Start with Story

So you want to put something out into the digital world: a piece of writing, a video, an image. But you don’t just want to put it out in the universe, you want people to like, and respond, and share what you made.

I love these simple and thoughtful tips for creating great content from Weber Shandwick’s Social Studies Blog. Here are some of my favorite bits of advice:

Start with story: Without a compelling story to tell, it’s doubtful that your content will be great.  Before you open your mouth or pick up a camera, know the key messages you’re looking to communicate and what makes them valuable/interesting/important to your audience.  Once you’re focused on that, everything gets a lot easier.

Listen: You aren’t the only one creating content.  Your customers and stakeholders are creating it every day and the power of the open web allows your business to deeply understand what your audience is talking about, what they’re interested in, and perhaps as importantly, what they’re not interested in.  This insight is invaluable in shaping content that will resonate.

Iterate and improve: Every time you produce a piece of content you have an opportunity to improve if you continue to listen to see how your audience responds to your content.  Monitor your clickthrough rates, feedback through comments, email and your Twitter handle, and any other input you have and use that learning to improve the way you tell your story.  This might be an outcome that’s highly tactical to improve conversion or it might be a significant revamp of your entire story.  Either way, your audience will be giving you clues – both subtle and overt – to help you make better content.  Pay attention to them.

Be consistent: Your audience is exposed to hundreds, possibly thousands of marketing messages a day.  If your content marketing story isn’t consistent across every touchpoint, your story begins to blend in with all the others.  You’re working hard to stand out so you owe it to yourself to help your audience recognize a story from you.  It breeds familiarity, loyalty, reputation capital, and business results.

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