One of the biggest mistakes made by new bloggers and social media ‘gurus’ when creating effective content marketing is forgetting the importance of long-term thinking and strategy.  In an effort to get new followers quickly there is a real tendency to talk about the current ‘big thing’, which can work well in the short term but I’d argue overall wanes over time. Creating content marketing material using this type of reactionary blogging tends to produce shorter, fluffier-type articles or tweets.  These may get many hits in the short-term, but fail to drive audiences consistently to your webpage.  Don’t get me wrong, these tweets/posts/updates do have their place: not everything we produce can be a content marketing masterpiece, but they are better used to support more quality content.

You need to spend some time to develop useful content. Start out by establishing what you define as useful content. Expect that these quality posts might (and should) take you a few weeks to perfect.  Think about your audience. Do some intense research using Google AdWords or Übersuggest. Find something that is trending, but also has the potential for long-term search. What are the big questions your audience might have? What might they be searching for today? What might they be searching for in a year? Will this be a beginner, intermediate, or expert resource? What tools/how to’s/tips will impact them. Give them something they want (think about it as giving them content, not just content marketing)!

As example of quality content/content marketing take a look at two of my favourite posts that I return to time and time again. (Kudos!)

Guide to Online Marketing by Unbounce

SEOmoz Intro to SEO

Like Rome, these posts weren’t made in a day and that is why they will continue to drive traffic as long as they are up. They were an investment of time and expertise to deliver something tangible to the audience: something worthwhile. Additionally, they look good, they read well, and they set out to answer established questions that will have relevance in the long-term. Think about posts that you have seen receive a lot of long-term traffic for example Google Algorithm Change History by SEOmoz or our own Canadian Local SEO Citations Guide. These are tools that the intended audience will use time and time again.

Now you probably know that just because you create great content doesn’t mean it will get noticed. Sometimes even the most useful tools won’t fly. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away.  When I get down on my blog returns I look to a graphic Rand Fishkin included in an SEOMoz blog post.

Be conservative. Plan that only 1 in 10 posts will receive long-term traffic.  Take and incorporate feedback from your audience; if a number of your viewers are calling for you to update a guide or talk about an issue you ignored it may be worth your time to create a follow-up post or to modify your original. Sometimes writing from behind your desktop to invisible readers you can forget that the content marketing you create should serve the purpose of satisfying the reader first and as a vehicle of marketing second.

As scary as it may seem, you will need to guest blog some of your best material to build your reputation, Ann Smarty recommends it all the time. You may end up creating a piece of content for another blog that continually drives them traffic.  Even though this won’t benefit your site directly remember that it will help create an impression of your expertise, develop a relationship with the site that posted your material, and may earn you some really great guest bloggers in the future.  You may even see a spike in traffic as readers from the blog you posted on actively search you out.  Plus the blogs that are willing to publish material that you wouldn’t want to publish on your own site probably aren’t the type of blogs you’d want representing you anyways.

So get on with your tweeting/posting/updating and surfing.  Tweet a picture of your new coworker (with their permission) or update your status with a laugh worthy meme, but take some time to brainstorm. Find a few killer ideas and put them out there this year.  I’m ready to add some new favourites to my tool bar!

Photo Credit: Krissy.Venosdale
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Tagged with: Ann Smarty, content marketing, content marketing strategy, SEO Copywriting, SEOMoz, Unbounce

About Lauren Waters

Lauren Waters is an avid marketer and communicator. MA in Communication and New Media at McMaster University with a BA from Western in Media, Information, and Technoculture. Interested in education, social media, and environmentalism.