The demand to sustain the overwhelming gluttonous content beast can throw even the calmest content creators into a panicked tailspin. But the good news is you don’t have to take the splatter gun approach to creating content and risk looking like an over-stuffed sock draw. Here’s 6 great tools for content control.
How to properly feed the content beast and tame it with the right tools
Sure, there are multiple channels for you to spruik your content – twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, videos, podcasts, blogs – but you don’t have to be everywhere, all the time. Sometimes, less is more.
Sharing everything is not always effective
Ophelie Lechat is a former journalist who crossed over to the dark side of marketing and she explains that there’s been a lot of research into how strategic use of content is the most effective way to market. Ms Lechat says while it may “sound like a good idea” to grab photos from a team party “where everyone’s a little bit drunk” and post them on social media, it really isn’t. You need to think about how that content is serving your audience, rather than just working to satiate the content beast.
“Knowing your audience, knowing your unique value proposition, understanding where your business fits in the market and what your competitors might be doing,” are key factors in determining how to create successful content, explains Ms Lechat.
“How much are people connecting with you? How is that translating commercially to your brand?” she adds.
The secret to creating killer content: stories should make us trust and care
When New York journalist Shane Snow asked 3,000 people who they would trust more, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom or fiction writer JK Rowling, best known for her hit book series about the magical wizard Harry Potter – the resounding response was JK Rowling. Mr Snow puts this down to the power of social storytelling and talks about it in his TEDx talk.
The Queen vs JK Rowling has a lot do with how stories make us tick. For Ms Lechat the fact that a reigning monarch who’s been in the public eye for many, many decades rated lower than an admired children’s book author comes down to the simple fact of how stories connect with us and how they inspire us.
“Stories that connect with us make us change physically and chemically and stay with you over time,” says Ms Lechat.
Using the methods of great storytelling to create content can build relationships, and make people care. We’ve previously spoken about the power of narrative. And that relationship is now a two-way street. As Ms Lechat points out, “Brands no longer own the stories themselves and are no longer the gatekeepers to really good stories.”
“If you Google restaurant reviews for example, the restaurants are no longer in charge of the image you have of them before you show up,” she adds.
Know your audience
Classically trained advertising copywriter and now big brand content creator Beatrix Holland says, “You’re going to have three main audiences.”
“Your primary audience are the people who are really into your subject. The secondary audience are the people who are laterally interested in your subject. And the third group might be people who are looking at you for other reasons.”
Ms Holland says, it’s crucial to “really take the time to interrogate who each of these audiences are.”
According to Ms Holland, once you get to know your audience intimately “your content marketing strategy should talk about who you’re going to reach, how you’re going to speak to them, how much you’re going to spend doing that and how long you’re going to do it for.”
But she says before you even “spend a cent or a half hour on your content marketing, consider whether your website is easy to find, does it look like you’re a real business and are all your social buttons actually linking to real social sites.”
Always be measuring
If you’ve proudly created a content strategy – whether it’s simple or labyrinthine – how do you know it’s truly reaching your intended audience? Ms Holland says you need to always be using tools to tracking the analytics and data of your reach. However, she adds, “The trick with metrics is to find the ones that make sense to you.” This means measuring your content output without necessarily going to great expense. There are inexpensive or free tools such as Google analytics that will track how well a piece of content is performing. Ms Holland explains that measuring is not only necessary to determine how effective your content strategy has performed, but also in terms of goal setting, so you can continue to improve your content offering.
According to the Australian Network on Disability over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That’s 1 in 5 people. So, when creating content consider the needs of your entire audience.
Using website accessibility as just one example, Ms Beatrix states that “part of being a good web citizen” is that “when you are posting any kind of content online, you need to consider accessibility.”
“It’s actually just a solid business decision because at any time in Australia over 20 percent of people have a transitional or permanent disability. So, if you’re making it harder for 20 percent of your customers to shop with you or to download your app, you’re shooting yourself in the foot,” she adds.
There are plenty of tools such as screen readers online which you can run your website through, to determine how accessible your site is.
The tools of the content trade
Using the right tools can help tame the content beast. So rather than feeling like you’re continually struggling to feed the Hungry Caterpillar with strawberries, pears and all sorts of treats – content meal time can be reduced down to one serving, through the effective use of tools.
1. Automation: Buffer
Buffer is a tool designed to schedule your content across different social platforms, which means if you’ve written one blog post, it will make it easier to amplify your message. Ms Holland says, “With every piece of content that you’re creating, you’re not just sending it out once, you’re sending it out a bunch of times across your platforms and Buffer is going to make that very, very easy for you and very, very time efficient.”
Buffer also comes with a blog that keeps you informed around developments in content creation and social media. Ms Holland says, “They really interrogate what’s going on and whenever there’s a new feature, these guys are on it. They’re writing about it and they’re making it really tangible in terms of what it means for your business.”
Buffer is going to set you back about $100 a year – but think about all that time you’ll save.
- Curation: Nuzzel
Nuzzel offers a personalised news feed and curated newsletters. It’s a dream tool for people who are time pressed, but also have an unquenchable thirst to stay informed. The way the tool works is that it pulls together information based on what your friends and your friends, friends are reading and then sharing through social channels.
Ms Holland says, “When I used to talk about how to curate, I used to talk about the millions of mailing lists that you should be subscribed to, but I recently discovered Nuzzel and that does all of that for me.”
“I can get this platform to my social accounts that I want to use and then it tells me what’s been most shared within that group. Then I can search through the articles and pull up the ones that I know are going to be most relevant and I look like a cool early adopter who’s really on top of the news stream. I have found this to be absolutely invaluable and it really has saved me so much time,” she adds.
- Media and Influencer Relations: Source Bottle
Public Relations (PR) is a great tool to build awareness about your business, but as Ms Holland points out, “it’s still an industry that is very much relationships based.” And the best aspect of PR is that is can potentially get you more ‘air time’ so-to-speak without spending a cent as is explained in Free PR with Source Bottle.
Source Bottle is a free online service that connects journalists and bloggers with knowledgeable sources (experts in a field).
Ms Holland says, “When it comes to media and influencer relations Sauce Bottle is a really cool site. There are other international sites, but this is the most relevant one for the Australian audience.”
- Community Building: Facebook Groups
Ms Holland explains that community groups can create “some really unique opportunities.” Adding to that she says, “Community building is important because nobody creates content in isolation.”
“When it comes to building a community around your business, Facebook groups are probably the platform that you’re overlooking, and I’ve been creating Facebook groups with a number of my clients and I found it incredibly rewarding.”
While Ms Holland reminds us that “Facebook is not having a great time at the moment” as their “algorithm is all over the shop”, she says “groups are still relatively consistent.”
“When you build a group, you’re getting a lot deeper engagement from your members. They’re also much more likely to feel like they’re an advocate of your business because you’re not speaking to them directly to sell them stuff. You’re actually creating a community around information sharing that can be really meaningful.”.
“The usual rules of social platforms apply. You don’t walk in and begin spruiking whatever you’re selling immediately. You lurk, you listen. You share some meaningful content and Facebook groups really do pay off. I wouldn’t do a social strategy without them,” she adds.
- Outsourcing: CloudPeeps
Ms Holland believes that “every startup’s friend is outsourcing.” Cloud Peeps is a freelance business management tool that connects freelancers with businesses. The San Francisco based startup was actually kicked off by some clever Melburnians.
Ms Holland explains that the way it works is that it “lets freelancers promote packages that they offer. So, they might be offering five blog posts and 20 social posts for a set price and it also allows them to pitch on jobs.
“If you’ve got a specific content need, like you know that you should be posting five times every month – and you’re prepared to pay $300 per post – you put that job up and then people send you their folios.”
- Get in their mailboxes: MailChimp
Ms Holland says, “mailing lists are your secret weapon.”
There are many marketing automation tools, but Ms Holland’s favourite is MailChimp. If you’ve never used it (or listened to a podcast – where they constantly advertise), MailChimp is an email marketing service that allows you to send email newsletters, invitations and reminders.
Why use MailChimp? Ms Holland says, “People aren’t necessarily going to come to your blog every week and read your cool three new posts, but if you send them a Friday roundup of everything that you’ve written, they are going to engage with your content.”
The other advantage of creating your own newsletter is that you’re not at the mercy of continually changing algorithms as is explained in this nuzzle blog.
Beatrix Holland and Ophelie Lechat were speaking at WeTeachMe’s Masters Series for Content 101. You can hear more highlights from their presentations in Episode 2 of the Masters Series podcast.