By now most everyone has heard the adage ‘Content is King’.
And if you believe the folks at the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing via blogs is slowly but surely replacing traditional marketing, and has radically changed the world of advertising since the dawn of the internet, and the subsequent phenomenon of social media.
As I mentioned in Monday’s post, the first step in blogging is to establish your blogging goals and identifying your audience. The second step is to craft a compelling content strategy for reaching your goals. I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned about that today.
In addition to my daily research on effective blogging, I’ve spent some time examining the 5 key concepts that drive our traffic through Google Analytics; the kinds of posts that attract readers, and seem to keep them coming back for more.
If you currently write a design blog – or are considering starting one, you might find this list helpful in crafting your posts. Here’s the content concepts that we’ve found most compelling.
#1 Solve A Problem
Far and away the best blog posts – the ones that are read and shared the most by our readership – are the posts that solve a problem. The posts I’ve written about utilizing social media effectively for example have proved to be very popular.
Carl Lana and I have been listening to design professionals across the country, in the interest of crafting content that solves some of their problems – like the post we published on utilizing hashtags for example. If you can ascertain the issues vexing your readership, and endeavor to assist in resolving those problems though your blog, you’re likely to gain traction.
#2 Promote Something Of Value
Second only to problem solving posts are posts that promote something of value to the design community.
Central to most blog content strategies, product or service promotion drives traffic in much the same way it does for traditional media outlets. The editorial staffs of every shelter magazine have long sought to expose the latest resource or product, to drive newsstand sales, and hence increase advertising revenue.
What’s unique to the blogosphere is the speed at which this information can be shared. For example, if I’m meeting with an artisan who’s developed a new finish, I can photograph it and post about it in a matter of minutes without the lag time for print publication.
One good example of a promotional post was Carl Lana’s review of the continuing trend of textile houses collaborating with designers of differing disciplines, at October’s Fall Market in the D&D. He linked to several companies featuring the trend, promoting their product.
In the design industry this breaks down into 2 categories: designers and vendors.
An interior designer might seek to attract a potential client by sharing his knowledge and expertise in a blog post on an number of subjects. Just yesterday Thomas Jayne published a ‘how-to’ post on his blog on using skirted tables effectively. It established his credibility on the subject, expressed his aesthetic viewpoint, and educated the reader in the best ways (at least in his opinion) to utilize fabric draped tables in successfully designed rooms.
On the other hand, a craftsman or showroom might choose to educate design professionals about how to successfully utilize a finish or a furnishing that they produce, or about it’s history. John Lyle did just that recently with a series of 2 posts on Shagreen furniture, one on pre-20th century pieces, and another on pieces from the 20th century.
#4 Provoke A Dialog
Every blog needs an established set of goals – but central to each is the wish to create a community of like-minded individuals, in our case the interior design community.
Also central to establishing a blog in the world of content marketing is encouraging a dialog between your readers and yourself..
While traditional marketing ‘broadcasts’ the carefully crafted and targeting information at the intended audience, successful content marketing endeavors to ‘communicate’ a message, and to invite participation with the reader.
Still one of the most popular posts I’ve written to date, which was published last year on the future of print media, continues to receive comments today. In Michael Hyatt’s book ‘Platform’ (for me the blogger’s bible) he advocates for ending every blog post with a question to start a dialog. I find that to be a bit patronizing, so we use interrogatives sparingly, but they’re the best way to engage readers.
#5 Tell A Story
Throughout history we’ve used stories to convey ideas, and a well crafted story, especially in these days of lightning fast news cycles and sensory overload, can deliver a message very successfully.
If you’re trying to establish a brand message, there are few things more effective than an engaging anecdote, because we are compelled by nature to share a great story with our friends.
A good story needs a main character, someone with whom your reader can identify. For readers to visualize it, your story also needs a setting and some action. The action begins with an inciting incident and builds with exposé. Finally, your story needs a strong ending or resolution – something that will live on in your reader’s memory. If you can tell a memorable story that includes your product or service, your reader will promote it for you in recounting it to their friends.
The singularly most talked about post I’ve published to date (and the second most shared) remarked a story about Picasso, and design being seen as a commodity. It made such a lasting impression that people still remark about it to me today when I’m in the D&D Building.
On Monday morning I’ll wrap up this series of posts with some insight into the most effective ways we’ve discovered to promote our content on social media. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.