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How Well Do You Know Content Marketing?

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Everyone talks about content marketing, but when it comes time to actually define it? Well, that's a whole different kettle of fish.

Indeed, if you get a little tongue-tied trying to explain what content marketing is, you're not alone. It is literally ever changing, so that even when you do understand it you may soon be wrong again.

SEE ALSO: Can Native Ads Boost Your Audience Engagement?

What's Old is New

Here's the thing: the fundamentals of content marketing have been around since long before the Internet was a figment of military imagination. That's why it's a great idea every now and then to simply go back to basics for a refresher on what its central goals are.

Content Marketing = Sharing Good Stuff

The most basic premise of content marketing is that sharing useful information yields good results. It establishes trust and credibility, garners fans and customers. It helps form a bond and relationship with the audience, who are customers, clients or potentials.

Before the Web, content came in the form of news articles, information pamphlets, public service messages and whitepapers, all of which still qualify. Today, of course, there are also online guides, blog and social media posts, photos, podcasts, video and more.

Many people believe that content of the past was always more obvious than it is now, but that's not necessarily so. Just as General Motors might have sponsored a PBS show, companies now sponsor high-quality informational content online. Of course, traditional in-your-face marketing will always exist too, but that involves different strategies.

content marketing
Think about it, do you surf the web looking for anything other than content that's relevant to you?

Content Strategy

Speaking of which...you need one. This is the second most fundamental element of content marketing. To work the way it should, your content marketing needs to consist of topics and platforms that will interest the people most likely to buy your products or services.

Plan, plan, plan. You want a solid strategy on the table so you are not distracted into following trends any way the wind blows, which may only muddle your message.

Editorial Calendar

The editorial calendar is your tool for planning and organizing all the fabulous content you'll be creating so that it makes sense in the context of your site, seasons, sales and whatever other elements are important. It can consist of a list, a spreadsheet, or an elaborate project management system, but things can quickly spiral out of control without one.

Thought Leadership

This trendy phrase refers to the creation of expert content. It demonstrates your leadership in the topics you have chosen to present, and often includes research, guest experts or other impressive sources. This material can be on your site, but can also be broadcast on the Web, PR style, or you can serve as an expert or guest poster on other sites.

The Long and Short of it

Content can come in bite-size bits, known as short-form, or in long form. Shorts include posts, tweets and videos, while long includes e-books and multimedia reports. Some content falls on middle ground, but either way it's a good idea to mix up lengths. They serve very different purposes.

Social Media Marketing

It's important for your brand to be on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other popular sites that work for your niche. But there should also be some strategy and consistency in this area. Fans or followers may just click one digital button never to return. What you want is a loyal audience. Figure out what they want and deliver.

Visual Content Marketing

Photos, videos, illustrations and infographics break up the monotony of verbiage, draw attention and are often more easily remembered. It's getting easier and easier to create this type of content for very little money.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO bolsters content marketing when you pay close attention to search engine rules and promotion without sacrificing quality. Google has always been after top content, but spammers found ways around that. The search engine's ever-improving algorithm is tying quality to rank more and more consistently.

Analytics

Test, track, count, monitor. Make sure your efforts are achieving what you want them to, and when they don't, figure out why not. Traffic, leads, brand recognition and sales are all favorable results that should be tracked against content marketing efforts.

It's a tough game, but somebody's got to win it. Why not you?

Is Content Marketing ever changing? Will it always be a relevant and power marketing tool?

Related:  The Future of Work: How the Job World Will Change in 2020

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