatively can attract customers and propel them to take the desired action. This content can be in the form of a blog, a video, an infographic, a slideshare, an interview, or even a podcast.

In the early days of content marketing, brands could create unique content and get the right results. But today, creating good and unique content is just not enough. With over 27 million pieces of content being produced every day around the world, the only way to succeed is to create content which is 10 times better than the best content that users can find for a topic. This kind of a strategy was called ‘10X Content’ and the term was coined by Rand Fishkin of Moz, a platform for content & SEO.

So how do brands get started with content marketing?

“Make your content valuable” is the most-heard advice when it comes to content. But how do you really create content that is valuable to your customer? Content might be king, but conversation is the queen! The idea is to build content that speaks to your readers and connects with them instantly. The best way to do that is to try and converse with the readers about the things they want to know. The key is looking for answers; problems that your audience is looking to solve. Some tools and platforms that could help you with such research include the likes of a quick Google search, Quora, Facebook group conversations, comments on existing popular blogs, industry forums.

Research and analyse

Once you’ve decided on a topic to create content on, you need to research the topic, do a competitive analysis and find the most successful content around it. This can be done by searching for different keyword variations on Google to identify top ranked content, or by using a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on the topic. Your aim should now be to make your content better than any of the other top content out there. This can be done by making it better researched, adding infographics, images, slideshares or videos and improving the overall user experience.

For example, if a real estate brand wants to connect with its potential customers and readers, it needs to roll out detailed content on topics that would interest these potential customers and not content about the brand itself. Focus on what they really want to know and leverage that to create good and unique content. Am example of this would the case in which a real estate company in Chennai, having a premium apartment project on the popular Old Mahabalipuram Road, rolled out a series of informative blogs and infographics about basic facilities such as schools and the restaurants located on the road. This was aimed at providing useful content to the existing and also potential residents of the apartment community.

Another example of interesting content marketing is the video series run by the Murugappa Group called “The Most Important Job” , in which the brand tried to connect with urban youth by showcasing the importance that farmers have in our lives. Another excellent example of amazing content marketing would be Bank Bazaar. Their blog is fuelled by written content, infographics, videos & has an amazing user experience.

Putting the customer first

One common mistake we see brands making is force-fitting their brand and product into the content thus making it too self-promotional. Bombarding your readers and potential customers with self-promotional content is unlikely to get the desired traction. There are several cons to writing self-promotional content. You will not be able to establish any kind of connect with your readers and might end up losing readers instead of gaining some. However, promotional content that is intertwined with useful or generic content is a smarter approach to take. Content which talks about what your readers want and addresses common problems and offers solutions is bound to work better.

So do all brands need content marketing? In most cases, yes!

Research by multiple companies, including global platform Hubspot, have shown that as compared to paid media, content and earned media has a more sustained and long-term impact on the brand and business results. Consumers are bombarded with ads from a large number of brands across several media, devices and touchpoints. This makes it increasingly challenging for brands. Moreover, with the use of ad blocking growing at a rapid pace, inbound marketing through valuable content works better and helps reach out to an audience.

Tracking

Tracking results from content marketing has also become easier over time. Three metrics that usually help in measuring the impact of the content marketing efforts are:

~~ The social impact: Shares on social media platforms.

~~ Organic and Referral Traffic: The number of visitors to the blog (or YouTube Channel or podcast) from Google Search, Social Media and other referral sites.

~~ Conversions from the blog: Enquiries or sales generated from your content marketing efforts, as may be relevant.

Of course, creating and publishing content is half the story. Content distribution and amplification requires as much, if not more, effort as content creation and I shall write on this topic separately.

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