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Your Brand’s Content Has to Kill It: Here’s Where You Start

by Team Caffeine · 2 comments

Tennis Content Marketing

“Telling people the secret to content marketing is to create great content is like telling a tennis player that the secret to tennis is to hit the ball over the net.” – David Spark

You can’t game search engines any more. Quality matters. If you want to draw a crowd to your brand, your content marketing has to kill it.

The secret to content marketing is creating great content. Just like the secret to tennis is hitting the ball over the net.

Hitting the ball over the net takes practice. Working with a coach can make you better faster. There are practical strategies you can follow to improve your game.

The same is true for content. There are practical strategies you can follow to get you serving more aces in the content department.

With that in mind, here are our tips to help you get better at creating awesome content – you could say we’re your content coach:

How to Create Content Everyone Ignores

You really want to know how this is done?

Here you go: Write crappy headlines.

If your headlines suck, you might as well go home. Don’t bother creating content because everyone will ignore it.

The whole world is suffering from a severe bout of TMI. We’ve all got too much to do. We don’t need another article to read or another video to watch.

Your headlines must press the curiosity button in the brains of your audience.

Once you’ve got the click, you’ve won more than half the battle.

Top tip: Write headlines for social media. That means arousing curiosity without giving the game away. To see this being executed to perfection, take a look at the Upworthy Facebook page.

Want more? Check out our headline writing guide, so you’ll never write a weak headline again.

Learn How to Write for the Web

Remember at school when they taught you a paragraph must have at least five sentences? And you should never start a sentence with “and”?

Yeah, they were wrong about that. At least, if you’re creating web content, they were wrong.

The Internet has changed the way we read. That means content creators who want their articles read must write for the Internet.

When you’re writing content:

  • Shorter is better. That means short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Shorter is always better because short sentences are easier to read.
  • Use visual cues. Headings, bullet points, and bolded text guide your readers’ eyeballs down the screen. Your readers should be able to summarize your article without reading every word.
  • Write like you speak. Don’t try to recreate Shakespeare. Write in a conversational tone like you’re talking to a friend. Avoid jargon.

Top tip: When you’re creating your first draft, write as fast as you can. Writing fast gives your writing a fresh, conversational voice.

Notice What Pushes Your Buttons

Not all content is original. In fact, we agree with Jim Jarmusch when he said, “Nothing is original.”

By all means, blaze your own trail. But if you’re planning to go places, you’ll get further standing on the shoulders of giants.

It’s not about where you get your ideas; it’s about the unique mix you create and where you take the ideas.

When you’re looking for content to inspire you, notice what makes your spine tingle. If it pushes your buttons, your audience will probably feel the same way.

Care About Your Craft

We’re all media creators these days. You might not feel like a pro, but that’s no excuse for producing content like an amateur.

Those shaky videos you shot with a home camcorder back in the 1980s? Watching them might give you a warm glow, but it’s the 21st century now. We’ve got access to high quality, affordable equipment. As such, the content you create must ooze quality.

That’s not only true for videos. Your writing must kick ass. Your photos must be visually stunning. Your podcast must sound like a national radio show.

Sound intimidating? There are plenty of tutorials online to get you started.

Top tip: If you still feel overwhelmed, consider hiring outside help. Creating content that kills it takes skill and time. You can’t do everything on your own.

Tell Your Audience What You Want Them to Do

Creating content is pointless if it’s not leading your audience down the path toward your brand.

Content marketing isn’t about selling. Mix sales messages into your content, and you’ll scare people away. None of us like to be sold to.

But content marketing is about engaging your audience. An engaged audience reacts to what you do. They leave comments. They share your content with their friends. They sign up to your email list.

Whatever action you want your audience to take, tell them about it.

When you tell people what you want them to do, they’re more likely to do it.

Give Away Useful Stuff

If you’ve read anything about content marketing, you’ve probably seen the word “value” being kicked about.

To create good content, we’re told, we must create value.

But what the heck is value?

You create value whenever you do something useful for your readers. Maybe you teach them how to do something. Or your inspire them. Or you make them smile.

Value is making people’s lives better.

When you create content, you can’t hold back. If you’re not willing to give stuff away, then content marketing isn’t for you.

When you create content, a scarcity mindset will get you nowhere. Share your best ideas today. Trust that you’ll have an even better idea tomorrow.

Be a Content Architect

Let me tell you another secret about writing: at school, they teach you that writing is all about spelling and grammar. Perhaps they teach you a basic structure, like Introduction, Main Body, Conclusion.

That’s good to know, but it’s not really what good writing is about. Spelling and grammar are the last things you need to think about.

Good writing is about grabbing your reader by the eyeballs and taking them on a journey. You do this not by spelling correctly but by constructing your content in a powerful way.

Structures that work well include:

  • List posts. Numbered lists are priceless for getting attention. Just take a look a Buzzfeed for how it’s done.
  • Problem-Solution. Start with the problem and the impact it has on your readers’ lives. This shows them that you understand. Once they’re hooked, bring out your solution.
  • Step-by-step. Hold your reader’s hand through learning a new skill.
  • The rant. Controversy always draws a crowd.

Top tip: When you read a blog post that holds your attention, go back and read it a second time, taking apart the structure. You can learn a lot by seeing how other people structure their writing.

What Will Google Think?

The best way to hit the first page in Google is to create awesome content. You’ve learned how to do that.

But just because you’re focused on making great content doesn’t mean you can ignore SEO. Keywords and links still matter, so make sure you include them.

Top tip: Writing with search engines in mind helps you focus on the needs of your readers. After all, keywords are just the words real people use when they’re looking for stuff online.

Over to You

Here’s where we practice what we preach and include a call to action.

What strategies do you use to create amazing content? Go ahead and share your tips in the comments.

Lori R Taylor is the founder and executive editor of Social Caffeine. In 2009 she started her own direct response focused social media agency, REV Media Marketing LLC, coining the phrase given by her young son, “You bring the rain, we’ll make it pour.” Follow Lori on Twitter.

David Masters is our lead writer, idea spinner and super blogger. He’s British, and lives in Wales, but we don’t hold that against him. Follow David on Twitter.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Arrow January 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Love the tennis quote, the world is full of people telling but so few people showing. I wonder if its because they fear in showing someone how to do something they will lose a potential client?

I’m a big advocate of practicing something until you get it right, however it seems to be a popular consensus that you can only put out perfect content. So where do you get to practice? I say practice and keep going until your fingers bleed, and content creation becomes easier and natural.

And when it does, go back and edit your past efforts. Online content creation has a huge advantage over printed and offline materials, and that’s it can be corrected and perfected long after it’s published.

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David Spark January 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Sarah, thanks for loving my tennis quote. :)

I think we’re on the same wave length as we practice a lot on different content models before we actually pitch it to our clients. Our attitude is if we’re going to screw up, we’d rather screw up on ourselves than our clients. Nothing needs to be perfect as evidenced by the endless amount of non-perfect content that is still capable of drawing spectacular traffic.

I write a lot more about this subject in this article: The Worst Advice About Content Creation: http://www.sparkminute.com/2013/09/24/the-worst-advice-about-content-creation/

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