According to Mintel, 70 percent of American consumers shop online. That means more than 200 million people have access to your digital footprint. I’m no mathematician, but when we are looking at things on that scale, I’d say it’s pretty damn important to not only be proud of your organization’s online presence, but also constantly creating new, interesting content online.
However, too many businesses are focused on growing their digital footprint as opposed to improving it. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless. You can do a great job creating and sharing valuable content while still occupying a lackluster footprint. Sure it may have grown in sheer volume, but that just means you have more poor content out and about, representing your brand in a negative way.
Instead, focus on improving your business’ digital footprint. I’d suggest that you:
- Refresh poor or outdated content and create new content that is valuable.
- Distribute content that you truly want to have associated with your brand, and nothing else.
- Analyze what is working and what is not working in terms of engagement.
Do you see the difference between growing and improving now? Good. Here are some tips to help you follow through.
Creating [and Refreshing] Your Brand Content
Before doing anything, you need to define your content marketing strategy. When creating a well-defined content strategy, you must laser-focus on resolving the wants and needs of your target audience. Remember, it’s the wants and needs of your target audience — not the wants and needs of your organization.
Ask yourself, how does my business make a difference? Approach content marketing with the idea that you are in business to help people, then focus on what information you can share that truly helps and provides value.
The goal is to become an authority, or thought-leader, in your industry through the content you produce and share.
After a strategy is defined, in addition to the creation of new, high-quality content (and a lot of it!), work back through your brand’s messaging over the course of past few years. It is very important to have consistent messaging. You don’t want your prospects to see inconsistencies — they will be confused and it will lead to a negative user experience. Therefore, it is critical for you to be proud of all of the messaging on your website and social channels before distributing your content throughout the web and driving traffic back to your site. If you haven’t taken inventory of your brand’s content in the recent past, you might want to consider doing a full content audit to understand what’s working and what is not.
Distributing Your Brand Content
For that sake of this post, let’s say you’ve defined your content marketing strategy, tidied up your existing messaging, and began to create new, valuable content. Fantastic! The next step is to get it in front of your target audience.
The ways you distribute your content is even more important than the content itself, in many ways. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if your brand content is good or bad if no one is ever going to see it. And if no one sees it, then it was a waste of time.
“So, what distribution channels are out there?” Good question, but let’s try again.
“So, what distribution channels are right for my business?” Now we’re talking, because we’re talking about your business!
To properly identify the channels of content distribution that are best for your brand, it is wise to begin by analyzing your audience. Where do they spend time online? How to they find answers to their questions? What are their preferred methods of communication? As you begin answering these questions, your content channels will start to take form.
If you are just getting started with content creation and distribution, I’d suggest that you focus on one channel until you find a groove. Once you’ve nailed the nuances of that platform and successfully connected with your audience, it’s important to leverage multiple channels to generate optimal success. Channels such as email, paid and unpaid social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, etc.), Youtube and other video players, online publications and podcasts.
My personal favorite method of content distribution is email. A lot of people may try to tell you that email is dead. Please don’t listen to those people anymore. Email is roughly responsible for one-third of all the content we consume. It is one of the fastest ways to increase your digital footprint, it is easily measurable, you have the ability to control the audience, and nearly everyone interacts with it to gather and share information.
Whichever channels you choose, make sure you give your audience the opportunity to share, follow, subscribe, and above all else, CONTACT YOU!
Analyzing Your Brand Content
“So, what’s next?” I’m glad you asked! I strongly encourage you to track all of your efforts to gather data. After you have a sizeable amount, it is time to interpret those results and draw conclusions. Leverage it to better understand your audience in an effort to learn more about what type of content they want to consume and how they want it served. For this step to be effective, you’ll need to have experimented with many different forms of content (written, videos, infographics, ebooks, podcasts, etc.) and delivery channels to gather appropriate data. Even after you’ve discovered what works best for your business, don’t be afraid to continue to try new things and challenge the status quo.
At the end of the day, there are many channels to choose from, but the important thing is that you’re proud of the content that you distribute throughout the channels you identify. It is much easier to improve your online footprint when it’s spearheaded by great content that your audience actually wants. That’s how you establish thought leadership and keep your brand top-of-mind.