18 Content Creation Tips and Truths From a Year of Content Chat
December 19, 2019
by Alek Irvin Leave a Comment
2019 was yet another successful year for the #ContentChat community—we covered more than 40 pressing topics for marketers, welcomed 10 experts to the hot seat, and a handful of us were even able to meet outside the cyberspace at great events like CMWorld and local content marketing meetups.
Looking back on our chats from the year, we’ve pulled 18 of the best content creation tips and truths of marketing to set you up for success in 2020 and beyond. Check them out below, and comment if we missed any of your favorite marketing tips from this year.
Truth: Content that is not created with your customer needs in mind is not content marketing.
The customer should be at the heart of everything you do as a marketer. Whether it’s a press release about your new product, an infographic on your data report, or a webinar discussing trends in your industry, your content should be geared toward addressing the problems of your customers and helping them do their jobs better.
A1. Truly successful companies are not ego driven, they strive to fix a problem in the marketplace. Think about what your fans want to see, not what you want to project. If your executive doesn’t get that, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. #ContentChat https://t.co/ogFGRzwoNW
— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 30, 2019
Tip: For any one piece of content you create, have three uses for it.
One of the best ways to stay budget conscious is to repurpose your work. For any single piece of content, explore the different ways that your customers prefer to be reached and how this content could find new life in a different format. Consider the different channels you could share the content on, or different forms it can take (i.e. a video can be turned into a blog post with an infographic for social). We’ve shared some ideas to get you started in this recap .
A1: Always has been, always will be. My mantra for any one piece of content is that if you haven’t used it three times, you’ve wasted it. #contentchat
— Derek Pillie (@derekpillie) May 6, 2019
Tip: Keep your content accessible.
Quick consideration for the above tip—if you’re experimenting with new content types, research best practices for that specific format before starting your project. For example, videos should have subtitles to not only keep your content accessible for individuals with hearing impairments, but to also allow the content to be watched and understood anywhere.
A6 Subtitles are a must IMO. A lot of consumption happens when you don’t have the luxury of sound. #contentchat
— Tweets by Eric (@nymelonballer) April 22, 2019
Tip: Cite data and research sources that are no more than five years old.
Data you cite should preferably be from the past year or two, with a maximum of five years depending on the topic and frequency of new research on that subject. That means if you link to an article from last year that cites data from 2002, you should find a new reputable source. It’s especially important to be transparent about data sources and to help your reader find the actual source of your stat, instead of forcing them to dig through linked article upon linked article to verify the validity of your sources.
A2. One of the worst culprits of unethical marketing is not sourcing properly (imo). Links should go to the *original* source, not just another source that is quoting the original source. #contentchat pic.twitter.com/w168oKlF6K
— PathFactory (@pathfactory) January 28, 2019
Tip: Break down departmental silos to boost your efficiency and results.
Marketing, public relations, sales, and customer success teams are serving the same (or at least very similar) audiences for a company, but each team has its own unique insights and resources for success. Encourage collaboration across your departments to gain deeper insights on your customers, learn how to better approach them with the content they need, and ensure alignment during quarterly or annual planning seasons. Check out our deep-dive on aligning with your sales team for more tips and best practices.
A2 Here are three quick and easy ways content marketers can provide value to the sales team:
– Incorporate marketing content into onboarding and continuous training.
– Map select content to sales processes.
– Use content as pass-through materials for customers. #ContentChat
— Kristen Hicks (@atxcopywriter) January 14, 2019
Tip: Use creative briefs.
We know, many marketers dread the thought of completing creative briefs. But, when it comes to staying aligned with other departments (or your clients), these briefs are the most efficient way to keep your whole team on the same page for any project. By having everyone discuss/review/agree on the brief, your team can easier understand the multiple priorities at play, the roles of each team, and the most efficient path to complete the project. Learn the best way to navigate creative briefs in this 101 .
A2a: A creative brief is your opportunity to get everyone on the same page as to the goals of your content, and what succes looks like. It prompts you to provide details+resources for your content creator. #ContentChat
— Derek Pillie (@derekpillie) February 11, 2019
Tip: Protect your ethical integrity.
As marketers, we have a responsibility to provide accurate and honest information so that our audiences can make informed decisions that impact their livelihood. Some business leaders or your colleagues could be inclined to stretch the truth or blur lines when it’s beneficial for the company. Or, they may use their positions of power to try and influence you to engage in unethical tactics. Know that it is always OK to say no, especially if something conflicts with your own moral compass. If you want to learn more on the topic, check out this conversation on ethical marketing .
A2. I always feel uncomfortable when I’m asked to stretch the truth. I have to say no, no matter the cost. I won’t do anything that will keep me up at night. #ContentChat https://t.co/prvJp5S9s0
— David Simanoff (@dsimanoff) January 28, 2019
Truth: Inspiration can strike anywhere, so bring a pen.
Marketers are usually juggling multiple priorities and tasks at any given moment, meaning random inspiration for that blog you just logged out of or a breakthrough idea for your social copy could pop up and then disappear, anywhere at any time. Make sure you can capture these ideas, whether it’s in a notebook, on your favorite note-taking app, through a voice message, or simply a quick scribble on your hand that you’ll transcribe for safekeeping later, so you never miss out on a great idea.
A1: I always have a notebook to capture blog post ideas when they come at me while I’m having conversations or just out & about. I also look at website search queries, @answerthepublic , @BuzzSumo etc. to see what folks are talking about that I can put my own spin on. #ContentChat https://t.co/0vOWmNTQtU
— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) April 22, 2019
Tip: Put paid promotion behind successful content.
When you have an asset that is performing well organically, put some paid social media promotion behind it. Social media ad campaigns can be incredibly cost-efficient, and when a piece is already performing well it could be a great resource to get in front of other prospective customers.
A8: My best advice is to take a piece of branded content that is already doing well on social and put some $$$ behind it. Boost a post to a look-alike audience for customers that you already have, or for people who already like your page. #contentchat
— Caitlin Kinser (@caitlinmarie89) April 22, 2019
Truth: Content is about more than customer acquisition.
Some marketers solely focus their content on customer acquisition, which is a heavily misguided approach. As we mentioned above, you have to keep your customer needs in mind with all your content. And those needs don’t stop after they send their first payment to you. Nurture your community with additional support articles, training opportunities, and surveys to gauge how you can improve what you provide. If you only focus on getting new customers, you’ll lose your current ones, and probably leave them with a sour taste in their mouth.
Yeah, so many are 100% focused on getting new customers.
It is kind of silly. Customer retention, cross- and up-selling should be a focus. Spend leftover budget on getting new customers.
— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) April 29, 2019
Tip: Break out of your comfort zone to perform at your best.
It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone with our professional life, but that regularity can stifle creativity or lead to missed opportunities if left unchecked. Challenge your routine by saying yes to projects you usually wouldn’t, reading or listening to content that is not related to your industry (that can include fiction books!), or attending conferences of any sort. A few examples and thought starters are below, and go here for even more tips on breaking out of your comfort zone .
A3. Some ways to step outside of your comfort zone:
-Say yes to projects that you don’t normally work on
-Try a different content format instead of your regular (blog posts in my case)
-Read, read, and read (can be SO inspirational)
-Work in a different niche #ContentChat
— Berrak Sarikaya | B2B Strategist (@BerrakBiz) May 6, 2019
Tip: Find a peer to bounce ideas off of.
It’s no secret that our best work usually comes when we work in teams to brainstorm and chat through ideas. That said, the always growing to-do list can bump brainstorms down on the priority scale, which shouldn’t happen. Prioritize time to chat with your colleagues or peers, whether it’s on the phone, online , or in person.
To piggyback on this, I find inspiration in talking to others – when you work from home & are alone a lot, you forget how much you can get just from a phone call. Or from Twitter exchanges. I take A LOT of inspiration from Twitter. #contentchat https://t.co/fca0WPLvjw
— HeidiCohen #CMWorld 2019 Speaker (@heidicohen) May 6, 2019
Truth: A topic is only as “boring” as you make it.
No topic is inherently boring. Yes, certain fields may get very technical or can be heavily regulated and limit what can/cannot be discussed, but at the core of every industry are people with problems that need to be solved. When faced with a “boring” topic, revisit the people behind the story, the challenges they face, and a solution they can put into action. Also, bring in unique insights from your company executives to paint a better picture of a topic and make it more relevant for your readers. At a minimum, consider including visuals in any content to spice it up, but there are plenty of other areas you can address , too.
A1: Irrelevancy, no insights, no takeaways, no strategy, and no direction. If the content serves virtually no purpose or doesn’t say anything new, then it’s a boring (and possibly frustrating) topic for your audience and should not be written. #ContentChat
— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) April 15, 2019
Tip: Create industry-relevant reports by blending your proprietary data with findings from customer, partner, and thought leader surveys.
Data is a goldmine for storyline potentials, it’s just a matter of finding those nuggets. Regularly survey your customers, partners, and thought leaders to learn what’s top-of-mind for them, especially as it relates to other trends or topics in your space. Use these findings to help inform your future content direction, and combine the anonymized findings (where appropriate) with other research or expert commentary to create an industry-relevant report. These reports typically have a long-tail return, as they will be linked to for years to come (if they’re high quality, so don’t just slap a company logo on a doc that’s filled with bullet points of raw data). Learn more about how you can use proprietary research to fuel your content marketing strategy in this recap of our chat.
A2: 1- Surveys with customers
2 – Customer usage
— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) June 3, 2019
Truth: Long-form content is needed (and probably welcomed by your customers).
Related to our comfort zones and specific industries of choice, marketers may be in a position where they exclusively create short-form content, or exclusively long form. While definitely more time and resource intense, long-form content is highly valuable for your audience, because it allows you to more thoroughly explore a topic or address an area they are interested in.
A2: Research shows blog posts over 1,000 words get more shares, Longer pieces convert 30-50% better. And posts over 1,000 words dominate page one in Google. Average word for the top spot: 1890. #contentchat
Sources all included here: https://t.co/X5JF1UIKl0
— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) May 13, 2019
Truth: Multi-touch attribution is the only way to accurately understand the value of your work.
In the simplest terms, an attribution strategy is how marketers can measure how a piece of content is helping to lead to a sale. Oversimplification of the definition aside, nearly half of marketers are not using a formal lead attribution strategy, and another ~20% are using strategies that over-rely on “easy data.” Both of these are a major problem. More marketers need to adopt multi-touch attribution strategies to more accurately assess their content performance and needs.
So, for me, reviewing the research data, this was more than a little alarming from a marketing perspective. If you aren’t measuring customer touchpoints beyond first or last touch (or, at all), that means you are basing your marketing spend off “your gut”. #ContentChat
— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 1, 2019
Tip: Leverage user-generated content for authentic story ideas.
Whether you like it or not, your customers are probably talking about you online. Some of the time, it’s the dreaded internet venting, but there are also times where your customers are praising you, sharing their stories, and creating materials that showcase your brand in its best light (through the eyes of your customers). Build campaigns that encourage this type of content by leveraging custom hashtags so you can easily find and sort through this content.
We have a # on Instagram that we use and promote to our followers to use. Once every week or two we’ll re-post one of the user posts with the # and that always creates engagement and encourages more people to post because they hope that we’ll feature them. #contentchat