Is your blog a blob? Does your website get traffic? Does Google even know you exist? It’s all about content—fresh content. Constantly fresh content. Talk about pressure! For those of us who find the challenge of creating content overwhelming, Ann Handley, marketing guru and content queen, offers great tips:
Creating great content for the web is increasingly a cornerstone to lead generation and lead nurturing. In other words, it's key to attracting new customers and to deepening relationships with existing ones.
But many companies have trouble creating enough of it. So blogs languish. Flip cameras gather dust. Your Twitter feed is as sparse as Oprah's. How can you create and distribute a steady flow of stuff that your customers actually care about?
Here are 11 ideas:
Think small. Creating a white paper or ebook is a huge task. Instead, create smaller chunks of content. A series of smaller blog posts will be easier to produce, more digestible for readers short on time and attention, and multiply your search love.
Think really small. Ask your Twitter followers for their take on a specific theme or topic related to your business, and create a blog post from it (with credit to them, of course). Something open-ended (no wrong answers) and that solicits personal suggestions or advice works best. Such as: What's your favorite must-have iPhone app for business? What's your must-read book on Widget Management for 2010? What's your favorite social media tool?
Bundle. Conversely to #1, bundle existing blog posts around a central theme into an ebook or white paper. Give it away freely (not requiring users to register to download it), or not. See which approach works best for you here, in "Should You Put Your eBooks and White Papers (and Other Content) Behind a Registration Page?".
Record presentations or speeches. Record the speeches or presentations you or your team gives at industry events, and post them on YouTube. Repurpose as needed to your blog, on Twitter, Facebook, or other social sites.
Post presentations on SlideShare. Upload PowerPoint presentations to share on SlideShare, and similarly share freely on Twitter, your blog, and so on.
Chat with customers. Arm your sales staff or other customer-facing folks with Flip cameras to capture face time with prospects or customers. Bring a camera along next time you attend a networking event. Not sure what to say? Try asking customers a single question to unify their answers and string them together for a compelling video. Something like: What's your biggest marketing challenge? Name one business goal for 2010. What's a strategy you're using working to grow your business this year?
Interview luminaries. Q&A interviews with thought leaders, strategic partners, or flat-out interesting or creative thinkers makes for compelling text or audio content. (Bonus: It raises your profile with them, as well.) John Jantsch offers a great step-by-step approach to podcasting here. Alternatively, a simple text Q&A is easy to do via Skype, which allows for back-and-forth banter that gives an interview more energy and makes it more fun to read. Capture the text, edit for clarity, slap on a headline, and you're done. (That's how I did this interview, What's a Dry Cleaner Doing on Twitter?)
Share real-time photos. Configure your blog to work with Flickr, so that you can upload photos from industry events, meetups, or gatherings. Snap photos to share on Twitter via Twitpic. Speed matters here: The faster following an event you can get your photos up, the more likely it is that people will use them to refer to, share with others and drive traffic to your content. Rohit Bhargava offers more general advice on using Flickr here.
Ask customer service. The front line is a great source for content. Ask them: What are customers contacting us about? What problems do they have? How might you help them resolve their issues? This kind of content is great for regular content with a recurring "Questions from our customers" theme.
Go behind-the-scenes. Give readers or followers an insider's view of your company. Twitpic a shot from a podcast or video in progress; share what content you're working on producing on Twitter (Writing a post on the H1N1 vaccines for teenagers. Did you vaccinate your kid?); and so on.
Bust silos. Do you have a print newsletter? Do you produce a regular podcast? Run a version of a print article on the blog, upload the best headlines to Facebook, post transcripts of your podcast online, and chat everything up on Twitter. A lot of the ideas here reinforce the notion that you should not silo your content. Rather, sprinkle it freely across any of your platforms. It's important to think like a publisher, and leverage any publishing platforms you've created.
What other ways are you generating interesting, compelling content that your customers love?
About the Author: Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how. She also blogs at her acclaimed personal web log. Follow her on Twitter @marketingprofs.
This article originally titled "Mommy, Where Does Content Come From? 11 Easy Ways to Create Great Stuff” By Ann Handley was published on OpenForum.com Jan 28, 2010