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Content Marketing Smart – Why Your Blog Article is Just the Beginning

This is a guest contribution from James Scherer, of Wishpond

Image via Flickr user captainmcdan

Image via Flickr user captainmcdan

Monday: a couple hours of research, six hours of head-down writing, two (five?) coffee-breaks. End result: One 2000 word, comprehensive article on Facebook Ad best practices. Publish.

Tuesday: a couple hours of research, six hours of head-down writing…

Rinse. Repeat. Let’s rethink how we create content.

In this article I’ll dive into content marketing smart, not hard. I’ll discuss re-using your content in five awesome ways that will save you time, energy, and increase your content ROI in the new year.

Introduction to content marketing smart

Your blog article is just the beginning. Think about it as a river, and the rest of your content as streams coming off it. The source is great, but the streams spread wider and do totally different and amazing things.

Content marketing smart is all about using your existing content in creative, practical ways that save you time and energy but give you a great return on your investment.

Primarily, it’s about thinking outside the box to use your time more intelligently. Start with a well-researched blog article, and end with all types of content that generate brand awareness in different, exciting ways.

Why content marketing smart works better in 2014 than it did in 2013:

Every prediction article I’ve read (including the one I wrote) has talked about a shift in content. Here’s what’s happening: Google is rewarding social shares as much as it is link building.

Previously, Google’s search algorithm considered a link to, or from, your content as a vote in its favor. Longer blog articles could have a greater number of links, increasing their SEO. Yes, there were other factors, but link-building was at the heart of blog SEO for a long time.

With the integration of the Hummingbird Algorithm in August though, Google’s search mechanism changed. For the first time ever, the top of the SEO factor list was the number of Google+ social endorsements your content had. Links were still important, but the term ‘Social Media Optimization’ had attained a whole new meaning nonetheless.

What does this mean for your content?

It means you need to be producing visually appealing, socially shareable, bite-size pieces of content that people can love, share, and leave.

5 tips to optimizing for social:

  1. Introduce a social share toolbar on your blog’s page (this can increase content virality by up to 700%)

  2. Use bitly links everywhere you can, to encourage Retweets and shorter Facebook and Google+ posts (which have higher engagement than longer posts)

  3. Create appealing and eye-catching header images so your content grabs the attention of social media users

  4. Create a Pinterest Pin with the most interesting statistic from your blog article and put it on your ‘Amazing Stats’ Board

  5. Generate content that encourages Facebook Likes, social shares and comments. Is it witty, surprising, funny, thought-provoking, new, exclusive? Would you want to share this yourself?

Your five pieces of content:

  1. Comprehensive, well-researched blog article on a subject interesting to your readers

  2. Slideshare presentation built from blog research, case studies, or other sources

  3. Comments on Influencer’s content and on social platforms – keeps you in the conversation

  4. Infographic built from blog research, case studies, statistics, or other sources

  5. Ebook built from longer-form blog articles

1. Blog Article:

Put some serious time and energy into your blog articles. I’m talking 1800+ words (don’t worry, you’ll get more out of those 1800+ words than ever before).

Do your research; check out infographics and case studies from around the web; read academic journals (yes, I do this); talk to peers or experts, etc. Make them awesome. Make them optimized for search. Promote and syndicate the hell out of them.

I recommend a running-theme (it makes the ebook easier) for a few weeks. Try around five or six articles giving an in-depth look at a subject. For instance:

Article 1: Introduction to [Blank]
Article 2: [Blank] Design Best Practices
Article 3: A/B Testing Variables in your [Blank]
Article 4: 7 Mistakes to Avoid in [Blank]
Article 5: 5 [Case Studies] and What you can Learn from them
Article 6: Taking [Blank] to the Next Level with [Blank]

Fact-heavy, long-form articles are still wanted. There remains a sizeable audience for the comprehensive guides and 25-step how-tos. So you don’t get to stop writing them. Plus, they’re even more valuable now that you can re-use that awesome content in so many creative and interesting ways.

But really, do you want to do two hours of research, write for a day, publish, and then start all over again the next morning? Let’s market smart, not hard.

2. Slideshare Presentations:

If you’re just joining us, Slideshare is a free content-sharing website which makes your business’ presentations available to an ever-increasing number of users. Your business’ presentations are fully embeddable in your own blog and others. They’re easily downloadable, and Slideshare’s built-in social sharing tool makes the SMO easy. In fact, I’ve seen a few of my own Slideshare presentations with a better SEO than their original articles.

A few months ago you would have seen me taking an hour or two each day to force every one of my blog articles into a Slideshare presentation. The problem is, not every article lends itself to presentation format. Not every sub-heading has three bullet-points and an example image. I was pushing a square peg into a round hole and my content was suffering.

What I do now is find those blog articles I’ve written that naturally fit the format. Those articles where, without really noticing it, you’ve found 15 awesome statistics that surprised you and will surprise your readers.

Here’s what I recommend: Compile the data from one or two of your longer-form blog articles (statistics, facts, case studies, quotes, etc) and compile a couple of visually appealing Slideshares each week. Embed the presentations on your blog with a short description and promote it across your social channels.

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive look at Slideshare, check out How to Use Slideshare to Market your Business.

3. Comments on Influencer’s Blogs and Social Media:

Influencer Marketing Ammunition: For those unaware, influencer marketing is the practice of reaching out to online thought-leaders in your sector and encouraging them to help promote your brand’s content.

Every sector has influencers, it’s just a matter of finding them (try Klout, PeerIndex or Kred) and getting in touch. Contacting the right influencer in the right way at the right time can increase your blog’s readership (and your brand’s online profile) by ten-fold overnight. Really. It happened to Wishpond in July (thanks @MariSmith!).

Commenting is where re-using your blog content comes in. Try to comment on 2-3 influencer blogs each day. Use statistics and observations from your blog to write intelligent, insightful observations on articles with the same subject. Ask reasonable questions. Disagree in an informed and respectful manner.

Commenting gets your name in an influencer’s mind, so interactions on Twitter or Facebook will mean more. Asking for a share of your own blog will be better-received if they know you’ve shared and read theirs.

Social Platform Ammunition: Your blog articles are full of great quotes, statistics and factoids that lend themselves to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest posts. Use them!

There are a million articles out there about using social media to promote your blog, but how about using your blog to promote your social media?

Increase brand awareness with interesting facts and stats that engage the viewer. Use your article’s headers (you, or your graphic designer, spent quality time on them! Don’t just use them once) to grab the attention of your Facebook Fans. Remember, across all social platforms, posts with images get substantially better engagement than those without.

Don’t wrack your brain on a daily basis for engaging social media fodder, simply note down the fodder that you find in your blog research or the especially creative lines in your own writing.

4. Infographic:

I mentioned above that 2014 will be the year of bite-sized, visually appealing content. Again, this doesn’t mean that you get to stop writing articles. But it does mean you get to learn Photoshop.

Like with Slideshare, use the statistics from your blogs (maybe a few of your blogs) and create a visually-awesome, palatable infographic that communicates a ton of information in a beautiful and easy way. Infographics almost always generate more engagement than a blog article and are great for spreading brand awareness as people will pick them up, embed them on their own sites, and credit your business.

Yes, for many small businesses without a graphic designer infographics can be difficult. However, I’d urge you to experiment with free design software (if you can’t afford or don’t already have Photoshop, InDesign or Adobe Illustrator) like Gimp, Info.gram or Piktochart.

Remember to offer your infographics as guest posts on other blog sites (once you’ve posted it on yours). For social media marketers, try AllFacebook, Entrepeneur and Business2Community. And syndicate on sites like BizSugar, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg and Diigo.

5. Monthly ebook:

Ebooks are the end product of your content recycling strategy.

Once you’ve written five or six awesome blog articles on the same subject, compile them into a comprehensive ebook. This can be done with free software (even Powerpoint – just export as a PDF), but I really recommend InDesign – as your ebook will come out more professionally done and appealing to the reader.

Ebooks are really valuable pieces of content, worth more to your readers and your business than any other piece you create. They’re in-depth guides on their subject; something people can download and save to their computer and read and re-read for guidance and inspiration.

Because of their value (and the work required to create them) I tend to make my ebooks email-gated. Basically I create a landing page for each ebook I produce and ask visitors to provide an email before getting access to the amazing content I’ve generated. Because only people interested in my ebook’s subject matter will provide their email address, the process segments those emails for you – facilitating your business’ email marketing/sales funnel.

Conclusion

Hopefully you now have a better idea of how, and why, you can recycle your content. It saves you time and energy – allowing you to experiment with different formats of your own. Something I’d highly recommend, if you’re not already, is organizing your content into a content calendar. Calendars keep your different kinds of content sensible and timely. Try an ebook every month or so, two Slideshares a week, a bi-weekly infographic, and three blog comments a day.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with re-using content? Have you found it saves you time or requires you to wear too many hats? Start the conversation below!

James Scherer is a content marketer for Wishpond and author of the ebook The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads. Wishpond makes it easy to run Facebook Ads, create landing pages & contests, email automation campaigns & manage all of your business’ contacts.

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Comments

  1. Samuel says:

    So much hard work can be spend on creating your own unique content, only to find out that none are sharing it and it is being buried as you write new content after the other.

    That’s why it is very important to be connecting constantly with new influencers and commenting on their pieces of work.

    They will take notice.

    Secondly, content marketing can morph into content syndication, only based on wanted content like that.

    It gives your content more of chance to be seen and to be shared.

    Thanks for the article and tips on Content Marketing!

    - Samuel

    • Samuel,

      Influencer marketing and syndication are definitely important parts of content marketing, thanks for adding that!

      I think re-using content is one of the best ways to combat content shock (Mark Schaefer’s theory from a few months ago of an overwhelming increase in content online resulting in a decreasing ROI for content marketers). Re-using content increases your overall marketing ROI, as you get a higher return from less overall energy, time and resources.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      - James

  2. These are all great ideas! Other things I’ve been doing were to repurpose free webinars into audio recordings for my opt-in, publishing the slides on slideshare as you suggested.
    Also another great idea is to create videos from blog posts. Lately, I’m having great success and getting awesome feedback for some mini blogging tips – 30-sec or so audios which teach you 1-3 tips to improve your blog.
    Thanks for your great suggestions, James, gave me food for thought :)

    • Delia,

      Those are great ideas!

      I’ve done the repurposing of free webinars myself. I noticed Jon Loomer has recently started recording himself reading his own blog posts, which is an interesting idea as well. It allows busy content consumers to “read” his content while they work on something else.

      It’s about constant development and novel strategies – some of which work and some which were just worth trying!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great ideas and content James. I am a huge believer in re-purposing content. How about adding another idea…putting your content into a video. Coming from a Slideshare presentation, you are already halfway there. Thanks for sharing your insights and expertise :)

    • Julie,

      Absolutely putting a blog article into video-format is a possibility. I’ve found it difficult to transition my articles (especially the long-form ones I refer to above) into entertaining videos. You’ve found success with screen-capture of a Slideshare presentation and audio? Definitely something to try!

      Recently I’ve been re-using blog articles and writing the scripts for short, more entertaining two-minute videos – basically short top tip videos focused around my blog content.

      Thanks for commenting and the great ideas. Cheers Julie!

  4. Azalea Pena says:

    Good post James! I really liked this article because it has encourage me to do something I usually don’t…to be exact, something I don’t really do much at all unless asked. Recycling content is something I’m not comfortable with, it maybe because of my thinking that Google will know anyway. However, with your tips on how to recycle content in creative ways, I might just start practicing this. True, its content marketing smart and it is only at the end of the article that I understood what you meant by “your blog article is just the beginning.” Again, thanks for this info.

    • Azalea,

      Thanks for commenting! Great point about Google as well – there is definitely the concern that your SEO would be hurt by re-using blog content for more blog content. However, infographics, ebooks and Slideshares – when exported as images – are un-indexable except as images. Their SEO will be calculated not by the links within them or keywords, but social endorsements (Facebook Likes, Shares, etc) and links to them. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the short and sweet.

      Good luck! And thanks for reading.

  5. Some great ideas in here! I especially like the one about creating ebooks from the in-depth topics. I’m always afraid to create something to thin though. Maybe I’ll give one or two a try and see what happens.

    • Thanks for commenting Jim,

      You’re not alone in thinking your ebook has to be a comprehensive encyclopedia for people to engage with it, but you might be surprised. Many businesses email-gate valuable case studies (check out a few A/B testing software providers), whitepapers and even infographics. It’s all about the value of what you’re offering, not the length. Good luck!

  6. oh i don’t know about so much how to write good article ? but you detect some very important point to help us write good article about marketing .

  7. dilip yadav says:

    Really nice post.
    this article has redefined my way and style of writing a post.
    Thanks a lot for this lovely and very informative post.
    I will surely share this article so that maximum guys can read this article.
    You guys here are really wesome.
    Thanks to every senior blogger contributing to this blog and making this blog the best.

  8. Adam Kielich says:

    Very good advice. I had long thought about writing an ebook about a subject which I frequently blog about. I went back and looked at the amount of content I had on my blog and realized I already had an ebook’s worth of content. Much easier to edit those existing posts down to an ebook than write an entirely volume of content to say what I had already said.

    • Adam,

      Exactly! Remember as well that there’s no required length or breadth for an ebook. For instance, many businesses generate leads by email-gating individual case-studies. As long as you’re offering enough value and promoting well you’ll find success.

      Good luck, and thanks for commenting!

  9. Hassan Rashid says:

    Won’t the visitors be frustrated that they’re being provided with the same content in the eBook as was in the themed blog posts?

    • Hassan,

      Very legitimate concern. However, I’ve yet to have a complaint.

      The benefit of the ebook is A) it’s downloadable, saveable and referable and B) it’s comprehensive – one place for all the information one could ask for.

      The lead-generation opportunity that comes with ebook creation is, I think, more than worth the risk.

      Best wishes, and thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. Thanks for the tips about creating infographics.

    Infographic design is an area I have only just begun to dip my toe into (I am more of a writer, than a designer), so I have been approaching it with a little caution.

    • Katherine,

      Last year I was 100% in the same boat as you are. My New Year’s resolution however (career-wise) was to push my limits, learn more, wear more hats. I had experimented with visually-appealing Slideshares (something I consider an infographic laid on its side) and moving to infographics was the natural development.

      There are a bunch of free tools online that can help you with Infographics to get started. But, honestly, I recommend you just dive in headfirst. It may take you a month to create one infographic (as it did me) but you’ll be learning the whole time.

      Good luck!

  11. Eric says:

    Thanks for this awesome piece of content.

    I really like the idea of planning out articles as a theme that run together over time. That’s actually pretty cool.

    I also love the idea of multiple ebooks. While they’re free, you’re still taking all the best content on each subject, packaging it up into an ebook and promoting each ebook on its own landing page where you can then track who is interested in what, which gives a flood more ideas for content, connecting with certain people about things, etc.

    Great stuff here!

    • Eric,

      That’s exactly right. Depending on the size and breadth of your business, it can also be a great idea to create sector-based ebooks. That way you know that people who downloaded your ebook “A/B testing for Restaurants” are interested in restaurant marketing – kicking your email segmentation up a notch. This is something I’m testing at the moment, actually, so we’ll see.

      Good luck, and thanks for reading.

  12. Nate says:

    Thanks for the great reminders and tips on how to re-use content in other ways to gain social shares, links, likes, and all that.

    I’ve found slideshare to be a great tool to help build awareness, links, and it’s pretty easy to compile all the information into cool visually stimulating presentations that can then be used at speaking events too (which in turn brings your content around full circle, gets you more links and comments, and is all around worth the effort).

    Thanks again.

    • Nate,

      It’s good to find another Slideshare fan! Have you gone pro on any level to generate leads with your presentations? I’ve found it a very reasonable monthly subscription (something like 45 bucks for 30 email addresses). Check it out!

      Cheers, and thanks for reading!

      - James

  13. Graham Smith says:

    Hi great post thank you got it after reading i think i might give a E book a go have never had the confidence to try but you guys have given me the confidence to try .

    For us newbie you seniors are our teachers !!!

    Thanks Again !!!!

    • Graham,

      Good to hear! Ebooks are an awesome way to rework your existing content into a trackable return and lead generation. Remember to put time and energy into your ebook’s landing page as well to encourage people to convert. Cheers!

  14. Hi James,

    Loved this post. Especially Pinterest and eBooks are great suggestions. Thank You.

  15. Jayashree says:

    Great inputs to create smart content. I have seen a lot of traction to Infographics these days and I am going to give a try on that area to check how that creates engagement among readers.Thanks for the valuable insights you have provided.

  16. metz says:

    This is a well-written post and fully loaded with information that newbies and professionals must discern and be aware of. Your intellectual capacity should be used in a smart and wise way.

    Influencers are influencers. Stay close to them and also LEARN from them. Yes, connect with the right influencer.

    I must say that hard work and knowledge is important to be successful whatever tools you have or scheme to use in blogging.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  17. David says:

    Great post. eBooks are something that I would like to incorporate soon to my website.

    • David,

      Thanks! Ebooks are awesome – especially if you don’t have to write completely original content to fill their pages. They’re the epitome of re-used content, as very few adjustments have to be made to your blog articles in order to create a valuable and comprehensive ebook.

      Good luck with them, and thanks for reading!

      - James

  18. Jayashree,

    Thanks for commenting! Infographics are one of my favorite pieces of content – they’re as shareable and download-able as it gets! Good luck.

  19. Ryan says:

    Love your ‘running-theme’ idea for blog posts! If you’re going to the effort of creating a piece of stand-out content, it makes sense to maximize your own return, so why not squeeze 5 or 6 posts out of the topic? Thanks for the share!

    • Ryan,

      Absolutely! Plus I’ve found that readers respond more to a running theme than random articles. Also I’ve found I learn more and retain more information if I’m writing on a single theme for a good length of time. And the research for the whole running theme turns into a great infographic and ebook! Win-win-win.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  20. dorry says:

    A sidenote: Twitter no longer cares about link length – they’re all 22 (or so, I forget) characters long. So using bitly to encourage retweets isn’t necessary at all and some people actually prefer seeing where exactly the link leads right away.

  21. Tomas says:

    Awesome article. Makes a lot of sence.

  22. Great blog, The insights and the opinions shared in this blog are appreciable. It is really very informative. Thanks for sharing.