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Content is a fundamental element of every campaign, but simply creating content doesn’t mean anyone will read it, or actually like it.

As part of a new series, A Digital Marketer’s Guide to the Galaxy, we’re going to explore basic tools and guidelines for enhancing your digital marketing strategy. And since content is king – or at least some flavor of royalty – we’ll start there.

A Resonant Idea + A Novel Execution = Delight

As creatives, we’re hesitant to reuse ideas. Austin Kleon’s great book, Steal Like An Artist, challenges the notion of original ideas and advises that if you can take another idea or combination of ideas to make a better one, you should.

We shouldn’t be afraid to recreate content about a popular topic that has been done before. If you can devise a novel approach that better communicates a topic, do it. With so many brands poorly executing content, their failures can be your inspiration.

Let’s take #Bendgate and #Beardgate for example: Twitter had a field day with Apple’s overblown troubles, and savvy social media marketers were able to jump into the fray to gain their piece of the engagement pie.

So, try to put a fresh spin on it.

Research Will Get You Everywhere

No matter what you create, you should spend a significant portion of your time (yes, more than 50%) researching the industry, trends, competitors, blogs, forums, etc. This will give you the best chance at creating material people will care about.

Take it from this guy.
Take it from this guy.

Be a Welcome Addition to the Conversation

When joining a conversation, instead of being self-promotional (even indirectly, which is entirely transparent, by the by) focus on bringing your audience value, service and guidance.

Luckily, many platforms expect and welcome companies to join the conversation – as long as you play by the rules. If you’d like to follow one of the million iterations of the 80/20 rule, try this: by honestly participating in the conversation 80% of the time, you earn the right to promote yourself 20% of the time (and 20% is generous).

Practice engaged listening to find natural ‘ins’ to conversations instead of forcing your way into trending topics. And for the love of Robot, never take advantage of tragedies or disasters, even if you think you’re being sincere.

Seriously, no one wants to see a branded 9/11 remembrance. No one.

Aim for Love, Not Likes

You want your customers to love you, not just Facebook like you. Organic customer feedback and recommendations are single-handedly the most powerful marketing tool you have, so spend time nurturing them and providing excellent customer service.

And speaking of customer service, don’t be afraid of negative product reviews. Instead, look at them as opportunities to help your customers and don’t remove them!

Relevancy Has a Deadline… and a Word Count

A few pearls of wisdom to consider when crafting content:

  • The average adult attention span is 2.5 – 7 seconds, which is less than a goldfish at 9 seconds. This stat is a bit overblown when it comes to online content, but it highlights an important point – people don’t have time for boring. If you can’t capture interest in the first 7 seconds, then you need to rethink your content.
  • Americans engage with seven different sources of information every day. Be compelling if you want to be read.
  • If you can say something with fewer words, do it. Some content needs to be 2,000 words long – and users will engage if it’s good enough – but just remember: goldfish.
  • Have fun and think about what YOU would want to be reading as your audience.

Image credit: LDFranklin

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352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.