Your blog is a demanding beast: it needs feeding well, and it needs feeding often.

But, too often people sweat away trying to feed this beast a new gourmet dinner when there are still plenty of leftovers from the last meal.

The constant desire to create something new can cloud your judgement, and it’s easy to slip into production mode without thinking about how best to use what you have got.

You shouldn’t be the one sweating; your content should.

Here’s how to get the most out of each and every piece.

Use social media wisely

There are four main elements to using social wisely: creating a sharing schedule for your posts, advertising, using the publishing functionality on certain platforms, being direct with your content.

1. Let’s start with sharing schedules. Leave Twitter open for 5 minutes, and you’ll quickly rack up well over 1,000 missed Tweets. The timeline is transient, and you need to maximise the chances of being seen. That doesn’t mean writing a fantastic piece of content then sharing once or twice. That means setting up a sharing schedule that covers the next month at least.

Recent research by CoSchedule suggests you should be posting 15 times a day on Twitter – a mixture of retweets, conversation and your own original content. Here’s how we’d schedule your own pieces for the month after publishing a piece:

  • Day 1: Share 3 times
  • Day 2: Share twice
  • Day 3: Share twice
  • Day 4: Share once
  • Day 5: Share once

Then every other day for the next two weeks. And then twice in week four.

The caveat with this: you need to mix up your posts with plenty of other activity. Please don’t shout about yourselves over and over again.

According to the same study from Coschedule, Facebook and LinkedIn need lots less attention – between 1-2 posts per day. So, let’s say 14 posts a week on each. Two of them should be your own content.

One channel we haven’t discussed is Google+. Unless you’re a techie, chances are you’ve ignored G+ for months. You shouldn’t. For most of us, Google is search, and while the jury’s out on its effect on SEO, our view is, it can’t hurt. One post a day. Use your content.

2. The second social media technique is advertising. While organic is still highly valuable on social media (conversation with suppliers and potential leads is both fun and effective), there’s no doubt that organic growth is a slog. There are over one-million pieces of content shared on Facebook every minute; yet, the average user misses over 70 percent of the feed.

If you have a strong content strategy, your content should be laser-focused towards a specific, well-defined (and documented) audience. Paid advertising on social means it gets in front of the relevant people. You don’t have to pile ad spend behind every post, but you should do for those meatier pieces of content, lead magnets like ebooks, or investments like infographics. Which social media channels work best? It depends. The question you need to ask is where your intended audience hangs out.

3. While ad spend means your content is targeted at the right people and shared with greater numbers of them, sometimes the personal touch is just as effective. A well-updated blog is a hub of useful information; use it as such. If a new client has asked a specific question, and you have a blog on that exact subject, use social to deliver it to them. ‘Heyy, here’s that piece I was talking about’ (or some such like).

It shows you care, and it’s another touchpoint between you and them, away from the sales call or meeting. Content at its best adds value. Fill the space between meetings to deliver helpful content. It’s not spamming, it’s helpful, valuable and thoughtful.

4. There’s no doubt that engagement on LinkedIn Pulse has dipped since it started; the quality has dropped while the amount has risen making it harder than ever to get eyes on your work. BUT, you already have the content at your fingertips. A simple copy and paste is all it takes, and it’s another channel to get eyes on your work. Same goes for Medium, and Facebook Pages. Again, it comes down to your audience’s preferred channel, so don’t just publish willy nilly, do your research up top. And if you’re thinking about publishing on LinkedIn and Medium, check out our handy guide first.

Things to consider

  • Scheduling takes time, which costs money. Make sure you track how long you spend.
  • Measure the results of sharing your content in this way. Set definitive metrics for success. If it isn’t working, stop doing it.
  • Consider measuring referrals from social to the site as a key metric.
  • If you’re spending on ads, this measurement is even more essential. Monitor your spend and measure the results.

Getting content published in magazines

From Concrete Magazine to the European Cleaning Journal, even the dullest industries have niche publications targeted at them. Here’s a (not so secret) secret: they all need content. You’ve got a blog full of content…….they need content………..soooo………..no? Okay, you need to pitch your content to them.

The process is easy:

  1. Find the relevant title
  2. Approach their editor (or commissioning editor)
  3. Send them a couple of your blog ideas (with a 50-100 word pitch)
  4. Wait
  5. If you haven’t heard anything for a couple of days, call and pitch down the phone.

They will either say yes, or no. If you get a no, find out what they do want content-wise (specific to your expertise, of course). They may well give you a big bunch of ideas to go away and write.

Why is this effective? Three reasons.

One is delicious backlinks. One of Google’s key ranking factors is site authority. If you have a backlink from a site with more authority than your own, that’s a little nod to Google’s spiders that your site has something of note on it.

The second is that these publications likely have a wider circulation than your own. That’s more eyes on you, which means more exposure, which, while difficult to measure in terms of tangible value, is definitely what we in marketing call ‘good’.

Thirdly, and this is more a personal benefit than a business one, you’re building your network. Business is built on connections and contacts. Building relationships in all industries is never a bad idea.

One quick note before we move on: you may be a B2B business in a tremendously exciting industry. Something to do with tech, for instance, or If that’s the case, widen your net from just trade mags to larger and more populist publications.

Things to consider

  • Editors definitely need content, but they are also busy. Your initial email may well get buried. Don’t give up easily.
  • Similarly, don’t bombard them with shit. There is no real process, just use your judgement as to the best tack for each editor.
  • ALWAYS ask for a link back to your site from the article (should they accept your piece).
  • Research first. You need to understand what works for each publication and what’s likely to be published.
  • If you have your own research, use that. Hard stats are more compelling than opinions. That’s what I think, anyway.

 

Sales literature

Ever been asked to provide a creds deck for a client? Well, don’t just send out your sales literature, send a (relevant) piece of your content too. Our client, Rare Design, have used this method to great effect, and it’s differentiated them from  other agencies pitching for the same work.

Why does it work? It lifts the lid on your thought processes, or adds value to something which is traditionally quite transactional: ‘Hey, pick me, because these reasons’.

You can read the full case study of the work we’ve done with Rare here.

Things to consider

  • Just one thing, really. If you’re going to leave behind a bit of content, make sure it’s nicely designed, not just a print out from Word or Docs

 

Make it bigger part 1: Skycraping

As much as you produce content, there will often be one or two pieces which stand head and shoulders above all others. You should pay special mind to these pieces. Are they as good as they can be? Do they cover the whole topic in detail or are they quite lightweight? Can they be improved on? Chances are, yes.

In this instance, you might want to think about ‘Skyscraping’ the article. The Skyscraper Technique is a term coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, and it describes the process of turning a post into the resource for a given subject. If you’re already attracting a shedload of visits, don’t rest on your laurels, make it better.

To use an example from our own blog, our top two articles over the last year have consistently been:

  1. Automated content: Can algorithms write your content for you?
  2. Reposting content on Medium and LinkedIn: 7 things you need to know

The first, I Skyscraped, the second I didn’t. In the last quarter, the first post has received 89% more traffic than the previous quarter (Sept-Nov 2016), the second has had a bump of 2%.

And you know what? That automated content piece is not even a really great example of effective Skyscraping. I’m a former journalist, so my predilection for storytelling overcame me and you’re basically reading a self-indulgent ego trip (albeit one I’m quite please with). A better Skyscrape opportunity would be something actionable, tactical or helpful.

The second piece (The reposting article) represents a much better opportunity for Skyscraping. Imagine if you will: ‘Reposting on Medium and LinkedIn: EVERYTHING you need to know”. And then delivering. Look at your analytics, see which posts are attracting eyes, make them 300% more awesome.

Things to consider

  • Map our your skyscraped article before you start bashing away. What is going to be of most help to your audience? What is of most value?
  • How-to guides, backed with real heavy research and results are what we’re looking for.
  • Make it look nice. Long swathes of text are ugly. Mix it up with pics.

Make it bigger part 2: Create an ebook

Let’s say you’ve been producing one article a week for the last six months, that’s 24 articles. Have a flick through and you’ll soon be able to pick out some common themes and threads. Pull out 5-6, and combine them to make something of more value – an ebook.

You’ll have to edit these individual posts together to create continuity – bung an intro up top and write a conclusion, too – but the main bulk of the content is already written. Use it.

On top of the digital version of an ebook, we urge our clients to print hard copies as well. Leave them behind at sales meetings, send them to prospective clients, give them to existing clients: they are awesome pieces of physical content.

We developed an ebook with our email marketing partners, Winbox. Here are their cold, hard stats:

  • 104 downloads in total.
  • 24% increase in conversion rate since using the ebook i.e. taking it to client meetings.
  • 12% higher open rate on their email marketing from the ebook download mailing list.
  • 8% better click to open rate on their email marketing from the ebook download mailing list.

The ebook plays a role in every one of their prospect encounters and new client acquisitions. And the piece was an amalgamation on previous blogs we’d already written.

Things to consider

  • Proofread the absolute bejeesus out of your final piece. Once you’ve committed to something in print, there is no going back. In fact, pay a professional.
  • You will have to pay for a designer. Unless you’re a designer, of course.
  • Think about the size and shape of your ebook. A5 is a nice, handy size and easily pocketable. A4 might look grand, but it’s cumbersome.

 

Other ideas

Talks – Those bit bits of content we just mentioned, can one be turned into a half an hour talk/presentation? Probably. 

Slideshare – Can you strip any of your content down to easy-to-digest slides? Here’s a great example.

Video – As Facebook keeps reminding us, video is the future of everything (it’s not, don’t worry). Still, it IS effective. And if a written post is doing well, chances are a video will too.

Email – Build a mailing list, use email to deliver content directly to you customers’ eyes.

One of our favourite businesses here in Bristol is Watertight Marketing. Bryony Thomas has written a fantastic piece of content – the book Watertight Marketing – and the entire company is built from that one incredible piece of source material. Talks, workshops, videos, blog posts, training, consultation; everything stems from that one book.

When we talk about sweating content, we’re not saying that you have to do all of the above for every single piece of content. But, if you’re giving your articles love, care and attention in the production, make sure they’re receiving the after care too.

Now, time to turn this piece into an interpretive dance. Look out for the video, coming soon.

Let us know how you get on.

 

Photo credits:

Social media via Wikimedia Commons

For sale via Blue Diamond Gallery

Shanghai Skyline via Wikimedia Commons

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.