Anyone can create content today. Tools are easy to use, publishing platforms wildly accessible, research materials plenty. Even the expectation of quality isn’t as high as it used to be. And so business after business jump on the content marketing craze, hoping to gain from this new marketing phenomena.
But most of them fail. Miserably.
No reader visits their blogs, videos gain no traction and presentations gather dust in a dark corner of an obscure server somewhere.
All for a simple reason – failure to build relationships with an audience.
Why promote your brand with content.
Content is a powerful tool. It increases your brands visibility, widens your reach and inspires word of mouth.
But that’s not all.
Content can help you engage an audience and grow a customer base. It can position your company or brand as an influencer. And the connection you build through it helps you build a buyers trust.
But none of this will ever happen, unless you build relationship with your audience first.
When you do so, you turn complete strangers in powerful allies. They’re more likely to pay attention to what you say, stand by your ideals and consider you when looking for products or services.
5 Content Types that Build Relationships
1. Educational Resources
When most people search online, they are looking for answers or information about a specific problem. Moreover, visitors to your site are not interested in your products. They come in search of a solution or answer to a particular problem.
Create a platform to educate people on those issues. By teaching and helping them to overcome those issues you make them see you as a trusted resource. One they will be glad to refer to in the future.
There are two approaches you can take to educate your audience: webinars and online courses.
A webinar is an online version of a typical seminar run at colleges and other educational institutions online. The only difference is that unlike with offline seminar, webinars can be attended by unlimited participants from around the globe.
Webinars happen in real time but once they’re done, that’s it. You can of course repurpose them into other content types but they will always be limited to here and now. Whenever you want to create more permanent and evergreen educational resource, you should consider offering online courses or tutorials accessible online at any time. These courses can focus on a particular issue or teach everything there is to know about the subject. You can make them free or paid as well to better segment your audience.
My friend Chris uses his course teaching how to promote a business with whitepapers to promote his new startup company he’s currently building.
There are some key benefits of engaging users through educational content:
- it demonstrates your credibility. A person that learnt something from you will always consider you a credible resource.
- it creates word of mouth. People whom you helped to overcome problems may be talking about your courses or webinars.
- it can generate qualified leads. Educational content gives customers a chance to sample your services and set better expectations about you and your service.
2. Graphical Content
Images are easy to consume. Most readers absorb visual data much quicker than written word. According to Zabisco, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Moreover, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text (source: Hubspot).
Some of the visual content types that engage audience include:
Infographics. According to AnsonAlex, publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t.
Infographics stand out from other content types because they are a great vehicle to tell a story. This example from mashable or this one from visua.ly are great examples of brands telling storiesy through images.
The power of Infographics lies in them focusing on a single topic and presenting data about it in a simple and easy to absorb form.
Videos – Videos convey much more than words, it’s a scientifically proven fact. According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, a minute of video carries the same value as … 1.8 million words! Moreover, 85% of the US internet audience watches videos online (source: Nielsen). And, 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute (source: Youtube).
Data like this clearly states why videos are a must use content type for engagement.
Slideshare presentations. Slideshare is a popular platform to submit your presentations too. And, it works. It can serve as another PR channel, building your thought-leadership, increase your brand awareness, traffic to the site and needless to say, those presentations are much easier and cheaper to create. You can repurpose old content and even blog posts into successful presentations (here’s my own example of turning a blog post into a presentation).
3. Long Form Content
It can be hard to define long content. For some people it can be anything over 700 words or couple of minutes of video. To others a long form blog post would be one in excess of 2000 words. That’s irrelevant. As the name suggests it has to be a longer content providing more in-depth information.
And, it works. Wordstream noticed that their average time on site tripled after they switched to primarily long form content. They also noticed that long form content formed the majority of posts ranking at number on in Google.
4. Quick Tips
Long content is highly engaging but similarly, a very short, less than 500 words post can make an impact. Kevin Delaney, Editor-in-Chief at a business news site Quartz believes that posts below or over 800 words have the highest likelihood of success.
5. Entertaining Content
Your content shouldn’t be all about educating though. Your audience might need a break from time to time and simply be entertained. After all, entertainment is the second reason people go online, and the first why they go on social media sites.
Therefore, consider using some fun content types too:
Quizzes. Competitions are not only means of promotion. A simple quiz, like this one by SERPs.com, measuring the persons obsession with Google updates can engage your audience while offering some information they might not know in a fun and absorbing way.
The biggest power of quizzes is that they are highly shareable. Not only people will share their results but also talk to their friends about it.
Cartoons and Comic Strips. Often, a single cartoon can tell more than the lengthiest post. And it can also make your audience giggle, like this one I created few months ago.
Games. Everyone likes to play games from time to time. Some of us get even seriously hooked up on them. And I am sure your audience would appreciate a simple game, even though its revolving around your topic of speciality (like this magazine that turned its front cover into a game).
5 More Tips for Building Relationships with Content
6. Be customer centric
Understanding your customers needs and problems is a great start in building relationships. But to make a real impact, try to include your audience in your content. Use customer stories to illustrate your points or show examples of your solutions successes. This will show your audience your dedication and respect for them.
7. Be reliable
Nothing damages someone’s trust like a broken promise. And content marketing is one way of making promises to your audience. Stick to expectations you set. Publish and deliver whenever and whatever you promised.
8. Never sacrifice the quality
Your audience quickly gets used to your typical level of quality. Yet, it’s easy to sacrifice it and publish a lower quality post just to meet the deadline.
9. Be yourself
Whatever you publish, do it with your own voice. Audiences can tell when someone’s pretending, it shows quite clearly. Instead, stick to your own story, that’s what makes you interesting. And if you don’t know your story yet, consider bringing an external help, a journalist perhaps to observe your work and discover it.
10. Deliver value, every time
Lastly, regardless of what content type you use, focus on delivering value. Don’t publish something only for the sake of meeting the deadline but always put your audience first.