Not Another List Post: How to Think Outside the Content Marketing Box

Not Another List Post: How to Think Outside the Content Marketing Box


If Little Richard and Chuck Berry were trying to be like every other musician, then rock and roll as we know it wouldn’t exist. If Jackson Pollock and Basquiat tried to mimic every artist before them, then the art world would’ve lost out on a renaissance of abstract expressionism and graffiti art.

So when it comes to content marketing, why are so many brands afraid of innovation?

In the world of content marketing few brands manage to stay above the fray. Many succumb to the temptation of chasing after content marketing fads, focusing on the success of other brands instead of trying to figure out what works best for them. This mindset creates mediocre content that garners little attention. Readers just don’t want to sift through troughs of copycat content that provides them with little value.

The solution? Get your Chuck Berry on and do your own version of the duck walk–content that is as unique as your brand.

1. The Ingredients of Virality

Not all viral posts are lists that start with odd numbers. This myth was popularized by Buzzfeed’s research on their own posts. But what works for Buzzfeed won’t necessarily translate well to your own blog. Like how CNN using Upworthy’s headline formula didn’t bode well for them at all (this screenshot should be put in the dictionary after the word fail).

To figure out what will make your posts viral, you need to conduct your own research on your content. And whatever you do, don’t chase down the newest content strategy fads at the expense of content quality and consistency. In fact, oversaturation of a certain tool actually decreases its effectiveness.

2. Length Is Relative

Bloggers with short posts (Seth Godin) do as well as those with long posts (Buffer). For example, in a recent fizzle post, ConversionXL founder Peep Laja went head on with content marketing and managed to garner 50k visitors in the first month. Though there were numerous factors at play that helped him achieve such success, post length was a pillar. He says that in-depth, well thought out pieces of 2,700-3,000 words is the sweet spot for his audience.

But according to Medium’s research, the optimal length of a blog post is seven minutes long, which is about 1,600 words. Instead of counting words, focus on consistency in content types (if you always write short posts and people expect that, then stick with that strategy) and how much is needed to actually create a worthwhile piece.

3. New Content Types to Get You Started

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results each time. Chances are that if you are not achieving the results you want, you need to make a change to your content marketing strategy. So mix it up by diversifying the types of content you produce.

1. Video Infographics - Infographics visually explain ideas and products in a way that text alone can’t. Videos have increased engagement compared to the written word. Together, they are a potent force to carry your message in a unique and commanding way.

2. Interactive Web Pages - Since the goal of interactive web pages is to establish meaningful communication with the user, they have higher engagement compared to regular web pages.

3. Roundup Tools and Apps - This type of content doesn’t involve a lot of writing, yet it’s still informational. Great for when you need a break from writing 2,000 word posts, but want to stay consistent with your posting schedule.

4. Collaborative Event Content - For an event, like a conference, designate a hashtag and have attendees contribute quotes and event knowledge using the hashtag. Compile all the posts and tweets in a Storify for the event.

5. Audio Versions of Blog Posts - Have a great voice? Create an audio version for each blog post and add a link to them at the bottom of the posts. Make the audio available through iTunes and SoundCloud to reach a wider audience.

What are some innovative content marketing strategies do you use? Let us know in the comments.

Photo Credit: I LIKE IT SIMPLE via photopin

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