Has it ever occurred to you how vague the word “content” is? Technically, content is everything you create and publish. Blog posts, website copy, videos, tweets, Facebook ads—all of this is content.
People use content to do marketing. They’ve been doing it since the 1950s, even though they didn’t attach the word “content” to the word “marketing” back then.
All marketing is “content marketing” because all marketing uses content. Only in the 50s, they didn’t have the internet. Now we have the internet, and it turns out to be the best channel for transmitting a message to an audience with the purpose of moving this audience down a sales funnel.
Think of content as a container for transmitting a marketing message. This container can take many forms: a video, a blog article, an Instagram post, a podcast episode. Whatever form a content container takes, it should have a clear purpose, target a well-defined audience, and get spread across one or multiple channels to reach that audience.
Content consists of five core elements.
What are you communicating?
Before creating content, you need to ask yourself: What is the most important idea that my audience needs to know? Information that you're communicating needs to give some value to your audience and feel organic to your brand. It should be thoughtful and deep. There must be some novelty and your own thoughts in the content.
Whether you're writing a blog post or filming a video, any piece of content needs to stimulate constructive thoughts and even actions in readers and help them build a point of view.
A reader must clearly understand what you're trying to say and what you rely on when you're building your arguments. They must be aware of your position on a given subject.
When it comes to great content, a message is what makes all the difference.
Why are you creating this?
Put another way, what do you want your audience to think, feel, and do? Defining the purpose of content before you start working on it directs your thinking and writing.
Do you want to get people to accept your idea? Acquire a tool you told them about? Or maybe solve their problem using your solution? Depending on what you want to achieve, you should choose the type of content that best helps you achieve it.
Who are the people you want to reach?
One of the biggest mistakes content creators make is creating content without fully considering and even understanding their audience. Before you put a pen to paper, you need to clearly identify the people you want to reach, their needs, and their problems.
I'm a big fan of jobs to be done, a strategy for creating content that people want to read. I've talked a lot about it in my video "How to Find Killer Content Ideas Relevant to Your Audience." Make sure you check it out.
What form do you want to wrap your content into?
Wait. Let me guess. Of course text. Most content makers prefer text. It's the easiest and most accessible form of content. And that’s the basis for other types of content such as video, audio, or even graphics.
The textual content includes:
Audio content includes audiobooks and podcasts which have significantly grown in popularity over the recent years. It's easy to see why: You don't have to set aside time to listen to a podcast. You can do it while washing the dishes, driving, exercising, and even working.
When it comes to videos, you're watching one right now. YouTube is a perfect place for content creators. It's not simply a video hosting website. It's a search engine. People come to YouTube to look for information just like they do on Google. If you want to get a larger audience for your blog, you need to consider YouTube.
Other than videos on YouTube, a webinar is another type of video content that you can produce. A webinar is a video presentation, workshop, or lecture. You can use webinars to educate your audience on a specific topic, showcase your products or services, or train your employees if you have a remote team.
Any concept and information can be represented graphically and shared on social media. You can use images and infographics to get more visibility for your content on visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
Other forms of content also include:
Presentations that get shared on platforms like Slideshare.
Quizzes and polls. These are highly engaging and attractive forms of interactive content. You can check out lots of quizzes on BuzzFeed. Here is another example: Sally Hogshead who wrote the book on brand fascination has an interesting quiz called the Brand Fascination assessment. I'm sure it helped her attract lots of people to her book and her consulting services.
Templates are free resources that you can share with your audience. For example, on my website, I have a content mapping template that you can use to plan content by the Schwartz’s stages of awareness. Nira, a product that helps control access to online documents has 317 free templates for project managers.
Where do you want to share your content?
Channels are the platforms and media where you share your content. Сontent form and channel are interconnected, meaning channels often define what form your content should take. For example, Instagram requires images, YouTube videos, and Spotify podcasts, and if you want to appear on Slideshare, you need to create presentations.
In general, content channels break into owned, earned, and paid:
I hope this blog post helped you understand different types of content and how to use them in your content marketing strategy.
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