Marketers strive to create the right content for their audience; However, the job does not end there. Keeping their audience actively engaged with the content is an art in and of itself. Here are seven tips to keep in mind when creating branded content.
Tip 1: Tell an interesting story.
It seems like a no brainer but it’s typically the hardest to achieve. Readers can spot an advertisement from a mile away and they’re much less inclined to share an ad than a piece of content they engaged with on a personal level. We’ve found that simply mentioning the advertiser by name multiple times reduces the likelihood of a reader sharing a piece of content. Instead, think about what they want to consume and share: unique or helpful information.
It’s not about selling a product, but selling the expertise or “thought leadership” a brand has to offer its audience. Readers can spot the difference between press releases and content marketing, so it’s imperative brands also understand this. For example, would you rather read “Why Our Diapers are the Best” or “10 Ways to Prepare Your Household for a Baby”? While the former may contain some useful information to new parents, the latter establishes the brand as a thought leader in the space while also creating a conversation and showing that they care about their audience beyond just their product.
Tip 2: Break text up.
Creating benchmarks within the content makes it easier for readers to make their way to the end. Subheadings, numbered lists, bulleted information and embedded tweets/videos/inline images/etc. are great ways to do this. Short paragraphs make it easier for the reader to digest while long paragraphs can scare off readers.
Tip 3: Headlines & images matter.
A reader’s attention span is very short and they need to be convinced quickly to take a longer look. The right image, especially those that are high quality, can make all the difference. There are lots of great image resources out there (including many that are free!), so take your time in finding an image that’ll grab your reader’s attention.
Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula to creating a great headline. There are some practices that can help, but these tactics generally have the same aim: to pique the reader’s interest without giving away too much. The job of the headline is to capture the reader’s attention, and there are an infinite number of ways to do that. Not surprisingly, a numbered list, “How-to’s, asking a question and stating a command are effective ways to give the reader a preview of what’s to come. Similarly, if there’s something particularly noteworthy in the article, like a recognizable name or brand, mentioning that in the headline is another way to make it more eye-catching. It is also important that the headline relates directly to the content.
Tip 4: Long-form can work.
Short blog posts (400-600 words) are easy to digest, but longer posts (1,000+) can work just as well, and sometimes better. Longer articles that perform well tend to be well researched and contain interesting and educational information. So don’t make a long post for the sake of length — do it because the story demands it.
Tip 5: Utilize high profile writers.
We always recommend including a byline on an article to increase its credibility. If the writer is a thought leader/expert in the field or has great credentials (published in well-known publications, for example) don’t be shy about showing it off. Readers are more willing to engage with a person than a brand. Include a very brief writer bio in the byline or at the end of the piece, or find an alternate way of telling your readers that this person really knows their stuff.
Tip 6: Use multiple writers.
Different voices and approaches will improve the overall impact of your blog. With multiple voices, you will increase the likelihood of attracting and engaging a wider audience. And collaboration breeds creativity, which is sure to help your blog.
Tip 7: Give your writers freedom.
Of course, their work needs to align with your brand objectives, but too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin a potentially great piece of content. From choosing topics to word choice, try to defer to the writer when possible. Picking topics is especially important; a writer picks a topic because they think it’s interesting — and when they think it’s interesting, it almost always results in a better and more engaging piece of content for readers.
Zoe Vournas – Manager, Client Services at PulsePoint - and her team's focus is to help each client drive meaningful engagement with their target audience through the amplification of valuable, high quality content.
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