Over 3 years and 127 Episodes - QueensCast was a diehard grassroots sports network dedicated to Women's Soccer. Additionally, I was incredibly blessed with the rare opportunity to have free creative reign on the episode posters - I will forever be proud of all the content that we produced.
Now more than ever, we're surrounded by media, OTT insertions, marketing bots and AI algorithms trying to find the shortest route to your spending triggers. But the truth is that more and more consumers see your messaging as nothing more than a sales pitch. Consumer want more than simply beautiful photos and lush copywriting – they want an education.
"Content is king" – if I read this from one more guru in their "new year's marketing trends that will shock you!" post, I'm going to eat a fucking bullet. Much like responsive design, if you don't know (and are implementing) it already, then you need to be reading someone else. I can't throw you a rope. That said, we need to make content into something that:
Creates a thorough understanding not only of your services, but what the consumer should be looking for.
“Opens the kimono” to offer education in a transparent way, even advocating they seek out your competitors for comparison. If what you offer is that good – they'll return; and with a built-in sense of loyalty.
Creates a sense that you WANT user feedback, and shows your ongoing willingness (within your contextual marketing) that you're seeking to further refine your education.
Crafts the perception that problems can be uniquely solved with your service.
Shows both the pros and cons of your products.
Spotlights the future growth or roadmap of said products/services. Many people (both B2C, B2B, B2E, and others) often hold great confidence in brands that show they intend to evolve their products regardless of the point at which you purchase. This, done well, will also create a sense of urgency that NOW is the time to be part of "X."
Holds the consumer's hand — and not in a condescending way. The more you guide them, the more apt they will be to default to you.
A few brands doing it right:
Who else are you seeing online that seems to be educating, rather than selling? I look forward to your feedback.
Cast your final spell to seek engagement!
EXAMPLE – DIY Article on "X"
Open the article with what quick summary of the article is about, how it will benefit the reader and what can be gained. Perhaps even a 'bullet list' — people LOVE lists.
This pays off the “what's in it for me?” (WIIFM) right away.
If you've lured them to keep reading, then you can begin breaking down the "why they need this" and fold them into the product, process or education you’re trying to share.
The more a reader commits to an article, the more likely they are to complete it. Now, there are some cases where this simply doesn't apply, like white papers or formal presentations.
BLOGGER TIP: Do you have a long-ass post like this? Cut it into logical segments and make it a multi-part post like I did here (this is part three of three). That way, one long post turns into more checkmarks on your content calendar then a single blog post that some might shy away from.
Last, and perhaps most importantly: Unless your content is strictly sales-oriented, do your best not to sell in blogs. The challenge is not to avoid talking about your products and services, but more naturally weave it into the conversation.
Example [BAD]: "The new BRAND camera is the best on the market and we're the best place for you to get it!"
Example [GOOD]: "The latest BRAND camera offers some of the newest features you're sure to love. We've been using this camera since we got the first one in, and we'll show you all the tips and tricks to take breathtaking images."
The first example is a bold call-to-action (CTA). This might work as an advertisement, but even then I doubt I'd use it. The second statemen:
Compliments the new product
Differentiates the product from its predecessors
Shows that, like you, we really LOVE photography
Conveys that we want to explore the item educationally, not simply sell it
NOW YOU MUST SUMMON THE VOICE!
When we read something, we cast a voice in our head that reads it to us. THAT'S WHY ALL CAPS READS SO LOUD! Therefore, ensure that the emotional, educational, or narrative voice you're using fits the content.
Use a supporting image for your post. Not only will this amp up the personalization of an article, but if you set it up properly, it will also become the preview that shows in social posts. Images are a MUST. Better than that? Videos. If you have a video that supports your content, you've done half the heavy lifting. In fact, if you've done a great video, I often recommend a minimal amount of copy after the video.
BLOGGER TIP: Gauge your audience type – professional publications serve up stock photos all the time, they're almost a gross prerequisite of professionalism (like a tie, or expensive purse). But if you're conveying a cool, trending product or service, the expectation is that those visuals will be both original and interestingly related to the content.
When it comes to the length of an article, you can shoot the moon. But remember that different lengths are good for different purposes. #TWSS
Super-short posts are best for generating discussion, or as a social media post. Regardless of how long your blog post is, you'll be using your social media channels to share it. Therefore, if your post is SO short that it doesn't pay itself off when your audience clicks-through to read it, then it might be a letdown. Therefore, short posts rarely get many shares on social media, and they’re horrible for SEO. But if you want a lot of comments, then write short posts.
This is pretty standard blogging and email length, and it's often recommended by many “expert” bloggers. Take that for what it's worth. Don’t forget to link to sources, alt-tag your images, and end with a question to start engagement.
BLOGGER TIP: You should know the age of your readers. On average, the younger your audience is, the shorter the content.
If “School House Rock” had a song called "Groovin' to Blog Town," it would use this as the magic number for professional journalism — especially online magazines, and newspapers.
From this point forward, you might get fewer comments at this length. Why? Because people are lazy and that's a lot of words read. BUT — you’ll get a lot more shares. Why? Because when you share longer articles, you look smarter. (I never said this was sexy.) You'll also find that longer articles are better at solving problems simply because the author has taken more time to be granular about the subject matter.
The highest-ranking SEO ranked articles on Google are 2,500 words or more. This is often because you justify, analyze, or debate your subject matter to the point that the search engine perceives you as having more authority on the subject compared a brief post.