On last week's episode of The Marketing Update, the marketing tip of the week was special. It took into account all the marketing news throughout 2011 and boiled it down to one main takeaway: Create quality content. And while we can discuss the importance of quality content 'til the cows come home, we'd like to provide some reasons why quality is so important. Perhaps that way, you can truly kick-start your 2012 marketing strategy with some inspiration to get your business blogging into full swing.
What 2011 Indicated
1. Facebook's Timeline Calls for More Content
The new Facebook is here and brings with it features that call for some changes in Facebook marketing. The idea of posting once a day is out the door as News Feeds become populated with only the most recent updates. But posting more means you run the risk of being spammy if the messages you're sending aren't valuable. By creating more quality content, you're able to post more and see greater Facebook marketing success, all by showing users what they'll actually find is remarkable instead of shallow updates in attempt to grab their attention.
This year, Google equipped journalists with a new meta tag called Standout. This tag allows journalists to include a certain tag in their posts to signal to Google News that the content published is feature-worthy and should be displayed at the top of Google News. As marketers, and especially as public relations specialists, we know the importance of not only creating content, but being recognized in content. By creating quality content, you'll give your company the opportunity to be seen by reporters who may want to link to your story for their article. And if that content then becomes a feature story for that Google News search, then you're gaining tons of free reach!
According to URL shortening service Bitly, the 'half life' for a tweet (the time it takes a link to receive half the clicks it will ever receive after it reached its peak) is merely 2.8 hours, with Facebook closely behind at 3.2 hours. This means that you'll need to be posting more frequently to social sites to keep your brand top of mind. But won't people notice if you're sending the same message every few hours? You need diverse content, but more importantly, all that content needs to be of high quality enough to keep users clicking, following, and liking. Otherwise, your social presence won't increase, which eradicates a huge opportunity for growing your reach and getting your message heard.
Google targeted sites with spammy, low quality, and ad-littered content and kicked them to the curb (or at least to end of search engine results pages). This means that when you run a search, content that may have appeared on page one got booted to page 5, 20, or even 100+ because of their high volumes of junk. That means that in order to appear in results, you can't just rely on SEO tactics. You need content that truly is high value and that, paired with SEO, will land in the top of results. I suppose marketing is one place where you don't want any junk in the trunk.
What 2012 Is Indicating5. Experts Predict Content Will Be Crucial
We asked some industry influencers how they thought companies will get found online in 2012. The majority included the importance of content. Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer says, "The days of top 10 lists and how-to's are coming to a close. We've all got to get better at becoming awesome at content." This would mean that you can't fall into the habit of writing just one certain way. People will be constantly looking for better, fresher, and more unique content -- and if you're not providing it, they'll head over to someone who is.
A marketing prediction for 2012 from Small Biz Trends states that all business owners will truly step up and start nailing content creation. Thus, as the world becomes more adept at creating and publishing content, there will be even more content clutter than ever before. The only true way to stand out is to have remarkable content that outperforms the competition.
In a guest post in the Harvard Business Review, HubSpot's SEO Manager Brian Whalley talked about how Google will change web marketing in 2012. He writes, "Early in 2012, Google will expand how it incorporates data into its search results. For search queries that are direct questions, it will no longer be necessary to click through to a website."
This means that not only will questions be answered faster, but also that the answers will come from Google itself as it pulls the information from sites. So how can you get around this? Try making quality content (as if you didn't see that coming) that answers common questions from your target audience. Doing this consistently will let users know who to turn to when they have a question about, say, what medication they should really be taking for their ear infection or what shoes to purchase for an upcoming marathon. Then they'll skip the process of even asking Google and come straight to your site for further research.
The Content Marketing Institute gathered a plethora of predictions for 2012 content marketing. One respondent, Pam Didner, a marketing manager at Intel, said that, "Brand marketers will not only distribute their own content, but also start curating third-party content to reinforce their messages."
Do I hear the sound of guest blogging? I think I do. This means you need to do two things. One is to invite industry leaders to create content for you because this will be one way your customers will find you authoritative and valuable -- you're not trying to purport yourself as the only knowledgeable person in your industry. You recognize that others have valid input. This also means you should contribute guest blog posts to other industry thought leaders' blogs. By making yourself available to convey your ideas to others, you are not only giving your company an inbound link, but you are opening your content to a whole new arena of people. And if it's great quality, they'll know who to go to for more information.
Interested in learning more about quality content, specifically in the blogging arena? Join HubSpot for our fourth Twitter Chat tomorrow, January 3, 3:30 PM ET. We'll discuss all things content related for your business' inbound marketing strategy and answer your burning questions on the topic. The hashtag to follow along is #InboundChat.