What’s the point in investing in content if no one engages with it? Here’s how to create exceptional content—content that your audience will actually want to read, watch or listen to, even as the sea of competing content continues to expand.

You don’t just need your content to stand out from your competitors. You also need it to standout from all of the other content a person could be engaging with at a given moment, from media sites and blog posts to snaps, YouTube videos or their best friend’s latest Facebook photo.

Adding to the challenge is the somewhat disturbing finding that humans’ attention spans are shrinking. (As widely reported, they are now shorter than a goldfish’s.) Here’s how to create content that stands out and engages, without sacrificing quality for razzmatazz. 

  1. 1. Choose the right topic

Not video, not infographics, not even augmented reality can help your content if it isn’t relevant to your audience. The first step in creating extraordinary content is ensuring you choose a topic that matters to your customers and ties back to your business objectives. We call that the sweet spot, and identifying it is crucial to creating an effective content marketing strategy.  

  1. 2. Optimize your content

So you’ve got a good subject matter. Now present it in a way that draws readers in and encourages them to stay with it. Best practice includes:

  1. 3. Getting Widgey With It

A widget is a web application that enables a particular function on a web or mobile page. For example, if a brand is on Twitter, it may want to include a widget on its website that showcases its latest Tweets. You can use widgets to add all sorts of interactive elements, such as surveys, quizzes or comment sections. Integrating a widget is usually simple and free. Check out the example below of a quiz Mediaplanet dreamed up to add some interest and fun to a recent news story in our U.S. Education and Career News section.

  1. 4. Ask the audience

Digital media has radically changed the type of relationship we can have with our customers. We have access to unprecedented volumes of data that facilitates nuanced understanding of their preferences and behaviors, as well as sophisticated targeting methods. But just as exciting is that our customers can now talk back.

Gone are the days of just pushing out creative messages. Now we can truly engage with our clients and prospects and improve various business functions, from marketing to customer service, by encouraging and listening to their feedback.

To help make sure your content gets noticed, ask your audience’s opinion. Using methods like social media posts and e-mail surveys, you can ask about the issues they are facing, the topics that interest them or even, quite bluntly, what type of content they want to see more of.

You can also embrace user-generated content, content that is created by your audience, such as an Instagram post, to make your content marketing strategy unique, interactive and engaging.  User-generated content is more memorable and trustworthy than other media. For some inspiration, check out HubSpot’s roundup of effective user-generated campaigns.

  1. 5. Enlist the help of influencers

Working with influencers is an effective way to improve both the quality of your content and your distribution strategy. Influencers are people or organizations that your target audience already knows and trusts and is interested in hearing from and learning about.

An influencer could be a trusted non-profit or even a blogger with a vehement following. Of course, major star power is great, too, if you can get it. To raise awareness about our content on education and career news, Mediaplanet enlisted the help of American country singer Toby Keith. We use this strategy all over the world, from Germany to Canada, where we partnered with pro wrestling legend Bret Hart who spoke candidly about his fight with prostate cancer. The article was shared more than 37,000 times!  

Celebrity stories like these help attract readers. We also benefit from traffic boosts when the bigwigs we partner with share our stories on their own social media networks.

Need some help making sure your content can compete with the deluge of content already out there? Contact us today.