Oprah Winfrey once said that ‘helping others is the way we help ourselves’. And when it comes to the world of branded content, these wise words speak a whole lot of truth. (If you’re wondering what Oprah Winfrey has to do with content marketing, the answer is not much… but do we need a reason to quote one of the most legendary people of our time?)
The insight-led video strategy and production agency Hub, recently did a ‘Help and How To Content’ talk as part of their ‘Help, Hero and Hub’ series. Though Hub’s focus is notably on video, its perceptive talk paired with this roundup post has got us thinking about the handy benefits of ‘help’ content, and why we love using it for our clients, too.
Help content (sometimes referred to as ‘hygiene’ content) is regularly produced online content that provides genuinely useful information or instructions to readers. Because it’s the kind of content that offers answers to real queries – aka that people are actually searching for online – it’s a great way for a brand to connect with its audience in a positive, nurturing way. This kind of content can come in the form of FAQ-style posts, how-to guides, instructional videos, workshops and more.
Read on to find out how the production of ‘help content’ could reap great rewards for your brand.
Help content can increase your visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs), particularly when it comes to targeting those long-tail keywords that can really build up your website’s depth and authority on a certain subject. When you produce optimised help content, you’re automatically writing for people that are searching the internet with intent. They have questions and you can provide search-worthy, specific answers, giving you an opportunity to place your brand in the palm of their hands –right when they need it most. And with Google’s featured snippets (or answer boxes) there’s even more of an incentive for brands to offer useful information and make their way up the SERPs while increasing clicks and traffic. For those that are unfamiliar with answer box results, they’re one of Google’s best UX features, in which the search engine displays a snippet of relevant text from a site in a box above all other organic results.
Being a brand that offers genuinely insightful information around a specific industry topic is a great way to achieve brand authority. Not only does it make you authoritative to Google, through your click rate and backlinks, but it also makes you an authoritative voice to your readers. By actively researching what people are trying to find out, and then showcasing your brand’s knowledge on the subject, you’re automatically bolstering your reputation as a ‘go-to’ for this type of query. This will also help build trust between consumer and company, making the consumer confident when it comes to investing in your brand.
If you’ve ever had a crisis management meeting, you’ll know what a slog it can be to rebuild a brand from the ashes. Whether you’ve become known for a faulty product, poor service or have encountered some bad press, one way to regain your audience is through showing them you’re a brand to be taken seriously – one that offers sound advice. It’s also a benefit worth noting that if this insightful content is a success, it will help to remove negative press in the SERPs too. Through producing well-optimised content that ranks well, you could end up pushing older news further down in the SERP, therefore making it less visible to users.
Nobody likes a company that just takes, takes, takes – without giving anything back. All brands are here to solve a problem, and as soon as they lose sight of that, their purpose will waver. Therefore, offering help content is a sure-fire way to reinforce your ‘raison d'être’, providing something useful to your audience that isn’t ‘just another sales pitch’. This online content will help your prospective customers, while informing them of the value of your product indirectly.
Another great thing about help content is that it can open you up to a whole new set of audiences. Some people may never search your brand in relation to your offering – for example, ‘running gear’ – but they will search ‘how to train for a marathon’. This is where you can step in. Tell them what they want to know and show them that you’re an expert on the subject. In doing so, you’ll also let them know your brand is a viable option when they do come to think about making a related purchase.
In today’s competitive world, it’s no longer enough to simply push sales directly. As said by American salesman Zig Ziglar, people don’t only buy for logical reasons but emotional, too – you need to sell your customers a story. Help content provides a great way to do this, allowing you to promote yourself in an organic way through weaving your product or service into a genuinely helpful narrative. In other words, you’re not simply pushing your product mindlessly in front of people (whether they want to see it or not), but are providing them with something of real value (aka expert information). Feeling grateful for the help, and not jaded by sales attempts, the consumer is more likely to view your product or service in a positive light.
Help content isn’t necessarily unique, nor is it a new model, but it’s used time and time again because it works. What’s more, though, the technique is a traditional one, nobody else can be your brand. With a bit of creativity, proficiency and the production of truly well-thought out help content, there’s no reason why your brand can’t make its mark.