While it's generally accepted that content marketing should be at the heart of a future-proof digital marketing strategy, many have learned the hard way that it's difficult to make it stick.
Content creation and the pursuit of virality requires a significant investment in terms of time and resources, but these alone are not enough to achieve compelling content which drives links, traffic and social shares. There are a number of key considerations which you should keep in mind as you plan content campaigns.
Is there an audience and how transitory is it?
Once you have a number of broad content themes, you should check to see how large the respective audience is, and allow this logic to be a deciding factor when selecting your theme. Look at search volume around the head term and its derivative keywords; if there is a large number of monthly searches, internet users are more likely to discover it organically. Using sites such as Buzzsumo allows you to take a look at how much successful content already exists - and how often it is published! If content in this theme is released frequently, it might be best to dismiss it as it is less likely to stand out.
You should also settle on a theme which has longevity, with the objective of producing content which will always be relevant and of interest. For example, content about Kim Kardashian might not be interesting in a few years' time, whereas content about global warming stands a better chance of being evergreen.
Does the content appeal to the end user?
When producing content, it's important that it bears some relevance to the product or company hosting it. A piece about animal psychology won't be as relevant to a company which sells cleaning products as it will be to a pet store company.
Once you have identified an interesting content theme with sufficient search volume which is relevant to your brand, think about how to make it reflect your brand's offering. It should drive conversions and trust, but in a subtle way - content which has been created to outright sell your product will often turn people off from sharing and linking to it. For a cleaning product brand, this could be about the importance of keeping your home clean rather than about the products themselves.
Consider how it will be shared
People tend to share things which their network will appreciate - or rather what they think their network will appreciate - this concept is known as social currency, and is a central aspect of the psychology behind online sharing.
You can tap into this by imbuing your content with surprising information, emotional or amusing triggers and genuine usefulness. Shares are so often framed within "Did you know that..?", "This makes my heart sink/sing" and "Interesting graphic shows…" propositions, which in turn drive click-through rates.
Make it easy to share your content
Sharing prompts should be included in each section of the content to enable sharing of a specific illustration, block quote or graph, as well as the whole piece. The reason for this is that content is shared in different ways on each social media platform, and creating pre-written share messages will facilitate the diffusion of your content.
As a rule of thumb, Twitter shares should always contain shortened URLs to respect the character limit as well as show your handle, whereas Facebook shares should contain an image of the specific part of the content which was shared. If somebody chooses to share a section, make sure that you have pre-written a summary of that block for social sharing so that it can be understood outside of the context of the whole article or added on to by the sharer. Doing this makes your content easy to share, and hands you control in terms of avoiding social media users seeing the same share over and over.
Keep the above things in mind, and your content stands a better chance of fulfilling business objectives and obtaining virality!