January is way too late to start making the resolutions that will shape your content marketing strategy in the year ahead. Here are six commitments that should be a part of any content marketing plan for 2018.
1. Find the time to go long.
Analyze the data on content marketing influence and authority (as LinkedIn did in a groundbreaking recent study with Buzzfeed) and one finding is overwhelmingly clear: content gets more impactful and effective the longer it is. Blog posts over 1,000 words are far more effective than shorter posts. Over 2,000 words, effectiveness leaps up again.
Why is this? Long form content may be correlated positively with performance because long form content has the potential to cover a wide range of interrelated topics, thus allowing any singular piece to rank for multiple keyphrases on search engines.
Finding the time to create quality, longer-form content should therefore be on every marketer’s agenda for 2018. The best way to do so is to rebalance your content calendar so that you’re pushing out content less frequently but creating content more worthy of people’s attention when you do. You’ve probably noticed that you get the lion’s share of the value from only a small percentage of the content you create. So instead of investing your resources on many pieces that are just “okay,” invest those resources in creating fewer, more powerful content items.You’ll invest the same amount of time and energy, but you’ll get a far greater return on it.
2. Build a proper strategy for your blog.
Your blog is the rug that ties the social media room together. It’s a platform that you fully own, a central hub where you can launch content in any format that you like, and where you can focus your efforts on building a loyal, relevant audience. When your blog does well, your content marketing does well. It gives your content strategy a natural focus and a natural rhythm, it helps to keep you beautifully attuned to your target audience, and it provides you with a regular supply of content that you can choose to amplify on other channels with confidence. Once a piece of content engages the audience for your blog it’s a valuable indication that it could be worth putting paid media behind it.
3. Study the 5% club.
Around this time last year, Beckon’s claim that 5% of branded content generates 90% of all engagement set a content-bashing bandwagon in motion. Marketing commentators quickly jumped on board to declare that the data showed content marketing didn’t work.
Of course, what this statistic really shows is that 5% of content marketing is actually immensely effective – and an awful lot of the rest needs to up its game. If any marketer thought that simply labeling their communications as “content” would automatically increase engagement levels then they have almost certainly learned otherwise by now. But nobody is forcing you to be that kind of content marketer.
There is a formula for content success. It involves earning authority through original, in-depth content, and then leveraging that authority through smart, targeted, paid media distribution on the right channels. Study the characteristics of the 5% and you will be well on your way to joining them.
4. Don’t fall for marketing’s fake news problem.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the goldfish attention span myth? It’s the claim that human beings now have an attention span less than that of a goldfish – and that marketers therefore can’t expect their audiences to concentrate for longer than eight seconds. There’s just one problem with this statistic: it’s complete and utter nonsense. There has never been a study comparing human attention spans to that of goldfish. For that matter, there has never been a study showing what the attention span of a goldfish actually is.
The goldfish attention span myth has been misdirecting content marketing strategies for the last two years – and it’s not alone. It’s far too easy for marketers to fall for snake-oil salesmen-type claims that don’t really stand up to scrutiny but can do a lot of damage when they’re allowed to influence marketing strategies. In 2018, do yourself a favor: when you’re presented with a stat, check where that stat comes from and then decide for yourself whether it’s credible or not.
5. Create video like you mean it.
Video can be a superb tool for driving engagement for B2B marketers – but not if your definition of video content starts and ends with an executive in a suit staring at the camera. Challenge yourself to break new ground in B2B video in 2018. For starters, why not turn that longer-form content you’re planning into the script for a mini-documentary? There are plenty of handy editing tools (such as Videoblocks.com and Powtoon.com) to help.
6. Unlock the amplification potential of your employees.
Employee advocacy is the single most underutilized asset in the whole of content marketing. If you think that’s a big claim, then consider this statistic from our own experience at LinkedIn. We released 123 pieces of content onto our employee-sharing platform, Elevate. Those pieces were shared 4,290 times, which increased the aggregate reach of our content by 15 million. Employee sharing has this power because the combined LinkedIn networks of a company’s employees are typically 10 times the size of its own organic reach. When you create great content as a marketer, you owe it to yourself to give it the greatest opportunity to reach and influence your audience. That simply has to involve sharing by your own employees.
Have questions for Jason? Want more thoughts on what’s next for content marketing in 2018? Join us on November 14th for our next Content Marketing Expert Series Webinar.
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