You know the rules for creating stellar content. Avoid big blocks of text. Use images and videos to articulate ideas. Never forget how much people love infographics.
The good news is, you know exactly what to do. The bad news is, anyone with access to Google has read all the same tutorials. The secret recipe for good content is out of the bag, which makes it awfully hard to make your content stand out from the pack.
The age of content marketing is here, and the tired old tutorials promising to teach you how to create “content that sings” are no longer enough. It’s a brave new world for content, and creators have to think outside the box.
The best content is the kind that creates itself. It is infinitely easier to write a few questions and reach out to an expert in the field than it is to do all the research on your own. From university professors to government officials to non-profit leaders, it is fairly easy to get experts to speak on record about something that stokes their passion or interest in their industry.
Conversations with experts enhance your credibility as an authoritative source. But equally important is the fact that interviews simply look more appealing and easy to read than articles, which means people are more likely to actually read them. You can supplement the Q&A with images or videos, and interviews make amazing companion pieces to infographics.
Instead of writing a laundry list of questions, come up with an outline and a few premises to ask your expert. Let the conversation go where it may so the subject’s voice and personality have a chance to really shine through. When it’s done, choose between one and three of the best, most compelling or most entertaining quotes and pull them out for display in a large font to highlight the topic. Good pull quotes draw the audience in and entice them to keep reading.
2) Don’t Hide from Your Failures
It is natural to put your best foot forward. But when you only write about the problems your product or service solved or the success you’ve achieved, you miss out on a golden opportunity to humanize yourself to your audience and entice them into lowering their guard through deprecation.
Write a piece every now and then about a time when you or your business failed miserably — like, really went down in flames. You’ll come off as honest and human, which is so difficult in the world of online content. You’ll show that you have the capacity to admit your mistakes and, as long as you frame the article in a way that shows what you learned from the catastrophe, you’ll show that you’re always evolving, growing and improving.
3) Tie Unrelated Ideas Together and Drop Names
Everyone who has ever read a tutorial on making content sing (they always want to make it sing, don’t they?) knows that headlines are everything. A good headline is an entry point that readers use to gauge whether or not they will read the content and stay on the page.
Research your target demographic. What do your metrics and analytics reveal about your audience’s tastes in music, movies, sports or popular culture? Grab someone famous or something relevant to their interests, and inject it into the point you’re trying to make, even though the two topics have nothing to do with each other. Here are some examples:
- What The Incredible Hulk Can Teach Us About Building Construction
- How The Kardashian Sisters Revealed Air Travel’s Hidden Flaw
- 5 Ways Manny Pacquiao Educated Us About Battery Life
Instead of hurting you, the very fact that the two subjects are arbitrary and don’t belong together should be enough to get them to read at least far enough to see your angle.
4) Think Beyond the Written Word
Many believe that the only type of content they can create is written, and then complain when their visibility doesn’t improve. What many marketers don’t realize is that content can be created and shared in a myriad of ways. Large ecommerce companies like Shopify have caught on to the game, creating things like Gift Certificate Generators to create buzz. Who doesn’t love something free? Combining apps, tools, widgets, etc. with paid social amplification can help generate inexpensive clicks to generate buzz.
Video. Images. Infographics. The tired, canned advice about singing content, which has been floating around the Internet for years, is no longer enough to make your creations stand out. Yes, your content has to be compelling and authoritative, but it should also be different, unique, unexpected, quirky and undeniably your own. Your brand should extend to your content — think outside the box and create content that isn’t singing the same old tune.
What other advice can you share with marketers looking to get their content to stand out from the rest?
Originally published Jun 15, 2015, updated Jun 15, 2021