Want to take your content marketing to the next level? Need to know how to maximize the interaction your content shares with its audience?

Media Shower recently spoke with Jennifer Van Iderstyne, Senior Strategist at Overit, to find out how.

What qualities make for extraordinary content marketing?

1. Originally Sourced Material - While aggregated content and collections of existing assets presented in a unique way can be really interesting and successful, there is nothing quite like a piece of content that offers a completely new perspective based on proprietary research or information.

2. Visual Quality - Looks aren’t necessarily everything, but if something looks great, it really helps. Presentation can affect the perception of a piece’s value. This also means, though, that a piece that is overly-branded or commercial in design may lose some credibility and linkability by being seen as too biased and self-serving. That being said, stripping a piece of all branding loses much of the value of creating brand awareness and recognition. The best option is to strike a balance of associating your brand with a piece, while not pushing business goals that override the broad value of the content.

3. Usefulness - Content initiatives can have a range of intentions, from being entertaining to informative to enlightening. But content that serves as a resource that people will return to repeatedly, or share with others to utilize as a guide, is the kind of content that has the greatest staying power and influence – even if it doesn’t go “viral.” Content virulence is certainly a win for exposure, but an asset’s popularity and impact is rarely sustained for a significant period of time. The exception is anything viral that serves as an educational model for those looking to study examples of creating viral campaigns.

In what ways do a client’s identity help to pinpoint the direction of the content they shape and release?

There are so many aspects that comprise an “identity,” such as the product or service, client interaction, market positioning, corporate culture, etc. A content marketing piece can be rooted in any of these things or others. The aspects of identity that drive the piece will be determined by the target audience. A piece intended to raise brand awareness may be rooted in corporate culture, whereas a piece intended to raise market awareness about the products and services may be driven by facts and details about use cases. Your audience, channel and end goals will help establish which aspect of your identity should be integrated into a piece. With that said, though, certain fundamentals will always be a part of the end product. Visually driven businesses should always have a stunning presentation of the information. Highly data-driven businesses will almost always have numbers and statistics pervasive in their content marketing.

What common mistakes do businesses make in their content marketing strategies?

The one major thing that will undermine any content marketing strategy is a weak emphasis on promotion. Relying on people to find content on their own or through a small burst of initial promotion is usually going to result in disappointing results. There is time-sensitive content and evergreen content. If something is seasonal or related to a recent event, the promotion has got to be really strong up front and across several channels.

Evergreen pieces can also benefit from a strong initial push, but there is less pressure to “get it out there.” You can repeatedly push the same asset in the same channels spaced apart. You can look for opportunities that exist and monitor new ones to present a piece directly to the right person. For example, it’s possible from a public relations standpoint to pitch the same existing evergreen piece to appropriate outlets for a year. That’s not to say time-sensitive pieces don’t have their merit. When you associate an initiative with a holiday or an event like an election, you have the benefit of an increased public interest in that subject that you can capitalize on. In both cases there is value, but you have to make sure you approach each one with a strong promotional game plan that is tailored to the nature of the piece.

How can content be made more interactive and less passive?

That also depends on the kind of interaction being sought. Is the intent of the piece to get comments? Shares? Clicks? Whatever the desired interaction is, incentivizing that action is one way to help encourage it. But the simplest way to make the content more interactive is to include a clear and specific call to action within the piece itself. If you want people to join the conversation on a subject, round the content out with a number of compelling questions that they can respond to.

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