Creating content can mean so much more than writing blog posts and posting on social media. It can mean making movies, building web apps, even sending somebody into space.
Yet, many companies continue to focus only on writing, as though this was the only option available to them. There are many reasons why this is. Here are a few thoughts that could be running through the content marketer’s mind:
- “Other content formats are more expensive to make”
- “Other formats take a really long time”
- “I’m not a filmmaker; I’ve never done anything like this before”
- “I don’t know anyone with the skill set to make it”
While some of this may be true, the extra effort involved in creating these different formats is almost always worth it.
Over two million blog posts are published daily, and with demands for our attention increasing, fewer people have the time to read things anymore.
The publishers who are experimenting with video and visuals will find it much easier to stand out from their competitors and get noticed by their target audience.
In this post, I highlight five content formats that businesses should consider investing in and why they’re important.
In an era of information overload and lightning fast internet connections, video is a great way to catch your audience’s attention. According to research from Cisco, video will account for 69% of all internet traffic – but it’s not hard to see why many brands haven’t embraced it yet.
The cost of hiring a film crew and camera equipment can be prohibitively expensive, and then there’s the cost of the edit and the time taken to find the locations.
However, the hard work can pay off. As long as they’re not too heavily branded, informative and entertaining videos can generate thousands of plays on YouTube and Vimeo. In fact, YouTube is now considered the world’s second biggest search engine after Google.
Check out this short film from Enjoy Handplanes in California. Here they tell the beautiful story of how they make their customised handplanes out of broken surfboards and unwanted wetsuits. It’s inspirational on many levels and definitely something I would want to share on social media.
2. Web Apps
It’s interesting to note that all of the most linked to sites on the web are tools of some kind. If you look at Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Wikipedia or YouTube, they’re all tools that people actually use, which originated from simple innovative software ideas.
Creating web apps that solve a problem can be a great way of getting on your audience’s radar. For instance, a digital agency could create a tool which spell checks websites, while a property website could make something which shows you where you can affordably rent in London (answer: nowhere!).
Another nice example is Trainline’s Festival Finder, which helped users find their ideal UK music festival, based on their music taste. The tool got featured on Cosmopolitan, Grazia and Huff Post, to name a few, generating tons of traffic and brand awareness in the process.
3. Flip Books
Does your business have printed content assets such as catalogues, brochures, portfolios or menus? A tool like FlipSnack could be the best solution for turning a boring PDF file into an interactive flip book.
FlipSnack offers a free plan and can be used for converting PDFs into stylish online magazines. These have a higher engagement rate than PDFs and are easier for search engines to understand, enabling your content to rank better. You can boost engagement levels further by adding sound and video to your flip books.
Many have proclaimed the death of the humble infographic, but like a zombie, the format refuses to die.
The Renegade Pharmacist’s “What happens one hour after drinking a can of Coke?” is a great example. It’s a relatively simple visualisation (based on information from an article by Wade Meredith) which has earned links from 849 websites so far. Do you know the lengths some SEOs would go to for that kind of coverage?
The key to the infographic’s success is this: according to research from Zabisco, 40% of people respond better to visual information than to plain text. But the real appeal is the way they help journalists and bloggers to write stories: you could embed a decent visualisation in an article and say the same thing in 100 words as you could in 600.
I’m defining a guide as an in-depth piece of writing – usually totalling 2,000 words or more – which addresses a topic comprehensively, as opposed to focussing on a particular sub-topic like a blog post.
Research from BuzzSumo has shown that longer articles get more social shares. They also tend to rank better for more search queries, by virtue of containing more information.
Neil Patel’s The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing is a nice example in this industry, containing ten chapters which deal with sub-topics such as “Generating Ideas”, “Optimising Content” and “Promoting Content”.
Each chapter could have been a weighty blog post in its own right, but by consolidating them into a single guide, Neil has created one of the most comprehensive resources on this topic on the internet. This strategy has earned him over 500 linking root domains and counting.
By looking beyond blogging, you will see a whole universe of other content possibilities. The one you choose to make will depend on the following:
- Your industry (some content formats work better in certain sectors than others)
- Your marketing objectives (e.g. “to generate links, social shares and traffic”)
- Your budget
- Who you know, your “black book” of contacts (designers, illustrators, filmmakers)
This list is really just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other formats that are a bit more unusual and outside the box (remember: practically everything can be content!). I would love to know what works best for you in the comments.
Image Credit: WinSuperSite.com