Since the birth of the Internet, the amount of content that we can access with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen has been growing at a rapid rate.
We can access mindless videos through TikTok, limitless Facebook posts from our weird relatives, and awe-inspiring images through Instagram. Content can be created by anyone, anywhere, at any time.
But if you’re looking to leverage content marketing for your business, it’s going to take a little more than slapping together a few words and calling it a day.
The basics of content creation
If you haven’t implemented content creation into your marketing strategy, you’re doing it wrong.
What is content creation?
Content creation is the act of producing information for an audience to be viewed on a media platform with an end goal in mind. The information and goals of the content heavily depend on the producer.
If the producer is twelve years old and they’re creating a Snapchat story, that’s content creation. If the producer is forty five years old and livestreaming their midlife crisis on YouTube, that’s content creation. If the producer is a twenty three year old marketer that’s writing an article for a company, that’s content creation, too.
What makes the marketer different?
A plan of attack.
Creating Snapchat stories take only a second. Documenting a midlife crisis on YouTube takes a few days. But creating content for a company means planning, executing, and following up on its performance.
Is that something you’re ready to take on?
Why is content creation important?
There are two types of marketing that companies can take on: outbound marketing and inbound marketing. Outbound marketing involves cold calls, spam emails, and any other marketing tactic that we’ve been trained to ultimately ignore.
Inbound marketing practices like content creation, on the other hand, work to offer an audience something of value in order to draw them in: ebooks, podcasts, articles, infographics, and beyond.
By doing this, inbound marketers increase brand awareness along with brand preference, while the companies that market themselves gain meaningful leads that eventually turn into customers.
While outbound marketing is like casting a line with no bait, inbound marketing offers fish in the pond something to grab onto.
The content creation process
We understand what content creation is and its importance in the world of marketing. What’s next?
If you’re looking for little ROI, it’s not likely you’ll have any success without a process.
Your audience should come first – do you know who they are? Who do you want to be reading your blog posts, listening to your podcasts, and sharing your data visualizations?
A customer profile represents the perfect customer for your company: their budget, profession, hobbies, location, values, behaviors, and demographics. By creating a profile, you’ll feel more prepared to understand your reader, their habits, and potential interests so that you can better appeal to them.
This may sound like the easiest part of the process, but it can often prove to be the most difficult. Because ideas for content can come from anywhere and everywhere, it can be tough to narrow those ideas down and identify goals and angles in which you’ll take the idea.
To help you feel a little more organized about the infinite sources of ideas, we’ve curated a list of where the best ones can come from.
Utilize your coworkers for their own ideas. Whether you’re the only creative person on your team or one of many, it’s important to reach out to other departments for their ideas. After all, departments like sales, customer service and even IT work closely with current customers and prospects and may know a little (or a lot) more about what your audience is looking for. Some of the ideas they present to you might not have ever crossed your mind if you hadn’t reached out for help.
Keyword research can help you and your team learn more about what people are actually searching for online. What words are your audience using to describe your topics, your products, or your company? Not only can keyword research help you phrase and rephrase the ideas you had to begin with, but it may reveal new ideas you may not have thought of initially. SEO software can help you with things like keyword analysis and trend analysis to identify the best strategies to improve a website's relevance.
New data can be an opportunity to prove to your audience what kind of value your company brings to the table. Working these facts into your content may lead to new, fresh ideas that your audience didn’t even know they needed to hear.
Sneak a peek at your competitors to stay on top of (and ahead of) the game. What topics have they written about? Do some social listening to find out what their customers are sharing online and what’s gathering steam on Google. Don’t just look at how they’re approaching the topic – how can your brand do it better?
Use your audience. This doesn’t have to be a guessing game - the answer could be lying in the reviews they leave for your product. Is there confusion regarding how to use your product? Are people requesting a new feature? Answer their questions with your content.
Identify the “how”
You’ve found an enormous list of keywords and answers your customers have been begging for. How will you deliver?
Content can come in many forms, but it’s important to remember that the forms you provide are valuable for your customer profile.
While a 3-hour instructional video may be incredibly informative, will your audience really take the time out of their day to consume that?
Keep your execution simple and helpful. Remember that, like you, your audience is looking for answers. There are several different formats of content that marketers can create in order to provide these answers:
Make sure that the format you choose for your content is not only engaging but also appropriate – is it going to make more sense to provide a podcast about your data, or would it be better communicated through an infographic design?
Keep in mind the resources you have at hand and the resources you don’t have at hand; will you need to budget for a freelance graphic designer or a podcast producer? Do you have all of the equipment you need to film a video? What about the expertise to edit it?
Get all of your ducks in a row before you start creating.
Create: advice from the experts
It’s time to execute. There’s no one way to do this, but these experts have some tips on how to get it right:
“The biggest success factor in [content creation] is making sure to maintain a unique and authentic voice in any subject area.”
“Content should be vulnerable, sincere, and authentic. Instead of selling products and telling people why and how a product works, start to engage with your followers. Let them know they are heard and understood.”
“One of our company mantras is to write content that you would want to read, and I think it can be easy for some marketers and content creators to forget this crucial piece of advice. I often see marketers prioritizing keyword research, planning content around SEO, and trying to keep up with the latest trends, but none of these strategies focus on what really matters: what people want to read.”
“Another important feature for content is multimedia content. Your content should use different media to tell better stories, which includes infographics, pictures, graphs, videos and GIFs.”
Caio Bersot, Senior Content and Social Media Specialist at energyrates.ca
Don’t be shy
“Set aside the judgement and free flow ideas with your team. With the mindset of ‘no idea is a bad idea’, the possibilities are endless, which can put you ahead of the game. Go with the ideas that are the most original and out-of-the-box. You could start the next marketing trend!”
Content creation is easy, sure. But if you want your hard work to pay off, you have to put in what you’re expecting to get out of it. It’s not easy, but with a solid process and an open mind, you and your business are bound to see results that will change your business for the better.
Daniella Alscher is a content marketer for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's spending time with her dog, watching a true crime documentary on Netflix, or trying to learn something completely new. (she/her/hers)