It’s not enough to simply launch a blog or publish a magazine anymore. Your message must be consistently and artfully woven throughout multiple vehicles in a way that adds value and enhances experience—but where do you start?
Creating content that’s manageable across channels and sustainable throughout its lifecycle requires some planning. There are volumes written on content strategy insofar as which channels to leverage for maximum effect (blog plus e-newsletter with a twist of Facebook, anyone?). But, as helpful as these guidelines can be, they do not address a foundational aspect of strategy: the core nature of the content.
In order to be highly effective and easily translatable into multiple channels, your marketing content must be rooted in these five characteristics:
At the center of your content strategy should be the desire to teach something of value. Whether it’s instructional by design or more general in nature, the education component of your content can be easily translatable from a feature article in a print magazine to a bulleted list in your blog entry to an intriguing “Did you know?” on your social media page.
The key to entertaining your audience is to make them forget they’re learning something. Successfully integrated content will always include compelling alternatives to two-dimensional ways of saying the same thing. In addition to approaching the topic in an unconventional and thought-provoking way, a good approach is to include an entertaining complement to the text, such as a quiz, a puzzle, or an infographic. In any of these cases, you’ve taken what might be a bland approach and seasoned it so that it can be used in a variety of ways.
What’s better than reaching one reader? Engaging that reader so thoroughly that he or she shares your content (and message) with others. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, engagement and entertainment are differentiated by one aspect: interaction. What makes a person want to invite others to share the same experience? Provocative, relevant content written in a fresh way. A compelling headline. An interactive graphic. A can’t-resist call to action. A quiz that reveals to the reader something about himself. A smartly written and highly opinionated rant on a relevant topic. All of these approaches will help to seamlessly deploy your engaging content into various social channels.
Building trust is one of the primary objectives in content marketing and is the hallmark of any successful campaign strategy. If your readers smell an advertisement or if they sense your message is self-serving, they will be put off and your objectives will be lost. Best practices dictate your content should be soft-sell in tone, should offer something other than information about your organization, and should lend itself to establishing a slowly progressing, long-term relationship. (Hint: People don’t want to know about your hospital's new electronic HVAC system.) Once you’ve built the trust language and approach into your content, integration will generate additional trustworthy content. In the absence of the trust component, your content (no matter the channel) will fall on suspicious, unwilling ears.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your content must function as a catalyst for action. The end game of a smart campaign is to encourage people to do something specific. Calls to action at the end of an article are the most common vehicle for this type of message, but if your entire content piece (article, blog entry, direct mail piece) is dusted with language that encourages action, the end result will be content that’s easily translatable into other methods of distribution (posts, tweets, videos).
The bottom line: Content integration can be a nebulous concept but, when done correctly, it will substantially energize your marketing objectives. Depending on the industry and audience, there are more than 15 possible vehicles for integrated content distribution. Blogs, print magazines, e-newsletters, videos, and websites only scratch the surface nowadays. First, make sure your core content educates, entertains, engages, ensures and encourages. If you are purposeful in planning your content with these five imperatives, it will bring the audience right to you.
Want more expert perspective on content marketing? Contact Anne at 423.490.9950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.