Today we’re going to look at a few different content strategies for brands doing business online and over social media – and specific tactics to make your content strategy more effective – and get more likes and shares of your content.
In particular I'm talking about blog posts, social posts, videos, quotes for articles that other people publish, podcast episodes and instagram stories, etc. etc.
Your content is what draws (the right) people towards you.
We're typically talking about free content – put out there to show who you are, what you know, and what you can do for your people.
Putting out content gives you a reason to appear in someone’s Facebook feed; or their inbox; their freshest podcast list; and their YouTube new video notifications.
It also gives you a reason to promote your business in an organic way. That’s why we create content!!
But beyond that, does your content have a purpose?
Do you have a content strategy that is working for you?
Why are you creating content?
Let's talk about WHY you’re creating content.
This will probably fall into one or two of the following categories – whether you realise it or not?:
Showing authority in your niche, or knowledge of your topic.
- Writing and sharing about topics related to your niche or industry, to show your potential customers how much and about what you know.
- Talking about your differentiation factor to help customers make a decision about who to work with.
- Offering value to create goodwill and give potential customers a taste of how you can help them.
To get exposure, to reach more people.
- Either organic exposure through shares and popularity, or through the promotion of paid or sponsored content. To have a reason to appear in someone’s newsfeed or email inbox.
Promotion of your products and services, to demonstrate the value of your product or service.
- Talking about your products and services and how they can and have helped people.
Ideally, you try to do a bit of each. Whether you have a deliberate content strategy or not, you’ll be contributing to one of these strategies.
Which content strategy is right for your brand?
If you’re a coach, then it makes sense to be talking about your methodologies and beliefs – so that readers can gauge if you might be a good fit for them. You want them to develop a sense of confidence in you – that you are the right person to help them.
Maybe you’re a videographer and you want people to see examples of your work, so your content is based around your work. It’s interesting and shareable, so could be seen by many eyes.
A physical product based business might be talking about creative ways to use their product, or just showing the product being useful (whatever its use may be).
Whatever is the case, you first need to be clear on the purpose of the content you’re creating, and THEN decide this:
What do you want your visitor to DO when they see your content?
Because once you have your visitor’s eyes on it – how you embellish that content will depend on what you want them to DO.
If your strategy is based on building authority in your niche, then generally, you want it to be read.
There’s a LOT out there about how to make content engaging enough to get read, and I’m going to boil it down to these two points:
- The headline must create interest, and a question that needs to be answered.
- The content must answer that question but not right at the beginning.
That’s going to get your content read.
Of course, it helps if it’s relevant to how you help people, or what you do. It helps if it’s valuable to the reader i.e. it solves some kind of problem they might have (whether they know they have that problem or not), and there is some kind of a story behind it!
It should be interesting enough to want to read.
That’s the principle at play here – if you want your content to be read, then make it interesting to read. It doesn’t need to be a novel. But solve a problem or answer a question and your reader will read it to the end.
If your strategy is based on gaining exposure, then you’ll want people to share and/or like your content.
You’ll want THE RIGHT people to share and like your content.
What makes something likeable or shareable is completely different than what makes it readable.
In fact, if you want to make something likeable and shareable then the headline, or leading sentence is the MOST important feature of your content.
When people like a piece of content they are giving it a vote of confidence that they’re happy other’s see. They’re saying “This is me”.
If someone SHARES your content then it is a louder shout from the rooftops – THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE.
If you want to gain new followers and exposure through your content being shared, it needs to say something about the person who is sharing it.
And that comes back to who your ideal customer is.
Say something that represents the world view of your ideal customer, and they will come out of the woodwork and share your stuff.
Let me give you a real world example, from someone who is really good at this.
Joshua Becker of the blog Becoming Minimalist creates content about minimalism. Decluttering, simplifying, and living the minimalist life.
He wants to show authority in this niche – “I know what I’m talking about and you can learn something from me”. And he uses his content to attract his ideal customer – people who value minimalism or want to simplify their lives through minimalism.
Here are a few of his headlines:
- Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids.
- How Many Clothes Do I Need? A Practical Guide To Owning Fewer Clothes.
- 8 Reasons Successful People Wear the Same Clothes Every Day
For each of these examples, when someone shares that content on social media they declare: this is me.
✋ Don’t buy my kids toys. I value minimalism.
✋ The reason I don’t have loads of clothes is that I value minimalism.
✋ I wear the same clothes all the time because I value minimalism.
In sharing these headlines, they are telling the world about their values.
“This is me!
All of these people value minimalism so they are all Joshua Becker’s ideal customers. And those that engage with the shared content are likely to be making a statement too.
“This is me too, and who is this Joshua Becker chap?“
There’s also an unanswered question in each of those headlines:
…Do my kids have too many toys?
…Do I have too many clothes?
….How many outfits should I have to make me more successful?
They’ll read it if you tell them the answer.
Products and Services.
Okay next, talking about your products and services.
All you want to achieve here is to show your potential customer what life would be like for them if they bought your product.
A classically terrible example is Marlboro ads. Or any smoking ads of the era when smoking was still cool, and people weren’t yet dying left right and centre of lung cancer.?
The smokers in these ads were portrayed as cool, together, strong, beautiful.
This is what life could be like for you if you smoked Marlboros.
As grim as those ads now look, it worked, and it still works.
Show me how my life will be better when I buy your product. If I can apply it easily to my own life, I want it.
“Look at how happy Courtney is when she is wearing those earrings. How GOOD does she look?”
If you’re creating content that promotes a physical product, remember that people want to be able to see themselves using it. Get to know them, and show them the difference it will make to them.
So show them!!!…AND give them a clear path to buying the product or taking up the offer.
Structure and clear calls to action
Whether it’s a social media post or a blog post, remember that when you put content out there, most of it is perpetual, and can be discovered at any time. So the returns you can get on well-structured content with a clear call to action are endless.
Get clear on the returns you want from your content, then structure it in a way that encourages those returns.
If you want Pins to Pinterest, then include an engaging pinnable graphic and make it easy to pin.
If you want comments, then ask a question at the end of your content, and make it easy to comment.
Now you can see why likes and shares aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all of a successful piece of content – but that’s a whole ‘nother episode!