Last week we saw that content marketing trends have evolved significantly during 2017, and that shift can be expected to carry over into the months (even years) to come. So, what are some strategies and key takeaways for keeping up with this shift? Let's dig in.
Last time, we saw that as a topic begins to gain traction, the rise in popularity leads to many publishers writing articles about the topic, which ultimately leads to content saturation. In turn, this can result in two very significant outcomes:
- It creates content shock for readers, causing them to lose track of new articles coming out, which leads to content sharing to radically reduce.
- It significantly impairs creators’ online visibility. What this means is that their post gets lost in a sea of almost identical content pieces.
With such high content saturation, you need to be strategic in the content you post. So what can you do in order to stand out from your competition in times like these?
What to do:
- Do not create content for the sake of creating content. Have an objective; ask yourself, what is the point of this article? What am I trying to achieve?
- Become a thought leader: By becoming an authority in your niche, you will have greater success because you have built an engaged audience in the given niche/topic. That same audience will turn to you for insight, especially if there is a spike in a topic that is in your niche.
- Plan ahead: Always be on the lookout for topics that might start to trend, and monitor their evolution. If you suspect that it will gain momentum, begin creating content before anyone else. This is a great tactic to become a thought leader.
- Research the level of saturation for a specific topic you are interested in creating content about. If saturation is high, try to find a relevant “quieter” sub-topic to tackle and build upon.
- Don’t ever pile on a trending topic with more content, especially without a strategy. Once saturation is in effect, you are better off moving away and looking for sub-topics. For an example, write an article about what may happen post-trend. By staying one step ahead on the topic, you are now establishing yourself as a thought leader.
Sharp Decline of Shares
We saw that, compared to a 2015 study, 2017 social shares were down by a massive 50%. This was partially due to:
- A change in Facebook’s algorithm, which now favors content by friends and family over brands and publishers.
- People no longer want clickbait content, they now value quality driven content that will answer their needs and interests.
It was not all bad news however as referrals from Google sites rose significantly. Moreover, highly authoritative websites such as The Harvard Business Review, and the NY Times were inversely affected, actually seeing shares and engagement soar.
One last thing to keep in mind here is that other methods of content discovery rose such as mobile notifications, emails, LinkedIn feeds, and direct publications.
So what can you do to keep your shares healthy during 2018?
What to do:
- With the sharp decline in social sharing, proper SEO is more important than ever. An important part of your company's digital marketing strategy should focus on ramping up a presence on Google Sites, which are now sending more referral traffic than Facebook. For more SEO insight, click here.
- Focus on the long-tail and “user intent” rather than keyword stuffing and clickbait titles.
- Utilize LinkedIn: Traditional social media sharing might be decreasing, but Linkedin presents interesting opportunities for high quality B2B sharing, even if the "base' is small.
- Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, focus on building a community. A strong and engaged following across all your digital channels can go a very long way.
- Utilize email marketing: Email is not dead, far from it in fact. The people on your email list are already in there because they value what you offer, why not share your content directly to them. In turn they might go on to share with some of their followers and lists.
- Focus on value driven content that deserves to be shared. The days of clickbait, low quality content are over. Aim to answer your audience’s questions, and make information easy to understand, digest, and share.
- Leverage influencer marketing, but remember, content shared should be well researched, authoritative, and from a trusted source. Trends are showing that influencers are being more selective in their sharing.
- While SEO and a sound social strategy are important, paid promotion might just be what your content needs to gain the visibility it deserves.
The median for articles that got backlinks during 2017 was 0; meaning that over half of all articles published last year got no backlinks.
As we know, backlinks are important. They not only constitute us as authority figures in the eyes of our audience, they also show our value to search engines, ultimately resulting in higher SERPs (and of course the higher the SERP the greater our visibility.)
What to do:
- Focus more effort on your distribution strategy. The 80-20 rule is shifting, now you should be spending 80% of your efforts in optimizing and perfecting your distribution strategy for each piece of content you create.
- Focus on quality. The above point does not negate the fact that your content needs to be well researched, well referenced, and authoritative. Just because you need to stress more on distributing does not mean that your content should experience a drop in quality.
- Create more evergreen content. Evergreen content is not only well researched and authoritative in the eyes of our audience, it is also something that can remain relevant in the grand scheme of things. Once again, this is not a one and done tactic. Make sure to come back to update and refresh these posts, to ensure they stand the test of time.
- Content creation and distribution is not a one-and-done strategy. Go back to well performing and evergreen content and repurpose it. You can create slides to be shared on Slideshare, videos for YouTube and social channels, podcasts, infographics, and e-books.
- Once again promote. Utilize native, display, text, social, Google, PPC, and any other type of paid promotion that can make your content stand out to the right people, at the right places, at the right time.
Shift Towards Quality
Authoritative sites such as the NY Times, the Economist, and the HBR were largely unaffected by the shift in trends, continuing to see success with their content. Of course, their authority played a significant role but they also were unaffected for another reason; quality of content. These sites do not only pump out strong, well researched posts, they are also constantly innovating, adapting, and personalizing their content.
So where lays the potential to mimic the success of these giants?
What to do:
- Think of content as an experience. Your focus needs to be on value, a bland looking piece of content will not get any attention, no matter how good its contents are. Be sure to optimize the look and feel of your content.
- Personalize content for each platform. For an example, an email to your list with the objective of driving traffic to your site should not be a 1200 word email. It should include insight in a short manner which leads to an optimized blog post or piece of content.
- Create conversations. Don’t just share/promote your posts, engage with your audience. Ask them questions, and answer theirs, ultimately creating a relationship between you, the thought leader, and them, your target audience. These relationships can lead to a plethora of things such as ideas for later blog posts, understanding their pain, needs, and interests, and much more.
- Explore new formats. Authority is important, but you should also aim to innovate with new ideas when creating content. The NY Times for examples uses numerous methods, including interactive graphics, and blending slides with video. Surprise your audience, but in a good way.
As we saw from the trends report, what works today might not work tomorrow. Be vigilant, monitor trends, build your strategy, and always adapt.
Do you have any questions? Are there any additional key points you think we should have included above? Let us know!
And as always for more digital marketing inside be sure to check out the links below:
- 10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes & How to Solve Them
- Step-by-Step Guide to Content Syndication
- Efficiency Tips for the Content Marketing World
- Revitalize Your Marketing Strategy With This 5 Step Content Audit