It’s 2013 and all bets are off when it comes to SEO tweaks and tricks. With a new year comes new strategies, and at the moment it’s all about producing high quality content. I’m talking about that head turning, juicy, delicious content you can’t help but sink your teeth into. The type of content even your competitors would link to. Content that’s guaranteed to get tons of comments and hundreds of shares on social media. At the same time, you have to produce a lot of it, and do it fast.
As a result, content creators are drawing blanks. It’s hard being constantly fresh and new, and doing it under a time limit is even more frustrating. Yet through our struggle we seem to forget a lot about some of the easiest, most authentic content available to us and produced on a daily basis: our experiences.
Some of the best content on the web today comes from companies that are not afraid to be completely transparent with their marketing strategies and business projects. Obviously there are some pretty big risks involved with this, especially when you know your competitors are following your every move. But when done delicately and efficiently, these posts promote confidence, inspire customer loyalty, and build genuine brand identity.
Here I’ll discuss a little more about my own adventures with project transparency and show you how to break it down so that it translates well to written and mixed media content. Once you’ve gone through, take the first step and share some of your own experiences with transparency in the comments below.
Moving Away From Traditional SEO
In Jacob’s earlier article, “Goodbye 2012, and Goodbye SEO!” he discussed how the SEM game has really taken a big 180 degree turn. In the past, SEO strategists would gather on secret forums or private chat rooms to discuss complex link building strategies and various other tweaks that were designed to systematically build PageRank and drive more traffic to your site.
Google caught on pretty quickly to these tactics and with updates to their algorithm like Penguin and Panda, they’ve effectively obliterated all of them. Sure there’s still a lot of shady SEO work going on and people who refuse to play along with Google’s game, but for companies that would rather focus on building a business, this basically changed everything.
Even building rank in the SERPs is something of an enigma nowadays. With local and personalized searches effectively taking up more and more traffic every day, you could argue that there really isn’t such thing as being “first” anymore. It’s really all about building a business community. To focus your attention on creating original content that attracts visitors naturally.
You need creative, quality, original content. You also need a lot of it and fast. So what can you do? Let’s say you have a small marketing team that handles this for you, or that you’re a lone entrepreneur that conquers everything on your own. You guys find a great topic to write about and then produce an 8000 word mini ebook talking about it. You share it on social media, respond to comments and go the whole nine yards with this bad boy. Two weeks later, you’re ready to start again.
Two weeks! How the heck did time fly so fast? How are you going to speed things up without losing quality? What about actually running your business and making some money? These are just a few of the issues you’ll encounter with a small staff.
Let’s say you’re on the other end. Working at or running a big shot company with an entire marketing army at your command. Maybe you outsource your content marketing instead, relying on big content producers abroad to run your creative department. I can see these strategies taking a turn for the worst very fast.
On the one hand, with an entire army of people to work on your marketing team, you’ll be dishing out a massive amount of new content every day. By the end of the year you would have hundreds of articles on talking about everything you could possibly think of concerning your industry niche. Your social media networks would be so saturated with posts that it would have become borderline spammy. Producing a lot of content is good, but doing too much will inevitably sacrifice quality and creativity at some point.
As for outsourcing, this can be extremely risky and the pay off won’t be anywhere near what you’d like it to be. Most of these individuals spin articles like professional disc jockeys and whenever they happen to produce something original, it’s some of the most generic, poorly written, cookie cutter content you’ll ever lay eyes on.
So how do you produce fantastic creative content at a moderately fast pace with enough to keep talking about for a lifetime?
The Transparent Content Marketing Strategy
The easiest, fastest way to produce some of the best content on the web is by being transparent and authentic. Whether you’re committed to providing resourceful materials that make your readers think and applaud you for your insight, or if you’re hell bent on entertaining and attracting new visitors, your brand identity makes a promise to deliver that content no matter what.
It’s all about building trust and loyalty. But you can’t have that nowadays without being genuine. I’m a content writer at USB Memory Direct, where every day is a constant battle for creating bold, new, quality content. Talking about flash drives was easy at first, exploring ways in explaining how our products are useful to marketers and small business promotions.
But pretty soon we reached a dead end. There was nothing new to add, nothing original to say except announcing new discount offers or holiday special deals coming up in our monthly newsletter. It was a bit of a drag until we thought of a new strategy.
Our flash drives are for promotional purposes which mean you can customize them with your company logos and artwork. One of our clients named UPSO is a very talented graphic artist who decided to add his own unique artwork to one of our drives. The final product came out so good that we just had to talk about them in a post. The post was incredibly successful and even attracted some of UPSO‘s colleagues to buy drives from us as well.
From there we decided to feature many of our most creative and interesting client projects on our site in a sort of “portfolio” showcases our work. In it we would describe more about the client, their story, and how our products have helped grow their business in a positive way. We also got to talk more about the manufacturing process behind the drive that allowed us to naturally promote our additional services and features. This was a great way to nurture a solid relationship with our clients and build trust with new customers as well.
Going forward we became more open with our clients about the company and how we provide services to them. In your own content marketing strategy, you can produce endless amounts of new quality content that people are actually interested in reading just by being authentic with them. Here are just a few ways you could add authentic content:
- Talk about how you implemented a new, more efficient customer service response system, or many the quarterly earnings for your company.
- Talk about a project you worked on with a client (with the client’s permission, of course). It’s free content and your client will appreciate the exposure!
- If your social networks grew in follower counts recently, mention what you believe caused the spike, don’t just celebrate the bump.
- Discuss a recent failure the company has had. What you learned from the experience, and what you’re going to change moving forward.
- Feature a company back story, new employee profiles, and any events outside of work that your business takes part in. Add new photos and images from these events as well.
- Do a case study or interview a relevant authority in your market niche.
- If you went to a seminar, talk about what you learned, (or didn’t learn).
- Post a video instead of just writing an article about something.
- Tell cool and interesting stories that you encounter as a business and as individuals.
These types of stories will always change because the times are always changing. People come and go, companies go through good and bad times. There will always be something new and interesting to talk about because running a business is a 24/7/365 job. Try to implement this tactics for your creative content strategy in 2013, and I promise the results will be anything but ordinary.
Vincent Clarke is a marketing specialist for USB Memory Direct, specializing in outreach, content strategy, and community relations. You can catch him on Twitter at @_vhclarke.