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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

How Shareable Content is Going to Revolutionize Your Business

In 1996, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled "Content is King." In it, he posits that Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.

And Gates wasn't wrong. According to some of the most recent statistics available in the field of content marketing and creation:

  • 90% of all organizations use content in their marketing efforts
  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content
  • 70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing
  • 60% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
Online marketing, including social media marketing, can revolutionize the way you spread the word about your business.
Online marketing, including social media marketing, can revolutionize the way you spread the word about your business. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash.

However, there is more to creating great content than simply putting words on a page and publishing them online. In his exploration of the future of online content, Gates noted that, If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.

In his essay, Gates foretold the struggle of the print industry in that consumers have gravitated toward online consumption of news, books, and magazines. Beyond the added benefit of video and audio, online content is readily available wherever and whenever a consumer has the time and desire to access it. There is a reward for accessing content online and for the most part, it's instant gratification.

However, it's this concept that is the secret to creating shareable content that will revolutionize your business. Your content needs to be rewarding for your audience to read, and it has to offer something they can't get from print advertising alone. It needs to encourage active involvement and engagement with a company's core philosophy and business goals and it needs to offer the reader something in exchange—important information to ease the stress of their daily lives, "insider" tips and "how-to" advice, or a story/idea that encourages or inspires them. They will, in turn, want to share this content—hoping it will help someone else as much as it has helped them—and that's how a business's reputation grows. This inspiring, educational, rewarding content is the kind of content that will prove to be "king" in your marketing efforts.

The cost of content marketing

If your marketing budget is already stretched thin, it might be difficult to imagine the additional cost of paying content creators to help build your online audience. However, your marketing strategy could, in fact, need a complete overhaul because focusing more on shareable online content is going to help you in two ways. First, it will help you save money, since the latest statistics show that content marketing costs an average of 62% less than traditional marketing. In fact, per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing. Second, it's going to increase your leads, since statistics show that, on average, companies with blogs produce a 67% increase in leads per month.

Buyer persona

If you're convinced it's time to revolutionize the way you market your business, the first step you need to take to make the most out of content marketing is to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your average customer, including demographics, education level, demands and purchasing habits. It provides an overview of the type of customer your content should engage and will help your content writers understand the audience they should be reaching, along with what appeals to that audience.

Magazines and other publications do this same type of study to determine who their audience is, their media consumption habits, and the type of stories that would be most appealing to their readership. Successful publications have fine-tuned exactly who reads their content and previously published content that has received the most positive response.

In many cases, businesses will have several buyer personas to consider, meaning that there are multiple customer or client "types" to focus on for content marketing strategy. There might also be an "negative" persona, meaning a customer type you don't want to attract.

Creating buyer personas can strengthen your online marketing strategy and help you pinpoint your audience.
Creating buyer personas can strengthen your online marketing strategy and help you pinpoint your audience. Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash.

While they might sound complicated, buyer personas are easy to create, although it can be time-consuming to go through the process. In most cases, interviews are required (with former and current customers) and you'll need to spend some time organizing and extrapolating the data from interviews when they have been completed. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the idea, this article offers a detailed explanation of what a buyer persona is, how to create one, and a free template you can download and use in the process of doing so.

Blogging for business

So, now that we've established the power of content marketing and how to narrow it to the right audience, let's look at what goes into creating content that is shareable. As a general rule, you want to make sure the content your business publishes meets the following criteria:

  • It should be high-quality, relevant and interesting
  • It should hold your reader's attention
  • It should improve customer loyalty to your business or brand

The good news is: If you can manage to meet the first two criteria, the last one will be a given. High-quality content that is interesting is the type of content your audience will want to share, whether through email or on social media. By doing so, your business name is connected to a positive message that makes someone's day better, whether through helpful tips or reminders to slow down and enjoy the present moment. This kind of messaging strategy will automatically make your audience feel more personally connected to your business or brand.

Some engaging content ideas include an article that:

  • Spotlights an employee and his/her hobbies
  • Tells the story of your company
  • Offers advice related to your company's product or service (for example, if you run a home-cleaning business, you might provide content on "tips for keeping your home tidy during hectic times" or "best cleaning products on the market.")
  • Breaks down complicated information or data from studies conducted that are related to your business or service
  • Details your company's involvement with a local charity or nonprofit
  • Offers a fun contest, such as customer-submitted photos, essays, recipes, etc.

Social media

When it comes to increasing brand awareness and attracting more customers, you really can't beat the popularity and cost-effectiveness of social media marketing. The Pew Research Center found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans now use social media. Although social media is especially popular among younger adults (86% of 18- to 29-year-olds are social media users), adults ages 30-49 (80%) and 50-64 (64%) use social media, as well.

Your content strategy on social media should be to share the many facets of your business with your potential, present, and future clients. It should present a well-rounded glimpse of what your business offers and the overall philosophy or worldview you embrace in your company culture. You can do this through a variety of different posts, including:

  • Links to your recently (or previously) published blog articles
  • Announcements of special events or open houses for your business
  • Sales, doorbusters, special offers or coupons your business is offering
  • Contests with prizes (this is a great way to encourage your followers to share your post, especially if you make it a requirement for contest entry)

Although social media content is part of your business's overall content marketing strategy, it's a separate entity and should be treated as such if you want to be successful at it. Doing it right requires creating an editorial/publication schedule ahead of time and keeping it on track. It also requires consistent monitoring to ensure your brand reputation isn't compromised by spam, foul language, or other potential issues.

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