The Basics of Content Marketing

Content marketing is a marketing tactic that relies on the use of messaging created by a business to promote said business. Unlike advertising, which is paying to place brand communication in front of a potential customer, content marketing relies on word of mouth, brand awareness, and various website algorithms to earn attention.

What type of media is used in content marketing? Anything a business creates can be considered a piece of content marketing. These are the most common:

  • Text. Text media, like corporate blogs, LinkedIn blogs, guest posts, newspaper/magazine articles, and ebooks introduce customers to a variety of subjects, from a small business's efforts to improve a local community to encouraging a novel use of a product to highlighting the importance of an offered service.
  • Video. Video media, like Youtube videos, webinars, or Instagram stories, allow customers to see a product in action or put a face to a brand. They can also be useful for educating customers about a process.
  • Images. Photos or diagrams, on websites and social media channels, showcase a brand and its offerings. This type of content is the easiest to consume because it takes the least amount of time.

How can I make content? Anyone can take a photo or write a blog; making content is easy and often cheap. The hard part of content marketing is not creating the content, but creating noticeable content. YouTube alone sees 300 hours of content uploaded every minute. The trick is to create content that stands out.

How does content get noticed? Similar to basic SEO strategies, content that resonates with an audience does well. SEO plays a big role in getting text and video media noticed, but so too does how people interact with content. That's because the recommendation algorithms for many websites, from Facebook to Youtube, push content in front of users. Recommendation engines look for content marketing that is:

    • Entertaining. Something that people enjoy is more likely to gain traction, as shares and likes make a piece of content more likely to appear before a user.
    • Useful. If a piece of content is useful, people will share it. Useful content can explain a process, share information, or make complicated information easy to understand.
    • Relevant. From hashtags to SEO keywords, use the language of your audience. This makes content easy to find and easy for web crawlers to categorize.
    • Timely. A content marketing piece related to current events or trending topics is likely to get noticed. This can mean contributing to a meme or naturally inserting your business into recent conversations.

Naturally is the key – customers can detect when they're being sold to and if it doesn't make logical sense, say a knife company creating a video about spring décor, your content will get attention for the wrong reason. Instead of encouraging sales, you'll encourage negative emotions about your brand.

Creating content, good content, is an art form. Not everything can go viral, but a strategic content marketing plan that puts the right content in front of the right people can help grow your small business. It requires a smart plan that links content across everything a brand produces, but the results can be amazing.

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