January 21, 2016 - Posted to Writing Tips
How to Produce Outstanding Content
The Internet is on “content overload.” If you want your content read and shared, and of course you do, then yours will have to be more stunning ad more engaging than what others are putting out there. So, how do you get the kind of content that everyone loves to read? There are a few “rules” that should guide you.
Rule 1: Provide Value to Your Reader(s)
Who wants to read anything unless there is some benefit for them? There are lots of ways to provide value or benefit. Offer something free; present a survey or a quiz that will be fun to complete; provide humor, entertainment or inspiration; feature your customers on your social media pages; provide ways in which your readers can become involved. If you want some great examples of providing “value,” check out the websites of ModCloth or Jack Daniels – they have great reader interaction and engagement.
Rule 2: Get Compelling and “Snappy” Headlines and First Sentences
Readers will be attracted to your content by an intriguing or shocking headline. And they will stay a little longer if your first sentence does the same thing. Of course, the rest of your content will need to be fresh and great too, but if that headline is not there, they won’t come in the first place.
Rule 3: Divide that Content Up
People are in a hurry – they don’t want to read a textbook or an essay. They want to be able to scan through your content and pick out those things that might be of interest. If you use sub-headings, list, bullet point, etc., they will be able to scan quickly and they will like you more.
Rule 4: Provide a Series Rather than a “One-Shot” Piece
If you have a really cool topic, divide it into parts. Offer your content in a series of posts rather than one longer one. They’ll come back if they know when the next installment in your series will be published.
Rule 5: Add Media and Graphics – Lots of It
If you did not know this before, you know it now. Facebook posts and Tweets are 150% more likely to be read and shared if there are photos, images, videos, infographics, etc. included. Get online and find the tools that allow you to make your own. Most have free versions. Using “stock” photos and images used to be acceptable. That is no longer the case – they are boring and everyone has seen them before.
Rule 6: Don’t Sell – Engage
Today’s consumer wants to have a relationship with the businesses and organizations with whom s/he does business. These consumers want to know who you are, what your story is, and why they should trust you. That relationship is built over time by providing expertise, entertainment, and inspiration, not sales pitches. Relationship comes first – sales come later.
Rule 7: Make Your Content Easy to Share
If you have a blog, then make sure you have the plugins that allow sharing. They should be visible on each post and should follow the content as the reader moves down.
Rule 8: Encourage Conversations and Discussions
This is pretty easy to do on social media, but it should be easy on your blog as well. Install plugins that allow for conversations and comments at the end of each post, and ask for those comments. This is how you engage readers with your and with other readers. The more conversation you can achieve, the more you establish that relationship. And, you MUST respond to any comment that is posted.
Rule 9: Use Social Media Wisely
You need to develop a persona of your typical follower/customer. Once you do that, you can access all kinds of research that will tell you when that person is online, what devices that person uses to access content, and which social media platforms that person uses. You can then take that information, determine which social media platforms deserve your attention and when, where and how often you should post your content. It makes no sense to post on LinkedIn if your target audience is not there.
Rule 10: Be Consistent
If you start a blog or if you have a presence on social media sites, then you need to develop a schedule of publication so that your readers can rely on you to actually deliver content when they expect it. Nothing drives a follower/reader away faster than if you neglect him/her by not publishing when they expect it. Even if you are only publishing a joke or quote of the day, you must do it as you have promised.
It takes time to develop a following, but the long-term benefits are really there if you are persistent and consistent. When you get that following, you also get their “communities” because they find your content worthwhile or fun and will share it. That web of sharing is what you want if you intent to get a steady stream of expanding followers and, ultimately, customers.