January 4, 2015

Rachel Strella

4 Ways to 'Ignite' Content

ignite contentSome of you have heard of Mark Schaefer's Content Shock theory.  Put simply, content marketing is such an effective marketing strategy that we've become oversaturated, making it increasingly difficult for businesses to break through the noise.

Such was the case in a recent email Mark received from a sporting goods company that reported a startling decrease in Facebook reach and blog engagement the past year. Several of my customers can relate to this decline and many of my colleagues are experiencing the same. It's a result of Content Shock. And, it's only going to get worse.

Mark says we now shift from great content 'rising to the top' to great content as 'merely the starting point.' Always forward thinking, Mark says today's content marketing  will need to ignite! To ensure content is seen and interacted with, businesses will need to find creative and effective ways to share content on the web. Or, as Mark says, "Don't just write. Ignite."

From what we've experienced with our customers, I think Mark is spot on. The long-form publishing tool on LinkedIn is a great example. When it first became available, I heard stories from colleagues of 7-10,000 reads on the articles and hundreds of hits on their site. But, as the tool increased in popularity,  those reads and hits were down to the hundreds and dozens, respectively. The content was still 'strong,' but fewer people were reading because it's simply overused.

Are we fighting a losing battle? How do we even 'ignite' content?  For many, it's still a struggle to create strong content let alone content that ignites. I certainly do not have the answer for every business, but I can give you a few ideas based on our experiments with our customers.

Consider creative campaigns.  While I don't advocate thinking of social media in a 'campaign mindset,' I do find a lot of merit to campaigns as a piece of the marketing pie. Particularly relevant to those who want to generate brand awareness and increase engagement, we've instituted hashtag campaigns, in which we encouraged the audience to tweet with a particular hashtag for a chance to help a local charity or to enter a drawing.  This tactic is especially effective when we can create a strategic partnership and cross promote to help expand reach.

Spend a few dollars. It's a pay-to-play world, especially on channels like Facebook. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to ensure that your content is seen, especially with Facebook boosting. Also called “Page Post Engagement,” boosting allows for increased visibility of a fan page post. Our clients have increased their reach by 30 times their organic views by spending as little as $5. Twitter also offers inexpensive advertising options.

Become the hub.  While most are trying to edge their way into a crowded space, I often wonder if it makes more sense to BE the space.  This is an idea we proposed to a client in an oversaturated market of  government contractors searching for candidates with top secret  clearances.  Until he consulted with us, he was working his way into hundreds of groups, forums and pages dedicated to military personnel.  With competition so fierce, he wasn't sure if social media was even worth entering the game.  We had to look beyond simply finding qualified prospects, as many of his competitors were doing. I suggested that we find out what the people on these groups are looking for (which we did, through countless hours of monitoring), devise a solid content game plan, establish strategic partnerships including a non-profit focused mission, and have him create his own 'hub' - a source of information shared by the community that he creates.  The idea here is that ultimately, his value-based offerings and community-focused mindset will lead to trust. Once trust is established, is there a need to go anywhere else?

Experiment with new ways to share content.  One of our clients developed an algorithm that predicts stock market fluctuations then alerts users when it's time to buy or sell a stock. Because his product was new and he was not yet known, we first worked to establish his credibility while trying to push his free-trial offer. But, even with promoting his blog content  on multiple channels, we knew we did not have enough eyeballs to jump start his growth. We decided to start applying for niche syndication sites that, once approved, allow him to publish his content on their sites.  This tactic is one example of content marketing that can help to expand reach outside of the standard social media outlets.

Social media is in constant state of flux - and content marketing is no exception. In order to stay competitive, we cannot get complacent - or even too comfortable.

Have you thought of ways to ignite your content?

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13 comments on “4 Ways to 'Ignite' Content”

  1. Strella,

    Yours is one of the best articles with practical tips for immediate implementation!

    Excellent ideas to "Ignite" Content. I loved the idea of "Becoming the Hub" for value based offerings with a Community-focused mindset to earn trust.

    Thank you very much.


    1. Hi KS,

      Thanks for stopping by - and I appreciate the connection on LinkedIn and Twitter. The hub idea seems to be a big takeaway for folks and I'm delighted. I hope you're enjoying San Diego this time of year - it's downright freezing here in Philadelphia PA!


  2. Great article Rachel. It goes far in reminding me how little I know about social media and how much we need people like you! Your excellent point is that we need to continue to find ways to distinguish ourselves and what we represent from the masses.

    How do you feel about controversy? This is, to say, taking the path less traveled. This is, perhaps, the same as becoming the Hub but with a sharper edge. Brand identity is all about distinguishing the differences not your similarity to the others in the crowded space.

    1. I'm asked about controversy a good bit, Bob. Perhaps this is an idea for another blog post!

      In short, I think controversy is OK if you have a well-researched approach and you're not fanning flames for the sake of earning a few clicks. We have to be careful of stepping on toes with sensitive topics (politics, religion, etc.) and that we are using logic rather than emotion to back up our statements. However, I can think of a handful of people who ignite controversy and do it well. You are correct - it is about brand identity and standing out from the crowd. Just be sure what you're saying is actually in alignment with who you are and what you represent. Great question.

  3. Thanks for these excellent insights Rachel. It's great to read a post that offers some solid ideas that can be trialled. Always having to stay on top of the game is challenging - thanks for the share.

    1. Hi Midge,

      As always, I appreciate your support! Enjoy the nice weather in your part of the world! 🙂


  4. So are we looking at a future where the fattest wallets and the largest teams will win the race? How do you see individual professionals doing in this new space, especially when 1) they need to do their work, too, and 2) in many professions and markets you cannot afford ultra-narrow niches?

    1. Years ago, I wrote a blog called, "The Great Debate: Does Social Media Really Level the Playing Field." In it, I argue that with strong content and consistency, one can make social media work without opening a wallet.

      As the years pass, I realize that may be true for those who started when I wrote that blog in 2012. But now, things are different. If you want to enter the race, at this point, you have to pay to play. But, I will still argue, that you don't have to pay A LOT for this to happen.

      We all have work to do, but we can't make excuses. To compete in the online world, we have to up our game.

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