Variety is the spice of life. It also provides the zing to content marketing. If you’re still using the same tired content strategies that you had in place two or three years ago, it’s time to spice up your virtual menu.
There is a wide range of content choices to draw from, going beyond blogs and the entrenched social-media networks, that can reach customers who may have never heard of your company. The goal is to engage, inform and sometimes even make them smile.
Even if you’ve never tried using these types of content, there’s no magical key to making it work. Just make sure everything you do is of high quality, which will engage your customers and pay off in search-engine rankings. So what are you waiting for? Here are 10 unique forms of content that will deliver added value, reach and hopefully sales to your company…
This will be the year of the infographic. Infographics picked up steam last year, but in 2014 companies will really harness their power. These visual representations of complex data and ideas are easily digestible for readers and are often shared across social media networks. Because of this, they have a great shot at going viral. However, create quality infographics or don’t create them at all.
2. Original Data and Research
Too often companies rely on the information that’s already out there as fodder for their blogs or white papers. Instead, why not conduct some research of your own? Look into an issue that’s central to your industry. For example, if you run an SEO company, conduct a study whether adding the rel=”author” tag can really increase traffic to blog posts. You’ll be providing something of value to your community and, equally important, you’ll get a lot of links from other companies citing your research.
3. Animated GIFs
GIFs, or graphics interchange format, originated 27 years ago as a bitmap image employed by CompuServe. But you know them better as the funny moving images from shows like “The Real Housewives of Orange County” or “Parks and Recreation” that are condensed into two seconds to make a funny point. GIFs seem to have invaded blogs over the past two years, most notably on Tumblr. Employ them on your own blog or a landing page to add a little laugh to someone’s day.
Cartoons have been around for centuries, and that’s for a reason: They’re incredibly effective at delivering a point in a humorous way. Consider, for example, this cartoon from Mashable that sums up the essence of YouTube. It’s short, to the point and perhaps a bit obvious, but it conveys in a funny way just how much of a time suck the video-sharing site can be. It’s also something that will get a lot of shares, because people like to laugh.
5. Embedded Tweets
Social media is, of course, its own form of content, but embedded tweets are a great subgenre that you should be employing on your site. Think of them as testimonials. They offer unsolicited feedback on you and your products, and they can serve as a timeline of your products, services and, perhaps most importantly, customer-service endeavors. Embedding is easy, and these tweets can serve as virtual confetti. Sprinkle them across your site.
6. Video Infographics
Videos are a well-known form of online content, but to really stand out try something a little more unique, like video infographics. These expand on infographics, bringing to life the points being made in a static image. They also allow for narration, which adds a new dimension to the information.
7. User-Generated Content
UGC was all the rage a few years ago, when YouTube and social media were in their nascent stages. While it’s not quite the buzzword it once was, UGC can be a valuable part of your company’s strategy. Think of it as a direct pipeline to your customers and their interests. You can invite them to upload videos, pictures or testimonials about your products. Engage them further by making these uploads part of a loyalty program, where they can earn rewards by submitting their UGC.
Making your own play on an Internet meme is a guaranteed way to build traffic as well as goodwill. People love to laugh, and memes are all about chuckling at the absurd. For instance, there’s a well-known meme that’s been circulating for several years about “what people think I do/what I really do.” Take this meme and adopt it to your industry, whether you sell car parts or homemade jewelry. No one can play off the nuances of your area of expertise better than you.
9. Event Information
A calendar can help you keep your audience informed about all the events you have coming up. While it’s great to mention these things in a blog post, an event calendar offers more room to expand on what’s being discussed or done at the event, as well as a better way for people to keep track of when your events will take place.
10. Controversial Content
Remember the last time you weighed in on someone’s political ramblings on Facebook and got pulled into a 48-comment conversation? That’s the value of controversial content. It draws people in, gets them fired up and prompts them to offer their own responses. 12 Keys developed a motion graphic that highlights which jobs are most likely to lead to substance abuse. The topic is controversial. Controversial topics lead to great engagement from viewers. And every marketer knows that engagement is the goal of any type of content marketing.