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Someone once said: "there is nothing new in the world, just new ways of doing things." Nowhere is that statement more true than in the world of digital media. People didn’t suddenly start communicating with their customers when Facebook and Twitter were created, any more than they did with television, radio and the printed word.
'Content marketing’ is not a new concept per se, but the packaging has significantly changed with the advent of digital communications.
Content has to work harder now than ever before; the sheer number of messages being transmitted and received everyday is unimaginable – it is estimated that over 100 billion emails are sent every day, with over half of those coming from the business sector. That's before you even consider the amount of interactions that take place daily on social media. This means that your content has to be absolutely spot on, interesting to read and packaged perfectly.
Before you start to write, consider your audience. This is not the same as ‘customers’ – your customer base is a living thing and a one size fits all approach simply won’t do. Take a look at where your custom comes from and work from there – try to define what your target audience is and what they respond well to. Your aim is to provide interesting and compelling content that backs up your brand message, and this needs to be far more subtle than an email announcing that you are brilliant and a link to your website can be found here.
Also, consider your channels: email marketing, your website, your social media accounts and your blog, to name some of the most popular. Content can work in more than one place, you don’t need to completely re-invent the wheel for every communication that you send out. The information that you put together can works across multiple formats and actually being self-referential can encourage your audience to look back across other things you’ve done (for example “as we discussed in earlier blog”, “If you don’t follow us on Twitter we thought we’d share this image with you”) and increase your audience. Repeating information can also be used to establish your brand identity. Obviously don’t keep re-entering the same content in the same format, but consider how information might works as a tweet, a blog, a newsletter or an infographic.
Put together your own style guide. The same person doesn’t have to write everything, but it should very definitely sound as though it’s coming from the same place – two dramatically different voices look unprofessional at best and hint at a power struggle at worst! Consistency is key: social media can be a devil for encouraging you to fire off a quick missive, and the tendency to overuse exclamation marks on social media is one of the bugbears of many communications professionals. All your communications should fit together, obviously they are tailored for the medium and the audience but consistency is the byword.
In many ways communicating your content has never been easier, but ensuring you get the right message to the right audience is an entirely different matter. Enjoy the challenge, and remember: quality will always win out!
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