Content marketing is all about creating insanely great content for people.
Old-fashioned SEO was pretty much the opposite. SEO used to be all about jiggering the technical pieces for search engines.
In today's content marketing environment, it's essential to keep your target audience at the front and center of your strategy.
If you don't focus on people, you will get crushed in today's content game.
Ask questions like, "How do I want someone to feel when they read my content?" or "What do I want them to do once they're done with it?"
With a people-centric focus in mind, here are a few ways that you can leverage today's content marketing trends to help you craft a strategy that works:
Insane competition makes it all the more important to hone your message.
I hate to say it, but the days of getting noticed by tapping into current events are all but over for the little guy.
Why? Because everyone is doing that. Breaking news inspires droves of content and everyone's individualized take on the topic. Competition is higher than ever before and will only continue to rise.
And guess what. That's a good thing.
While the herd of content marketers chases the next shiny thing, you have a chance to set yourself apart. When everyone else zigs, my instinct is always to zag. Yours should be as well.
Instead of looking outward to spot the next pop culture phenomenon on which to pounce, look inward and focus on your message -- what you do, why you do it, how you're different, what you believe, how you want people to feel when they're done reading your work and what you want them to do about it.
Knowing that everyone else is out there chasing the next big thing helps you resist the temptation to do the same. Focusing on your message is the difference between getting 10 people to read one of your pieces and getting one person to read all 10, and eagerly awaiting the next one.
The former breeds traffic, but the latter breeds loyalty and long-term success.
Give the power to the people.
When people post their awesome fisheye snowboarding or surfing videos on Instagram and tag GoPro, who are they doing it for? Are they doing it for GoPro?
No. They are doing it for themselves.
Their intention isn't necessarily to help that brand. Instead, they want their moment of triumph to be recognized by others.
By framing their content marketing approach in this way, GoPro gets massive participation that does indeed build their brand. Each piece of content serves as a ringing endorsement that reaches beyond a single customer's immediate circle.
GoPro videos are the real thing -- real customers using the product in exciting ways. It's truly authentic.
How does GoPro do it?
I can't even tell you how many companies talk the talk when it comes to user-generated content, but few companies actually commit to it as absolutely as GoPro.
They create a story in which the customers are a the lead. Whether it's surfing, skiing, or jumping off a cliff, GoPro is dedicated to celebrating the people who push the limits, and they want to give those people the tools to capture those insane moments of freedom and adrenaline.
They also make the recruitment of this content a core element of their communication. User-generated content is their method of choice, and it's working pretty darn well.
They have a highly visible, highly engaged social media presence that's always sharing customer content and asking you to submit yours. They have the GoPro Awards, where they award up to $5 million annually to the best content submitted to them.
GoPro's strategy makes customers feel like it's about them, and that will always inspire greater participation than when it's about the brand. By successfully making this switch, GoPro can forge a direct bond with their customers, which breeds invaluable loyalty.
Integrate with social media.
With more and more users getting their content directly from social media, that means that we have to keep raising our distribution standard there as well.
Take Facebook's Instant Articles as an example. With content created directly on Facebook getting more engagement than off-Facebook links shared on the platform, Instant Articles gives people a way to publish content directly onto Facebook.
With this type of content getting more play on Facebook, it's up to us as content marketers to seek out these kinds of features and use them to make our content more visible.
As Facebook sees positive results from this switch, other platforms will continue in its path.
Content marketing is getting more and more crowded, but that can actually be a good thing.
There's a herd mentality to what most people are doing, which gives you the chance to diverge.
With seemingly everyone having something to say, you can avoid chasing the latest big story, focus on what makes you unique and build a tribe around it.
So, before you get cracking on your next piece of content, take a step back and ask yourself, How do I want a reader to feel, and what do I want them to do about it?
What modern trends are helping you to refine your content marketing strategy?